Alumni Spotlight: Arielle Moseley
April 10, 2017
Arielle Moseley always knew she wanted to make a difference. While an undergraduate student at the University of Chicago, she decided to put her education into action and create change in the community she loved. After graduation, SAGA Innovations gave Arielle the opportunity to have an immediate impact, tutoring and mentoring high school students for one year. Working collaboratively with her team at Julian High School, she helped pioneer an all-girl youth guidance program. SAGA helped Arielle discover her passion for teaching, and she knew she wanted to continue her impact from the classroom. She joined the 2015 Teach For America corps and began teaching pre-Kindergarten in her home city of Chicago.
Q: I’d love to hear more about your path to Teach For America. How did you decide to join SAGA? And what was your path to TFA?
A: I was privileged and fortunate enough to gain so much knowledge in college–but learning does nothing if you don’t apply it and create change. I felt frustrated because I was learning from some of the strongest minds, but I wasn’t doing anything to make an impact. As part of my sorority, I often did philanthropic work in Chicago, specifically with the socioeconomically disenfranchised communities. I decided I wanted to make that my career, so SAGA was perfect. It was a one-year program, where I could make a difference in education, and see if teaching was the right fit. After SAGA, I was hooked on being in the classroom, and I wanted to do more, so I joined Teach For America. When I started leading my own classroom, I gained a better understanding of how Chicago’s systemic issues affect our schools.
Q: How have your personal life experiences shaped your career path?
A: My family believes education can enhance social mobility, so I was always encouraged to go to college. My mother recently accomplished a personal goal and graduated from college herself; we walked across the stage at the same time. Aside from just my parents, I had teachers who noticed me and fostered my potential. Even though I did not attend an illustrious private school, I received a world class education from teachers who really cared.
At the same time, I saw a direct conflict between how the media portrayed my city and the reality of urban education. People were saying negative things about schools where I really thrived. As a black woman, it seemed so wrong that my value and education was seen as inferior to my more affluent peers. Now that I’m a teacher, I realize that my identity as a woman of color taught by people of color has grounded me. I think being a Black leader in front of my pre-K students can be as powerful and affirming for them as it was for me.
Q: How did you grow personally and professionally through your service with SAGA?
A: SAGA was my first real job. I learned quickly that my students depended on me, and I had to come prepared and hold myself accountable. That made me really want to come to work. I had the opportunity to work alongside invested and passionate people who were there because they genuinely cared about the kids. SAGA helped me refine my own professional interests. Personally, I gained a deeper sense of respect for the teaching profession, and what it means to support and care for your students. I also learned how to earn respect from my students. They’re self-aware human beings with complex feelings; you have to show them you’re invested if you want to build relationships.
Q: How did your service with SAGA prepare you to be a leader with Teach For America?
A: SAGA cut down my learning curve significantly, and helped me become a better teacher. The first year is a struggle for everyone, but SAGA helped me build a foundation. I was able to create lessons, manage my time, and work collaboratively on a team. More than anything, SAGA helped me embrace the joy factor in my classroom. If I can make learning fun, my students will engage and enjoy learning. Everything needs to be centered around the students and what they need to succeed.
Q: What has been your biggest inspiration to continue in the fight to end educational inequity?
A: The need is so urgent. There are so many parents who want the best for their children, but there are forces outside their control preventing their kids from achieving their potential. Before you can make change at a structural level, you have to understand the issues first-hand.
As a Pre-K teacher, I’m setting up my students’ first experience with school. As a woman of color teaching students of color, I have the responsibility to help them feel empowered from a young age. I had great teachers who told me I should hold my head up high. I want to be that person for my students. At the end of the day, I’m serving my students and their families. It’s a noble profession and I’m privileged to be here.
SAGA, TFA-Chicago ’15
Start your career of impact. Apply now to the 2017-2018 SAGA Fellowship!