This article was written by SOE Alumna Allison Peña (MA 13) and first appeared on the Mississippi Teacher Corps website. A full version is available here. The final application deadline for the Teacher Corps’ 2018 cohort is April 1. If you have questions about the application process, let us know!
In April 2011, as a college senior, I received two job offers on the same day: One to teach secondary mathematics in the Mississippi Delta with Teach for America and the other to serve as the American Fellow at a boarding school in England, helping students apply to universities in the United States and teaching History courses. As a lifelong Anglophile, it wasn’t much of a decision— I chose to go to England.
I gleefully left for a year, fulfilling a lifelong dream of living abroad after college. As the year wore on, and I started thinking about returning home, I could not shake the feeling that I was still supposed to go to Mississippi somehow. I had never been to the state before. I had only one acquaintance from here. Pretty much everything I’d ever heard about the place could be summed up in Nina Simone’s “Mississippi Goddam.” And yet, despite all this, Mississippi seemed to be calling my name.
Fast forward to 2013, and I drove across the state border from Alabama and entered Mississippi for the first time. I was overjoyed to be on my way to Mississippi Teacher Corps Summer School and cautiously optimistic about the challenge that lay before me as a math teacher at Meridian High School. I knew I wanted to be an educator, but I never imagined that I would stay in Mississippi beyond my two-year commitment.
It has been nearly five years, and I have no intention of leaving my adopted home state anytime soon. While I loved my time as a teacher, I have since transitioned out of the classroom. This past September, I signed on as the Director of Education and Public Programs at the Museum of Mississippi History, which, together with the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, opened on Dec. 9, 2017 to celebrate the state’s bicentennial. The museums work together to tell the full scope of Mississippi’s history, with the Museum of Mississippi History offering a wide, 15,000 year lens and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum covering the approximately 30 years of the civil rights movement in Mississippi in more depth. Since opening in December, the museums have welcomed over 80,000 visitors from all over Mississippi, across the United States, and several international locations. Read More