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Meet Raby Gueye of Teach For America and Teach For Senegal in West Phoenix

Today we’d like to introduce you to Raby Gueye.

Raby, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My family emigrated from Senegal, Sub-Saharan Africa when I was seven. None of us spoke English. I learned early on that I would need the education to succeed in life. My father worked as a janitor, and my mother was a housewife. When my parents would visit my school, I would always have to translate for them. Mrs. Kohl, my fourth-grade teacher, told me that I would need to learn fast so I could advocate for my family. She had me take home extra books during the summers to help me improve my English. I remember being a child and arguing about bills with cable and utility companies. At one point, when my brother became ill, I had served as a translator between my parents and the doctors. Due to the language barrier, the doctors never fully explained to my parents that my brother had contracted Valley fever. This eventually led to my brother’s death. Throughout my life experiences, I have come to realize the importance of education.

My dedication to higher learning is insurmountable. Today, with my story, I can empower and touch the lives of students. From teaching in the slums of India to attending a low-income elementary school in south Phoenix, I have witnessed inequality on all levels.

In 2016, I was recruited by Teach For America to teach in an underserved school in Phoenix. As a teacher, I prioritized building strong relationships with my students and families to both create an environment where all families feel welcomed and included. My students have found tremendous success. Last year, as a second-year teacher, my fifth graders earned the highest scores in the district and made over a year and a half of growth in one school year. In my third year of teaching, my students are again making similar progress.

Currently, I am working on launching a program called Teach for Senegal in my native country of Senegal. Teach For Senegal is a non-profit which seeks to improve educational outcomes for all children in Senegal by recruiting and training leaders who are locally rooted to teach in underserved communities. I was lucky to have had the opportunity I did in the USA, but most Senegalese children are not so fortunate. I believe it’s completely unfair that the socio-economic circumstances that Senegalese children are born to determine the level of education and quality of life they are likely to attain. I want Senegalese children to be proactive, critical-thinkers who can create new opportunities for themselves and their communities. I want them to be proud of and value where they come from, to be active citizens in Senegal with a deep knowledge of the historical, social, and economic catalysts for change.

Has it been a smooth road?
As the first female to ever graduate from college in my family, the road has been challenging. I have had to figure out college application forms, fees, financial aid forms, books, tuition on my own because I know the impossible burden it would be on my parents.

We’d love to hear more about your work.
I am a teacher and a social entrepreneur. I think what sets me apart from other teachers and entrepreneurs is the approach.

What’s your outlook for the industry over the next 5-10 years?
In 5-10 years, I want to see communities in Senegal working towards equal opportunity for all children.

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