ONLY ON 3: Teacher ventures outside the classroom to help inner - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

ONLY ON 3: Teacher ventures outside the classroom to help inner city students

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Students inside Amy Ball's fifth grade class are learning about our solar system.

Most of these students come from single mother homes. If you draw a one mile circle around their school, that area sees about one robbery a week and an aggravated assault every three or four days. While the numbers look better within a quarter-mile away, Ms. Ball still knows she needs to understand what's happening outside the classroom.

“You also learn about their families and about their connections with the community and maybe why a child is having a bad day,” Ball said.

Jacolby Roberts is one of Ms. Ball's 23 students. Before he stepped foot inside her classroom, she already knew he had a knack for Science and Math through his test scores. She also knew he struggled in Language Arts. 

“So to me, that tells me the child has everything he needs to be successful in all facets of academics. But, for whatever reason, one of his weaknesses is in the Language Arts piece. Sometimes the written expression is tough,” she added.

The neighborhood Jacolby lives in with his Mom, twin brother and younger sister is known for gang activity. Even though the boys are just 10 years old, it is something this young mom thinks about.

“They don't see it in my home, so I don't think they will get into it. And when they see it on the streets, I let them know that's not something you want to be a part of,” Eboni Provost said.

Teachers for inner city schools deal with those realities every day.

LaFrederick Thirkill is the principal at Orchard Knob Elementary School and has seen how it makes learning harder.

“I wish there was more consideration at the state level with that because a lot of our students come to school with burdens and baggage that impact their focus to stay focused on their education throughout the day,” Thirkill said.

Teachers have to be able to steer these kids through the social and emotional maze many find themselves in and bring them into the academic world ready to learn.

“Getting in there and seeing what's going on in their lives because what we may think or someone from the outside may think is a negative situation, may just be a cultural difference,” Ball said.

This accountant turned teacher doesn't seem to see differences, only opportunity for some who just need a chance.

“Even though we may look different in our appearance, our race. We're no different on the inside,” Ball said.

And for students like Jacolby, that's all they need.
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