Q&A with Teach for America Corp member Cassie Ford

Allison B. Hudson

Name: My name is Cassie Ford.

Position, or subject you teach: I teach 5th grade English Language Arts and Social Studies.

School: I teach at Lowery Elementary.

Age: I am 27 years old.

Experience: This is my first year teaching. Before joining Teach For America, I practiced law in Tennessee.

Hometown: My hometown is Memphis, TN.

Education: I attended Xavier University of Louisiana where I studied Political Science. I also attended Vanderbilt University Law School.

Family: I am the youngest child of Horace and Sherry Ford. I come from a big, loving, Southern family.

Interests and hobbies: I enjoy trying new recipes and finding unique food joints. I also love going to live concerts.

In several sentences explain how and why you decided to become an educator:

I became an educator because I became frustrated with seeing so many in the court system who could not advocate for themselves and their community. I saw far too many people end up on the wrong side of the law simply because they lacked a quality education. I wanted to be a part of the solution, but I didn’t quite know how to do that in my former position. Then I met some amazing teachers - many of whom started in Teach For America,  through the KIPP schools program. Their energy, ideas and outlook on what our schools could be inspired me to become an educator.

Who is a teacher or professor who inspired you and how?

Professor Pamela Waldron-Moore at Xavier University of Louisiana has been and continues to be my education hero. As my mentor in college, she not only taught me class content, but she also taught me life lessons. She would help any student in need, but had no tolerance for apathy. She expected excellence from all of us. Most importantly, she showed just how much she cared when she came back to New Orleans after Katrina. With her credentials, many schools wanted to hire her but she came back for her students. She is a model of the tenacity, patience and strength it takes to be an educator.

Who is someone in current events who you admire and why?

I admire blogger Danielle Belton. I love to read her articles or listen to her commentary when she makes television and radio appearances. She’s very honest about her background and puts politics and culture into a perspective is refreshing. I don’t always agree with what she has to say, but I appreciate her use of humor, emotion and, most importantly, logic to form her opinions.

What are the greatest challenges in education today?

The greatest challenge in education today is lack of awareness. Even though I’ve always considered education important, it wasn’t until I started teaching that I realized how much goes into the proper education of just one child. The amount of collaboration needed both inside and outside the school hallways is tremendous.  Students need the support of parents, educators and community members to grow into knowledgeable citizens, but I am concerned that many outside the education field don’t have a clear understanding of the need and their potential to contribute.

What advice can you offer for someone who wants to go into education?

If I could offer advice to someone who wants to go into education, it would be to go in with the mindset of a learner. I have learned so many amazing things as the teacher in the classroom. There is no experience that can truly prepare you to teach except teaching, and opening one’s self to learning the craft will help in the long run.

What teaching moment is most memorable?

I love the moment when students who have struggled with a certain concept or skill have an “aha moment.”  Their faces light up with excitement and they want to keep working and show off their efforts because they know they have accomplished something.