The October after his graduation from the College of Arts and Science was arguably one of the darkest months in Jake Ramsey’s life. Teaching math at Nashville’s Maplewood High School through nonprofit organization Teach For America, Ramsey, BA’09, had reached the phase of working in a high-poverty setting that might be labeled “despair.” Less than a third of his students could add or subtract negative numbers, though they weren’t far from his own age. Gang members sorted out grievances with a razor fight. One student—who had taken honors geography—called Florida another country.
The economics major was learning, all too well, the unspoken agreement present in many classrooms and one which affected his ability to teach: “It goes like this,” Ramsey says. “ ‘I won’t make you do any real work, or stress you in any way, and you don’t misbehave.’ ”Read more »
Mention Bangladesh and images of poverty, famine and environmental disaster might come to mind. That’s only half the story, says Steve Goodbred, associate professor of Earth and environmental sciences.
The Commons Center, the student center located in the heart of The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons at Vanderbilt, has a beautiful grand piano in the lobby, a glossy, whalelike monument to music begging to be made.