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I came to America from Nigeria with my family when I was 18, leaving behind a country that was in the midst of recovery after an apocalyptic civil war that cost over a million lives and saw our government changing hands time and again through military coups. While many in Nigeria at the time saw emigration to another country to further oneself as being a sign of opulence and wealth, this was not the case with us. My parents, hard working, honorable, wonderful people, were poor and illiterate, having never attended school. I resolved that my parents sacrifices for me would never be in vain. I adopted their standards of how to conduct yourself in life, to be disciplined, persistent in your pursuits and above all to work hard at everything you do.
While in high school, I read The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. This book spoke to me, and the reading of it was a defining moment, particularly the development of my own maxims for success in life: You can, if you think you can. Seven simple words. I wrote those words down in bold letters and set them beside my bed. To this day, I have lived this motto, never accepting or listening to others who tried to reign in my aspirations, never giving in to the naysayers. Whenever I can, I tell people that they have no limitations except those that they choose to impose upon themselves.
I worked for five years as an accounting administrative assistant before I came to the conclusion that this was not my life's work. I had no passion for this type of work, and I wanted work that would offer me the chance to learn. It occurred to me that no other job offers greater opportunity for life-long learning than teaching. Thus, I resolved to become an educator. My research interests include, but are not limited to, Urban Education in America, particularly bridging the alleged educational achievement gap. The question immediately comes up, does this gap truly exist or is it a synthetic concept, created to achieve the aims of the author or whom the author represents, a special interest group, politician, or leader in education. It is my aim to explore this concept and critically examine its validity. This concept has been a part of discussion for some time now, fifty years, in fact, and can be traced to Brown vs. the Board of Education. Ever since the desegregation of schools in the United States, there has been this issue of the achievement gap between the races, which was later shown to be at least partially socio-economically based.
I am most engaged with the question of how to address this educational achievement gap. What creative remedies can be developed? Money is oftentimes one of the largest issues. One could argue that while a bipartisan No Child Left Behind Act is in place, that continued avoidance of federal income taxes by America's largest corporations is tying the hands of the federal government. What kind of expenditure would be necessary, per student, to remedy the achievement gap? Is it really just a question of money. I want to explore these complex questions.
Perhaps it is the digital divide which is the crucial, deciding factor. If a school system simply cannot offer a student body the requisite information technology, how are they to compete in the national arena, in this golden age of information? This would indicate that it is not the fault of the teachers, nor the students, but the technology that is lacking in school systems. The digital divide spills over into library systems and even the home. A school with online education tracking software for the parent is wonderful technology, but how is a parent who does not have a computer or Internet access to utilize such a tool? And a library system that charges for printouts is a hardship for children or parents with little or no money. These are the sorts of issues that need to be addressed and resolved if socioeconomically depressed inner city school children are to succeed. We live in a society that speaks of equal opportunities. Students need to be given an equal opportunity for success.
For nearly a decade, I have experienced the joys of classroom teaching. The interpersonal interaction with young adults is overwhelmingly and intrinsically rewarding. It is my belief that I have exhausted every possible avenue of promotion within my current career. I have met every challenge over the years with an open mind and increasing professionalism and effectiveness. But I want more from my career, and I need new challenges, which is why I hope to be accepted to your program.
I have long been an advocate for young adults since they bear the brunt of many stigmas. Yet I have found that being a classroom teacher limits my abilities of an advocate for young adults. I want to do more for teens and it is my belief that I can do more, and on a larger scale, by entering into a course of study that focuses on the issues of administrative leadership and social justice in education for K-12 students and beyond. A doctoral degree in urban leadership will equip me with the requisite tools to be able to tackle the most fundamental problems in the American school system, going to the roots of the problems that are literally tying the hands of many dedicated teachers in inner city schools. With my extensive background as an inner city educator, and solid foundation in urban studies, this is a natural progression for me. My drive and my passion will lead me to achieve these ideals, and a doctorate will open doors for me to work more effectively for the betterment of our educational systems.
For nearly a decade, I have maintained a conceptual continuity in my professional career. I have dedicated myself to the education of Los Angeles teens as a credentialed high school classroom teacher. This devotion, coupled with my refined approach to my work even outside of the classroom has made me a successful, efficient and thorough teacher. While working for Los Angeles school districts, I have achieved a high level of cultural competency, working alongside other educators from around the country with differing heritages. I come from Nigeria, yet consider myself a Nigerian-American, and bring with me a heritage that I am proud of. Moving to L.A. from Omaha, Nebraska, I have lived and worked in a city which has large populations of African-Americans and Hispanics. As an educator, I recognize the need to work with not only students, but their parents, as well, creating relationships which will aid in my students success. Through these relationships I have been exposed to the rich tapestry of diverse cultural backgrounds.As a successful educator, I have mastered the basics, devising and planning daily lesson plans, selecting and utilizing appropriate materials, teaching aids, and composing demonstrations that will effectively convey the most fundamental concepts in an assortment of subjects. My aim has always been to provide explanations that are clear and have long-challenged myself to develop increasingly creative approaches to the educational process. I go the extra mile with my students, and never shy away from the possibility that some may need further attention or tutoring.
My own higher education began with obtaining my Bachelor's degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from the University of XXXX, a school with an excellent national reputation. I became interested in Urban Studies at this point, as I had literally lived through the racial tensions of the 1970s. Indeed, it was in 1976 that Omaha first began court-ordered integrated busing. I completed my Master's Degree in Urban Studies at XXXX University, and later re-located to East Bay, California, where my teaching career began.
I want very much to attend XXXX University because it has a reputation over 80 years in the making. Secondly, XXXX is dedicated to graduate study, specifically. It stands to reason that with 80 years of experience in only graduate study, this makes for a singular and excellent academic experience. The reputation of the university is not merely for one or two subjects or one particular school, but for providing elite education in the field that I want to explore further: the social sciences. The teacher to student ratio is excellent, with class sizes at an average of 25 students to professor making for an intimate experience, and plenty of room for personalized, one-on-one discussion. The School of Educational Studies represents further specialization within this framework of excellence in teaching. I thank you for considering my application to your esteemed program.