An Educator is Born

THREE: After 9/11, Jerib A. Carson, here with daughter Sarah,
pursued his desire to be a teacher.

On Sept. 10, 2001, Jerib A. Carson was working at the New York City Emergency Operations Center at 7 World Trade Center, helping to install a secure server for the mayor's Office of Emergency Management. The next day, 7 World Trade Center ceased to exist.

The 47-story building was the last to collapse on September 11. In the aftermath of the terrorist attack, Carson began to re-think his life.  He had attended Pratt Institute for three years, in fine arts and architecture.

Then,for 15 years, he worked in the computer industry, providing networking and integration systems for the financial and legal industries, as well as the city's department of education.

In 2006, Carson, a single father, moved back to Brooklyn, where he was born. His daughter, Sarah, then 3, began attending the Medgar Evers pre-school program - and then things clicked. "It was a combination of looking for something less stressful [as a career] and looking at my daughter and thinking, 'What could I do to create a unique relationship with her?' The answer was education."

So in spring 2006, Carson enrolled in Medgar Evers College. Three years later, at 40, he has graduated with dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in general childhood education and special education, with a specialization in science. While his daughter was attending P.S. 20, the same school he had attended, he completed his student teaching at P.S. 46, a block away.

Carson was inducted into the new Pi Eta Kappa honor society, for male students dedicated to academic excellence and community engagement; he was a recipient of the 2008 Siemens Teacher Scholarship and was selected to participate in the 2007 Thurgood Marshall College Fund Leadership Institute.

"Jerib is extraordinarily service-oriented," says Donna Akilah M. Wright, chair of Medgar Evers' education department.

Carson credits Wright and other mentors with fostering his transformation to professional educator. "As a teacher you have the responsibility to educate other people's children," he says. "They should have freedom to be children, but you have the responsibility to make sure they are literate and able to do math and science."

This fall, Carson begins working toward his Master of Arts in Teaching at Tufts University's on full scholarship. Later, he plans to return to New York to begin a doctoral degree at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he has already been accepted, in instructional technology and media.

"He's an unusually gifted individual who has the ability to pull everything together - with charisma," says Hakim J. Lucas, dean of Institutional Advancement and Development at Medgar Evers. "He's combined scholarship with 'schoolmanship' - and he's a good dad."