Instructor Kollette Kee of University of Texas-University Charter School
University of Texas-University Charter School Instructor Kollette Kee: “Why I Teach”
5/17/2010Kollette Kee is an instructor with the University of Texas-University Charter School (UT-UCS), a component of Continuing & Innovative Education. The mission of UT-UCS is to determine and meet the educational requirements of students with special needs or circumstances. UT-UCS works to help these students achieve academic success, personal growth and successful integration into the adult workforce. Kollette tells the story of one of her outstanding students in the following story that she entitled “Why I Teach”:
“Teaching at the Settlement Home, a campus of the University of Texas-University Charter School, has afforded me the opportunity to see many student successes. One of our district's primary goals is to ensure that we have given our students a foundation for success not just during their time with us but also after graduation from our schools.
I could write in general terms about this, or discuss statistics. Instead, I’d like to tell you about a student I’ll call 'Luz.' The Settlement Home provides education for young women who would normally, to use a cliché, fall through the cracks in public school. They have often been so traumatized that functioning in such an environment is not a possibility at the current point in their lives. Such is Luz’s story. She came to us as bright, seething with anger, and not very academically successful.
During her time with us, she worked hard in counseling. A peer inspired her to challenge herself as a student. She realized that she was actually pretty good at English, as well as other subjects. Studying and reading became a focus for her even in her free time.
During her senior year, she wrote an extraordinary essay responding to a writing prompt in poetic verse, and fulfilled the requirements of the essay at the same time. The prompt had to do with self-improvement, and her essay contained the theme of moving from dark into light. Another accomplishment was her research essay, which she and I organized according to the way I was taught both prior to and during my own attendance at the The University of Texas at Austin. She earned exemplary TAKS test scores.
Prior to her moving on from us and into Austin Community College, we had a meeting with Luz. In it she discussed her fear of both attending college and making friends, and also about writing satisfactory compositions. I assured her she was prepared, yet she remained skeptical. A few weeks later, Luz graduated.
Still a resident at the Settlement Home, I ran into Luz on campus some months later. We hugged, and I asked her how school was going. She beamed and replied, 'It’s going great, thanks to your teaching!' Well, this is every teacher’s dream. I couldn’t have asked for more. She went on to say that her composition instructor had challenged the class to organize their papers properly. He then explained, 'Luz did it in her paper.' She ducked her head, but smiled, saying the whole class turned and stared at her. Luz was definitely in the light.”