Jacksonville native Braxton Stewart has been impacting young lives as an educator the past two years through Teach For America.
Now as a member of the Peace Corps, Stewart is headed to Macedonia, where he will teach English to Kindergarten through 8th grade students. Stewart credits his experience at Jacksonville High School for influencing his pursuit of a career in education.
“Two teachers that had a tremendous impact on me, Mr. Chelsvig and Mr. Herring. The passion that they brought to their subjects, and recognizing the kind of person that takes to everyday come into a classroom full of kids that you know may not be as interested. But to bring that passion and that excitement into education, they really inspired me,” says Stewart.
Stewart also spoke about wanting to provide quality education to underprivileged students.
“I’ve had a lot of opportunities in my life because of how hard my parents have worked for me, and how hard my family has worked. They’ve always supported me and I felt very privileged, and I recognized that I could use that privilege in two ways, I could use it to further my own self interest, or I could use that privilege to insure that I worked to bring others the same opportunities that I have,” Stewart explains.
Between May 2014 and May 2016, Stewart taught elementary school classes within the Saint Louis Public School District. He elaborated on those experiences…
“I really just wanted to understand, if urban education is the way it is, why is it the way it is. There’s so much at play and it’s not one answer or the other. It’s a breadth of issues that are all inextricably interconnected,” Stewart says.
Tentatively scheduled to leave the U.S. in the latter weeks of September, Stewart has spent the summer studying Macedonian culture and language in preparation for the move.
Editor’s Note: The original article incorrectly stated that Stewart worked between May 2014 and the summer of 2016 for no pay. Stewart taught in the Saint Louis Public School District between May 2014 and May 2016. Stewart only taught with no pay for summer school between May and July of 2014.