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Gen-Z Back To School: When The Student Becomes The Teacher

August 18, 2022


Summer is quickly coming to an end, and most of America turns its attention to one of our favorite pastimes, preparing to go back to school.

Walk into any store in America and you are quickly greeted with Back To School displays. Families are focusing on school supply lists and making sure their students are prepared to learn. There are also the constant news stories on the alarming teacher shortage that many school districts across the nation are facing.

At the same time, most students are feeling some sort of combination of excitement and uneasiness. The last couple of years haven’t been easy at all. Just getting through two years of forced online learning, parents trying to ban books, our natural hair being used to discriminate against us, and what seems like constant news headlines about school shootings has everyone feeling all types of emotions.

For me there is also the added feeling of a new academic transition.

While many of my Gen Z peers are making the jump from high school to college and moving into dorms, I am making a transition from student to teacher. Yep, I just turned 20 this month and this academic year I am returning to school not as a student but as a teacher charged with engaging students in AP Government and other social studies courses.

When I graduated from SMU Dedman School of Law this past May, I was fortunate to have different job opportunities to consider. I interviewed with a few law firms and thought about jumping right into practicing law. I also talked with a couple of non-profit organizations that do meaningful legal work in communities who often lack access to legal services. As I contemplated those opportunities I couldn’t shake the calling I felt to return to my undergraduate teacher training education roots and realized that at this point in my life I could take time to consider a non-traditional career path with my juris doctorate and make a deliberate decision to take an impact year to teach in our k-12 education system.

Haley Taylor Schlitz is 19 years old and the youngest Black person to graduate from law school in the history of the United States. In May of 2022, Haley graduated with her Juris Doctor from the SMU Dedman School of Law. In May of 2019, she became Texas Woman’s University’s youngest graduate in history when she graduated with honors with a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas Woman’s University College of Professional Education. She is also the host of the online show Zooming In w/Gen Z.

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