Baltimore City teacher motivates and inspires her students through her own journey

BALTIMORE - Teachers do more than educate -- they inspire, motivate and care.  A teacher in Baltimore City does all that, and it's the journey she took to get where she is today that is the greatest lesson she can teach her students.

Rhia McKissic was born and raised in Baltimore and comes from a family of teachers.  Both of her parents work in the city school system.  You could say its in her blood, but when it came time to decide on a career, McKissic wanted nothing to do with teaching.

"I went to school for medicine, I wanted to be a doctor," said McKissic.

After taking a few classes, she realized medical school didn't fit her.  "The whole time I knew I needed to be teaching.  It was in my heart, I just felt I was running away from it."

Rather than run from it, McKissic decided to sign up for Teach for America.  She had the option to work outside of the city, and considered leaving her hometown to pursue her new career.  Then she landed a job at Dr. Bernard Harris Elementary school in Baltimore, and McKissic knew she had to stay.  She's using her "hometown advantage" not only to bond with her students but expand her teaching beyond the textbook.

"I know I need to teach my kids about advocacy and expose them to the things that I didn’t know, that I was missing out on when I was younger."

The influence of McKissic's parents are very present in her classroom.  Not willing to accept mediocrity, she pushes each of her third graders to go beyond the expectations placed upon them.  It's exactly what her parents did during her grade school years.

"I have a standard of excellence for my students because of the standard of excellence my parents have set for me," she said.

She's only in her first year of teaching and already McKissic is gaining so much from her students, all while working to make a difference in their young lives.

"My kids sense of confidence and sense of self worth is definitely blossoming.  I’m definitely living my purpose right now and I’m growing day to day with my students."

Teaching her kids that they too can find their purpose in life, no matter how they get there.

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