Edgar Zamora: 2007 NC Teaching Fellow
Posted January 25, 2019 5:00 a.m. EST
Updated January 25, 2019 6:47 a.m. EST
This interview was conducted by email as part of a series on teacher diversity in North Carolina.
- Read the full series: NC's teacher diversity gap
- Read more interviews with other North Carolina Teaching Fellows
What years were you a Teaching Fellow, and what college did you attend?
I was a Teaching Fellow at Appalachian State University from 2007 to 2011.
Why did you apply to be a Teaching Fellow, and how did the program affect your life?
I applied to be a Teaching Fellow for several reasons, but my main concern was affording college. I was the first in my family to attend college and my family comes from a humble background, emigrating from Mexico in search for a better life.
I applied because I knew that I wanted to teach math. A former teacher of mine who was a first generation Teaching Fellow recommended the program to me. I applied and got in to my first choice at ASU.
Teaching Fellows had a tremendous impact on my life. Not only did it help me pay for college, but it also ensured that I was well-prepared to go into my first years of teaching. I never really felt the famous overwhelming feeling of being a first-year educator, and I attribute that entirely to preparation by Teaching Fellows and the excellent professors at the Reich College of Education.
As a Teaching Fellow, I was able to gain field experience and numerous enrichment opportunities as soon as I was freshman. The Teaching Fellows staff at ASU was like a family -- they took care of me and guided me along my way.
What have you done since college, and what are you doing now?
Since college, I have worked as a math teacher and soccer coach at Yadkin Early College High School. I am currently in my 8th year as a teacher in our Grade A School.
Why have you stayed in (or left) teaching?
I have stayed in teaching year after year, despite finishing my contract with Teaching Fellows after successfully teaching at a NC public school for four years. I stay because I truly love teaching and I love my school. Year after year, I come back with a sense of unfinished business and new goals to accomplish.
As an eighth-year educator, I see myself as a leader and a team-player who wants to contribute to ensuring that our school stays successful, competitive, and student-centered towards first generation college-seekers like I once was.
What advice do you have for colleges hoping to recruit more people of color and men to study teaching?
In a sense, I was recruited into teaching because a teacher saw potential in me and made me aware that our county did not have many young, Latino, male educators to be a positive role model for them.
We need minorities and males in education, but I think that they have to feel wanted and appreciated. Colleges need to find ways to help out with scholarship programs like Teaching Fellows and actively recruit them. Their campuses and teaching programs need to make them feel an important and necessary part in the educational field.
Too many potential educators do not make it because of this thought: Why would I go into college debt and then go into a profession that does not highly compensate me?
What advice do you have for schools hoping to retain people of color and men as teachers?
My advice here is the same and comes from my personal experience. I teach at the same school year after year because I have a purpose here. I feel necessary and I take that responsibility seriously. I have had excellent principals who have valued me and helped me evolve into a servant leader at our school.
My county has also made me feel appreciated by offering me opportunities for career advancement. I think that if a school wants to retain people like me, they must value the teacher and coach the teacher into self-improvement and give him opportunities to lead.