My name is Yegzeru Amare and I was born in Ethiopia. I came to the United States when I was nine, thanks to my mother’s dedication to UNICEF. My mother was transferred to the U.S. and worked hard to bring her eight children to this land of opportunity. As an ESL (English as a Second Language) student, I found school difficult, but I was determined to learn English.
I attended Cathedral Prep Seminary, where I met wonderful teachers whom I still keep in contact with. From the time was I a young boy, I was very much involved in my parish and even considered the priesthood. I was an altar server, a sacristan, a religious instructor and worked in the rectory part-time. For several years, I also served as the Youth Group coordinator. Looking back, I remember that this job caused me the most stress but also gave me the most joy. During my senior year in high school, I was introduced to the Maspeth Town Hall PS 229 afterschool program and became a TASC (The After School Corporation) AmeriCorps member. I found that helping my peers with school work and building their self-confidence was a satisfying experience. It was here that I found my calling as a teacher. The TASC AmeriCorps program helped me get through college, paying a portion of my tuition for two years while I worked in the afterschool program. At PS 229, I helped my students start a recycling program in the school cafeteria which continues to this day and won a Golden Apple community service award from the city of New York.
My experiences working at PS 229 through high school and college, helped me realize that what I really wanted to do was work with kids. AmeriCorps gave me exposure to the classroom, and although I liked being a counselor, I knew that I could do more by thinking big, and that one day I might become a principal.
When I graduated from college, I became a substitute teacher at Maspeth Town Hall PS 229. The following year, I was hired as a full-time sixth grade teacher. I’ve just begun my fifth year teaching sixth grade and I’m also working in the afterschool program each afternoon teaching ESL, coordinating sports and teaching adult English classes to neighborhood parents on Thursday nights. I’m also earning my Masters Degree in Administration and Supervision. I use the skills and lessons I learned through working with an afterschool program every day and I’m sure I’ll use them throughout my career.