As an 8th grader, Ian Joyce was influenced by a U.S. History teacher and grew a passion for history and social justice. A life-changing undergraduate study-abroad experience in Kosovo inspired Ian to join Teach for America. Now as a TFA alum, Ian is a World History teacher at Eastway Middle School in Charlotte and founder of Gen-One non-profit for first generation college students. Ian is a graduate of Miami University, where he was a varsity swimmer.
What statistic have you recently heard that surprised you?
9% of low income students make it through college with a degree in hand
What have you recently learned from a student?
Never take anything for granted
What is the greatest challenge our educators face?
A public that thinks there is “one” problem with education. “The kids,” “their home lives,” “the teachers,” “the administration,” etc. It is a vast, complex system with vast and complex challenges.
When and where were you learning at your best?
In Kosovo when I studied abroad for 2 months. History and journalism came to life for me there. When an Albanian friend took me to a mass grave site where his uncle and 11 cousins were buried, I realized the implications of ethnic tensions and racism.
What quality do you most admire in a school leader?
Someone who knows when to lead and call the shots, and someone who steps back and lets teachers run wild with a new idea or vision. [Principal] Mary Webb at Eastway does both!
If you could change one thing about public education, what would it be?
Oh boy… I would change teacher salaries; bring teacher assistants to every classroom to handle all the data, test making and administrative tasks; cut class sizes in half; and offer hands-on courses at every school. (I realize that was 4 things!!)
What is your current state of mind?
We are getting philosophical here… my current state is “present.” I am a big believer in living in the present moment. In a less philosophical tone, I usually a constantly happy person.
Which living person do you most admire?
My mom. She is my hero, and has battled with various challenges and illnesses with incredible dignity and resolve.
Best piece of advice ever given to you?
My college swim coach to me, “Your potential can either be chains around your neck, or pearls around your heart. You decide what it is to you.”
Advice you would give to a young person interested in a profession in education?
Do you want to make the MOST important difference and change in a community? And do you not mind doing it with half the pay you probably deserve, three times the hours you expected, hardly any honors or recognition, and most days feeling like an internet browser with 1,000 tabs open (each with a million tasks and things to do)? If you can handle that, this profession is for you.