There are teachers in Charlotte with a goal that goes beyond teaching textbook material: To better the next generation through education. These teachers aren’t just found at one school, either.
Juan Lascano, a science teacher at Charlotte Learning Academy, has a goal to give back.
“I was able to see that some of my students were not as fortunate as others,” he said, “so it was my duty to provide access and opportunity to those to ensure that they realize their full potential.”
Lascano, 26, is a Norfolk State University graduate.
“I remember mentoring at a local elementary school in Norfolk, Va., and noticing that elementary students couldn’t spell simple five-letter words, but they could spell every curse word correctly,” he said. “At this moment, I realized that I needed to give back to society through teaching.”
He said his ultimate goal is to be a positive influence on anyone he encounters.
“Teaching allows me to truly become a beacon of influence and motivation for high school students, and I truly enjoy talking to them about their future goals and aspirations,” he said. “I like knowing that I will one day be in a position where my students will see that my hard work paid off, so they can continue to strive towards their personal goals in life.”
Over at Ranson IB Middle School, eighth-grade teacher Taylor Elkins, 26, sees her job as a way to promote social justice.
“I grew up in a small, rural, Southern town in North Carolina,” she said. “On a daily basis, I witnessed racism, bigotry, and prejudice in both my school, but also my social life.”
She said she witnessed the same issues at the North Carolina university she attended.
“I recognized how important education is in combating social inequality and fighting for social justice,” she said.
“I want students to have the skills they need to go forth in the world and be successful and be productive members in society,” said Karis Riddle, 26, an English literature teacher at Charlotte Learning Academy. “Whether my students want to go to a four-year university, a community college, the military, or if they have other plans for themselves, my goal is to help them in whatever way I can so that they can reach their true potential.”
Riddle said she wants to pass on the message that success doesn’t come easily, that it requires hard work but is worth it.
Beyond that, she said, “Life is way more fun when you’re doing something you want to do, rather than doing something you have to do.”
This story was written as a part of the Charlotte Observer’s high school journalism Explorer Post.