Living the Vision

Founder and CEO of Today's Students - Tomorrow's Teachers, Betty Perkins, started out as a school teacher in South Carolina, with a vision and a plan. 

"I am so blessed that God has given me my purpose in life. But we are here because they [the alumni teachers] had to act on their own vision for the youth. They are in these classrooms impacting the lives of students. We must celebrate them. They are the reason for the success of TSTT over the past 20 years." 
As I listened to her speech, I began to reflect. This award means so much to me. Its a true testament of my determination and dedication. I wanted to be a teacher since I learned what a teacher was. Anyone who knows me can vouch for that!! And although I was an absolute wreck in high school, my teachers saw something special in me and signed me up for the Today's Students Tomorrow's Teachers program. 

In 2001, I was one of the 9th grade students, coming to the meetings and being inspired by the young mentor teachers. 
In 2004, I was getting ready to graduate from high school, like the young ladies above, heading to Morgan State, and was awarded for completing the first four years of the TSTT program. 
Today, exactly ten years later, I am awarded for being an educator for 5-plus years. At 17, I did not know how much I would accomplish by 27. I did not see two Masters Degrees from Johns Hopkins in my future.. And I certainly didn't consider myself a leader. But it was the inspiration and experiences that I gained through TSTT that allowed these things to come to fruition. 

I am grateful. Not just for this award but grateful to be in the field of education. 

People always ask me, "Why are you a teacher?" Today I realized that I was chosen to be a teacher. It is truly a calling and a privilege to be able lead the next generation of great leaders. It's not a task given to just anyone, no matter how much society seems to ignore our efforts; real teachers know the real reward. And that's all that matters. 
This award was given to me and a few other honorees, such as Tara Parker, my classmate from 2nd to 12th grade (whom ironically teaches in the DMV as well) for "Living the Vision - You Make a Difference 5+ Years". I humbly acknowledge the fact that myself and all of the other effective educators and administrators across the country truly do make a difference each and every day. But I cannot ignore the fact that being a teacher has mad a difference in me too. So again, I am grateful. 

I was 22 when I first started teaching.. A kid.. An immature little girl of a woman. Fresh out of undergrad. Who hardly knew her worth or who she was. Im so far from that girl today because being teacher has shaped and stretched my mind beyond it's own fears and limitations. On a daily basis, I learn something new about the world and discover a new reason to improve upon and unconditionally love myself. I know who I am because I teach. I pour my heart into my students and my students consistently pour the same energy, wisdom, and love back into me. 

Im not sure how many more years I will be able to do the work of a classroom educator but I promise you, I will never stop working in this field.. No matter what. 

Leading, learning, and loving...
Ms. Clay