In our first I & H Spotlight, we talk to Genesis Keller, a 24-year-old LA-based teacher with the Teach for America organization.
Aditi: Who inspires you?
Genesis: Definitely my mom as well as the other women in my family. I’m also really inspired by what my friends are doing. We make a point to support each other and we’re always bouncing ideas off of each other. The kids I work with inspire me and make me want to be a better teacher and person, overall. They teach me about myself and about what’s important in life. My job in general inspires me because I love that I develop meaningful relationships with my co-workers, and I feel like I’m making a positive impact in the lives of these kids, in some way.
A: What is something that you have just discovered about yourself or that you’re newly confident about?
G: I’ve recently been trying to assert myself more, and trust my gut instincts. I’ve been feeling more confident in my teaching abilities and responsibilities as a teacher, so now I’m trying to trust that skill wholeheartedly and be confident in myself.
A: What’s your biggest challenge right now?
G: Right now, I’m getting ready to start teaching at a new school, to an older age group. The great thing is that I’m moving from middle school to high school with a lot of my students and I’m staying within my organization, so that gives me a great sense of stability. But it’s definitely a big change and I’m also moving into a new apartment.
On a larger scale, I’m trying to find a way to incorporate my love of film into my growing passion for teaching. I majored in film in college but got a great, but somewhat unexpected, opportunity to work for Teach for America in Los Angeles, which is where I’m originally from. I decided to take a chance with TFA, and I gained a new passion. I learned that you have to be open-minded because you never know what will inspire you and give you purpose. Now that I have my second degree in teaching and a stable job that means a lot to me, I’m brainstorming ways that I can make film a bigger part of my life again.
A: Do you have any ideas about how you want to do that?
G: Well the school where I’m teaching recently offered me the opportunity to develop and teach my own elective course, and I’d like to teach a film class. I want to show my students that you can get a degree in something you are passionate about – it doesn’t just have to be law school or business school. Eventually, I’d also like to find some non-profit film-work that I can do in my spare time.
A: Do you have any strategies that you use when solving problems? How do you make difficult life-changing decisions without feeling overwhelmed?
G: This summer I’ve been really into hiking and spending a lot of time outside. I love exploring LA and finding new places. It helps the city feel new even though I’ve lived here almost my whole life. When I’m feeling stressed I also really enjoy journaling. When dealing with a problem, there are tons of thoughts and potential decisions bouncing around in my head but when I write it down, it seems less overwhelming and I can tackle the problem one step and a time. I also want to start volunteering!