Live Where You Teach
Earlier this summer, McAllen, TX high school teacher Roberto Garza moved to Indianapolis for the Urban Leaders Summer Fellowship. The goal of the ULSF is to recruit the best and brightest for an intensive, seven-week experience that seeks to empower underserved communities. His love for grassroots community initiatives made Garza a perfect fit. Simultaneously, the Harrison Center was awarded a Plan 2020 CityCorps Fellowship to explore best practices for teacher housing, with Garza serving as the researcher for this project. "CityCorps is the young professional engagement program for Plan 2020, the Bicentennial Plan for Indianapolis-Marion County. CityCorps participants apply their talents and critical thinking to the challenges and opportunities faced by Indiana’s capital city."
Throughout his 7 weeks in Indianapolis, Garza researched national best practices for teacher housing with the goal of encouraging teachers to live near their schools. Additionally, he put his experience as a video instructor to use, producing a short marketing piece that tells the stories of several high school teachers and their thoughts on the importance of living near the school where they teach. Though back in Texas, the work he left behind drives home the idea that the key to an area’s revitalization is establishing a sense of culture, community, and place. For, as he stated in his work, “When these aspects come together, it forms the heart of a neighborhood . . .When teachers invest in a home near their school, they’re investing in the families served by the school. They’re building relationships with the families that live there and gaining a greater understanding of the changes and challenges faced by the families and their students."