Why I chose the Inner-City

How do you filter your decisions?

Many of us tend to see the world from different perspectives, our views of humanity, it’s problems and what is truly good and right. What you view as valuable and the way you look at the world are probably determined by your upbringing and community. These have influenced what you choose to do with your time and where you invest yourself. You have probably noticed things about people you look up to that you have integrated into the person you are and hope to become, I have. All of this together becomes the grid our choices pass through…

When it was time for me to decide where I wanted to teach, I had choices. I was blessed to have a few schools in various parts of Michigan that were interested in me and all of them seemed to be great opportunities. I still found myself turning them down. Turning these opportunities down came as  a surprise to some and not as much of a surprise to others that might have known my heart more. I wanted to teach where other teachers didn’t want to go.

After graduating from CMU last spring, I chose to work at at Northpointe Academy, a charter school in Highland Park, MI. Out of the 330 kids at Northpointe,  99% of the students are African American, 99% of them are on free or reduced lunch (that means many are hungry), 75% of the students come from single-parent homes (most of my students do not have dads).

This was not a glorified “I am the difference,” decision.

It was also not a “I hope they make a movie about me,” decision.

It just fit my heart, I guess. Passed through the filter.

I am just about to reach halfway through my first year teaching. In total honesty, teaching is hard. Teaching at this school is hard in a lot of ways. I have never felt so tired. Many of the lives of my students are reflected in houses surrounding my school; broken and abandoned. The kids are beautiful, funny, smart and worth it. I work with an all-star staff that really care about the students.

Lastly, I have the greatest support. My entire family, Heather, my Aunt Kim and Uncle Andrew, Dan and Kellie Kopp, the whole Eastside Vineyard church and my friends from Adam High school, have kept me full of encouragement and love.

I am looking forward to keeping you updated on the latest stories from being a music teacher at Northpointe. My hope is that this blog makes you smile and laugh. I hope stories I tell make you cry and feel broken.I hope it inspires you. I hope at the end of the day you feel closer to Jesus who sustains me and gives me Hope.

Joe

Check out a video I made for my students during our first semester: 

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