A Teacher’s Life – Ms. Caton

Jordan Fowler, Staff writer

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A lot of times people forget that teachers are human beings. I sat down and talked with high school teacher Ms Caton, and I got to know a little bit about her personality, and her life. I asked her a few questions, so that we could all learn about this amazing person, and her thoughts on her job.

Can you tell us a little about your childhood?

“I grew up in New York in a town called Nyack, which is about twenty minutes away from Manhattan. I really loved growing up there because I got the best of both worlds, I grew up with a back yard and a pool, I was able to take a twenty minute bus drive or drive into the city and I got all of the experiences of New York City. I was able to go to broadway shows, and I was able to see Ellis Island, all different things that people dream about doing one day. When I went abroad a lot of people always said, “you’re from New York, I always wanted to live there.” It was really cool growing up in a place people dreamed about. I also grew up with my mom, and I like to call us the Gilmore Girls because she’s my best friend.”

That is really cool, New York and Baltimore aren’t extremely far, but can you tell us what made you come to Baltimore City?

“So when I was looking at colleges I knew that if I wasn’t going to be in Manhattan, I knew that I wanted to be close to home but not extremely close. So when it came down to it there was Fordham University, which is in Brooklyn, Boston University and Loyola, and then it just became who offered me the most financial aid and if they offered the program I wanted. Like I said, I had a single mom who wasn’t working at the time. I got accepted in all three schools, but with Loyola the financial aid paid for almost everything.”

So right now you teach college readiness for literacy, why is it important that seniors take that class?

“I think it’s important because a lot of kids, at least through my experience, don’t know what it takes to be in college. When we talk about college and career readiness, what does it really mean to be in a college course? What does the world really look like? You know a lot of my kids have big dreams about wanting to go to UCLA, and other big colleges but they don’t want to put in the work to write a paragraph. Not saying they aren’t smart enough to go to UCLA, but the work ethic is just something we’re lacking, and so that’s something I try to teach my younger students; how much effort and hard work it takes for your dreams to come into fruition, so I think that’s something we need seniors to see, because think about it right now, we are in school for free, but when you go to college you don’t want to not do anything because you’re wasting your money.”

So would you say that Baltimore City, or Green Street Academy, or just the students themselves have failed in that aspect of preparing for college?

“I don’t think it’s a Green Street thing, I think it’s a systemic thing. I think Green Street Academy does a good job of holding our kids to high standards, I really do believe that, but I think that systematically, for example a report came out yesterday saying we now have the highest graduation rate the US has ever seen I believe it was 83 percent, but with that we’re lowering our standards, kids are graduating not being able to read and write, we’re failing them if that’s the case.  One thing that I say to my tenth graders all the time is, I can only push you so much. I can only push you fifty percent of the way, but if you don’t do the other fifty percent then I can’t help that.”

At what point should a teacher give up on a student?

“I don’t think we should ever give up on a student, ever. I get frustrated with my students when they give up on themselves and sometimes I take a step back because I’m not going to keep pestering them over and over again. Like I said before, the student has to want to, and I would like to think no teacher here would ever give up on a student. If you are willing to give up on a student, why would you become a teacher?”

In five years where do you see yourself? Still teaching? President of the United States?

“Not president, but I would like to think I have my masters in educational policy, and I would like to work in the government, or some non profit outside of the government to make systemic changes.”

As you can see Ms. Caton is a teacher who clearly cares about the students that she works with, and she is willing to go that extra step to make sure that they succeed.

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