There's no drifting in Nick Krump's eighth-grade science class. "Give me your full attention," he says. And they do.
Across the hall, Sarah Bax's eighth-grade math students are working through an equation for the first time. Some aren't sure they can get this. Ms. Bax steps away from the chalkboard and looks them all straight in the face.
"Half of this battle is confidence," she says. "If you don't know, you can at least try. All that matters is that you're logical. You just take a step and then say, 'What is next?' If you're in here, you're going to learn," she adds.
Both teachers came to Paul Junior High School as Teach for America corps members, and opted to stay on after their two-year stints were up. Mr. Krump is in his third year and Bax is in her fifth.
Four of the eight "Distinguished Teachers" featured in the hall outside the school's main office are Teach for America corps members. Science and math teachers are in short supply in Washington, D.C., public schools, and Paul Junior High was the first in the District to accept Teach for America corps members to help meet this need, beginning in 1992.
But what appeals to Principal Cecile Middleton isn't just that corps members cover a base that needs covering. She admires their drive and enthusiasm - and the hours they are willing to put in outside of class to expand opportunities for students.
"Their insistence on hard work and love of learning has been wonderful for our children," she says.
"They are very into their subject matter. They like children. And they had good teachers themselves that they imitate," she adds.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society