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Haverford College

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Jacob Carroll '09

What is your current job?

I am currently Director of Humanities Instruction for Teach For America's Mississippi Region

Why did you choose this profession?

After working as an art teacher in the Mississippi Delta region for two years, I became aware of the cultural inequity that our rural students suffer. Here, in the cradle of some of our country's most significant history, music, and art movements, our students have none of the access to cultural institutions that their urban and wealthier counterparts do. In fact, their identities as rural communities are devalued. I believe in the notion of democracy, but I don't believe our nation will be an actual democracy until all our students have the cultural identity and knowledge to make their vote count as their own. That is why I believe it is critical to ensure that our students are provided with an extraordinary education in art, music, dance, social studies, and languages: these are the contents that genuinely broaden horizons and give students an appreciation for their own cultural identity.

What more do you wish to accomplish in your professional career?

I would like to continue focusing on what arts education can do for our country's students - particularly in rural areas. I want to advocate more for quality humanities instruction in our public school systems nation-wide.

Tell us about a decision or change you made that turned out to be a positive career move.

After working for two years as an art teacher in the Mississippi Delta, my wife (Sarah-SoonLing Blackburn '09) and I decided to get away and earn our Masters degrees in London. It only took us three months to realize, however, that our hearts were still back here in the Delta. So, I applied to work on-staff with Teach For America as a coach for new teachers. It felt so right when I was offered the job: it was a decision I had made based on a genuine pull to affect change and a real love for a geographical location and the people within it. As a result, I was 100% committed, and I worked tirelessly to affect the change I wanted to see. I have since been asked to move into a different position, my current directorship.

How has Haverford influenced your professional career?

Haverford was where I had the opportunity to discover three key things: that the humanities are integral to our life and identity as lifelong learners, that education is a right because it is the foundation of our democracy and a key to happiness, and that listening to others is the first step forward. Because of my time at Haverford, I am a more compassionate, determined, and critical thinker.

The Strawbridge Observatory at Haverford College houses 12-inch and 16-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes which are actively used by students in Haverford astronomy classes.

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