ACCESSible Inspiration

For the past four months I have been teaching a group of exceptional Moroccan students as part of a US State Department English Access Micro-scholarship Program. The program provides English instruction to under-privileged youths in the Rabat-Sale area, as they follow our high school level curriculum.


At AMIDEAST, most of our students are upper-middle class Moroccans, who have the means to pay for English instruction. Therefore, the Access program is unique in that it strives to open educational doors for exceptional students who would otherwise not be able to pay for their classes.

My students are all stand outs, and in comparison to my other high school classes, their motivation and determination to master the English language is actually inspirational. They are thirsty for knowledge. They ask poignant questions. They are appreciative of their educational opportunities.

Not all my classes are like this, however. Last term, I taught three sections of Inspiration 3 (the name of the 3rd level high school course). I would frequently refer to it as un-inspiration 3, or constipation 3, or kill me, I can’t stand this class 3. My (paying) students would come to class and play with their iPhones, chat with their friends, and take all sorts of liberties with their break time. I would leave work on Wednesday’s and Saturday’s after a grueling 3 hours of blank stares and snotty girls with raging teenage hormones, and crawl into my bed exhausted and disappointed.

Finally, I decided to stop wasting my energy on those who were killing me softly. I decided to focus on the students who showed up prepared and ready to engage…… and I’m a better person and teacher for it.

I believe that students need to take responsibility for themselves. Especially high schoolers. I don’t want anyone to fall through the cracks, but at a certain point I had to realize what was effective and what wasn’t. What proved effective was to cater my classes to those who wanted to learn.

My Access class was (and still is) the uplifting end to my work week. They continue to amaze and motivate me to be a better teacher. They demonstrate time and again that education is the most valuable thing a person can possess. Nobody can take it from you. It’s yours forever, and you are responsible for cultivating it.

Education is like a tree. If we plant firm roots in rich soil, we can grow our branches and blossom beautiful fruits and flowers and leaves. What’s more, trees are also active participants in the well being of the rest of society. They transform CO2 into O2 so that we may all breathe clean air. A responsible, well educated person can also do something of the sort.

I think we all need to ask ourselves more often: in what ways can our education serve as our foundation for service. How can we help to create a more healthy society for everyone to live in? What are our talents? How have we honed them thus far, how can we continue to hone them in the future?

** This post is not an official AmidEast or Department of State website. The views and information presented are my own and do not represent AmidEast, the Access Program, or the Department of State.

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4 thoughts on “ACCESSible Inspiration

  1. Sarah Daoudi says:

    you are fantastic.

  2. Betsy Austin says:

    Wow….great stuff Lizzie. I think you are very wise to cater to those interested. It is a subtle message to those uninspiring students that they are NOT going to waste your time. And it reaffirms to those who are engaged that they are worth your time. It just might reel in some of the less engaged?! Rock on…..:)
    What’s your take on Mali and Algeria? I’m of course following it all very closely through various media. I think France is in for a long haul here.
    Gros bisous!
    ps: Jacque and Michel are slowly making progress. God, they’re fun! I have 14 students now and feel maxed out! Yeah!

  3. chris parsons says:

    thanks..great to read your writing and thoughts

  4. J. Stein says:

    Lizzie- you are doing an incredible job and I am so glad you decided to do this! These students will remember you and you them forever!

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