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For the Love of Teaching
And Other Reasons Teachers Do What They Do
Interview Portraits by Ira D. Shull

From “Change”

Change is never easy. For the following teachers, however, it is what drives their teaching. By helping others and by sharing what they know, these teachers are catalysts for change in the lives of those around them. They believe in the power of positive change—they have witnessed its effects in their classrooms and in their lives. Creating change keeps them actively engaged in teaching and gives them goals to strive for. For these teachers, there is pride in even the small transformations they have effected, and in knowing that in their own way, they are making their part of the world a better place.

Oveta Anderson

Oveta Anderson is a math resource teacher for grades one through four at the Westminster Schools in Atlanta, Georgia. She has been teaching, mostly in independent schools, for twenty-three years.

I look at my teaching career, and it’s been rewarding because I’ve touched the lives of kids, not only educationally but in a moral sense. I think I’ve helped them. I feel good about that.
Some students haven’t been exposed to a black teacher before—maybe a black housekeeper or gardener, but not someone at the same level as their other teachers. They come into the classroom and here I am! They have to identify with me, and there’s value in that. I remember one little girl feeling my skin. She just said it was smooth. I said, ‘The only thing different is my pigmentation. It’s smooth just like yours.’ She said, ‘It is.’
It seems like every place I go, I’m the first teacher of color. At one independent school, I was a fifth-grade homeroom teacher, and the parents were a little concerned because they were expecting a white teacher. It was a learning experience for me and for them, and a positive one.
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