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#WhyIChoseEducation: ‘In Order for a Society to Be Strong and Continue for Generations, Everyone Needs a Sound, Basic Education,’ Says Transformational Scholar Josh Webb

A photo of Josh Webb with the quote: In Order for a Society to Be Strong and Continue for Generations, Everyone Needs a Sound, Basic Education

Josh Webb knew he enjoyed working with kids, but he didn’t know he wanted to be a teacher until he joined Edgecombe Early College High School’s Scholar Teachers program.

The program, established by the school’s principal, Matthew Bristow-Smith ’14MSA, is designed to prepare high school students who are interested in teaching and support them through the college application and scholarship process.

During his time as a scholar teacher, Webb discovered a passion for the profession, especially when he realized how many opportunities were available to support students. 

“Ninety percent of it is connecting with families and connecting with kids, talking with them and just being there for them,” Webb said. 

After he graduated from Edgecombe County Early College High School, Webb enrolled in the NC State College of Education as a middle grades English language arts and social studies education major and joined the second cohort of the college’s Transformational Scholarships Program, which provides scholarships totaling $40,000 over four years to high school students from eastern North Carolina who will return to the region to teach.

“I couldn’t ask for a better place to be when transitioning to college,” Webb said. “You get support academically, of course, from [Transformational Scholars Director] Trisha Mackey and the other cohort members, but you also just get an immersive experience into eastern North Carolina and what it’s like to teach there.”

As a Transformational Scholar, Webb has taken advantage of opportunities to hear from panels of current teachers working in eastern North Carolina, and, with other scholars, he is also working on building a toolbox of resources for when he returns to teach in the region. 

“We have an idea of what being a student and living there is like,” Webb said. “Now, we get to learn how to be a teacher there. And so, that’s been fun. It’s like a special topics course, except you get to do the special topic course for your entire four years.” 

When Webb graduates, he is looking forward to returning to Edgecombe County and taking what he has learned in the College of Education to build a strong foundation for his students. 

Why I Chose Education: 

I joined [Edgecombe Early College High School’s] Scholar Teachers program, and I fell in love with it. I started enjoying learning about the methodology of teaching and learning about lesson planning and learning about how to connect with kids. 

I also wanted to provide representation because, as a gay, biracial male, I didn’t have that. But my main reason [for choosing education] is that, in order for a society to function, and in order for a society to be strong and continue for generations, everyone needs a sound, basic education.

How Education Shaped Me:

Education has always been a cornerstone of my life. I remember growing up and always thinking I’ll be going to college. College is not for everyone, and that’s totally fine, but I knew that for me I would always have to pursue higher education, which would mean that I would always need to find meaning and find a reason to keep pushing through. 

Luckily, through my educational experience, I had people there who were willing to help me find that why. And they were always my favorite teachers, and they were always willing to be a listening ear when I said, “Hey, I’m thinking about this career.” I remember them always being there and pushing me and being willing to look at the resources with me on how to get to that career or how to make that path possible. 

They were strong figures in my circle, and strong figures who propelled me and put me on the path to early college and then from early college put me on the path to NC State. 

What I Enjoy Most About the College of Education:

People there care about education. It always feels like a safe spot where I can go and be surrounded by people who I know won’t look at me and say, ‘Why are you choosing teaching?’ 

I can talk about the [issues facing education] and have someone say, “I understand that and understand why you still want to teach.” It just feels good to be around like-minded people and supportive people who have been in education for years, and people who are entering it for the first time and people who are pre-service like me. 

What Others Should Know About the College of Education:

It’s a strong, tight-knit group of people ready to support you and ready to help you leap into greatness. Even beyond the scholarship directors and the advising team, the professors who are within the College of Education are excellent. They bring real-world stories into the classroom. I hear people a lot of times say, “Well, I’m not going to major in education. I’m just going to major in history or English, and I’ll go teach.” What I would say to that is you’re doing a big disservice to both you and your students because you’re missing out on valuable experience. The [professors in the College of Education] don’t just come in and say, “All right guys, here’s Bloom’s Taxonomy.” Instead, they say, “Oh, let me show you how I did this” or “I have a story for you; the first time I used Bloom’s Taxonomy, I saw this.” They don’t just tell you what something is. They also immerse you in it. And that’s valuable, and it’s vital. I think that’s what makes us unique, but what also makes it just so exciting to wake up and go to class every day.

The Last Thing That Inspired Me:

I watched [the movie] Cadillac Records. It’s about Etta James and a couple of other major artists around that time period and their struggle for freedom, to sing and produce at a level that they wanted to. I think that was so inspiring to me because Etta James herself is biracial. And I watched her overcome and triumph and go through things and experience things that most people don’t. And that was just inspiring to watch.