Urban Living for an Urban Teacher

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Urban Living for an Urban TeacherMy Dallas Story

Name: Terrence Smith

City: Arlington

Company/Title: Urban Teachers, Resident Teacher

When did you move here? From where?
August 2016, from Orlando, Florida.

Where else have you lived?
Tallahassee, Florida

What made you decide to Say Yes to Dallas?
I once read that Dallas is the place to be for up-and-coming young professionals — particularly African-American men. I wanted something different from Florida; Tallahassee was a small city and Orlando was very touristy. Even though I lived there for six years, I never felt at home. When I moved to Dallas, I felt like I belonged. I was home.

How did you choose where to live in the Dallas Region?
I chose Arlington for the cost of living. I’m serving as a resident teacher at Urban Teachers and living on a stipend until I start as a new teacher in my second year. Arlington is a very beautiful town and is easily accessible to much around the region. Even though don’t live in Downtown Dallas, I can still get to any events in the area. The heart of Dallas is everywhere you go.

What is the one thing you could have done to make your move easier?
Save money for the move. Research where you’ll be working and think about where you’ll live – there are so many options!

How has your opinion of the Dallas Region changed since moving here?
I was not expecting Dallas natives to be as friendly as they are. In our teaching cohort, there is only one native Dallas resident. The first thing he did was show us all around. Dallas natives are always trying to introduce me to something new.

Tell us about your city/neighborhood. What do you like best? What makes it different?
Arlington gives you the southern feeling that people hear about in Texas. There are so many parks in the area, and the opportunities to enjoy nature are endless.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to move here?
Don’t be afraid to become a part of the community. There’s something for everyone here, you just have to be open and willing. Dive into the community and become a part of it — don’t let it live around you.

What is your passion, and how does Dallas help fulfill it?
Students, of course! In Dallas, there is a school on every block and education is a huge focus. The Dallas Region makes sure schools are accessible to every community. The communities are also very intentional about how they support students in school and out.

What would you miss most about the area if you had to leave?
I’d miss the many opportunities I have here. I’ve gotten to know the organization United Black Ellument (U-BE). It helps people of color who are same-gender-loving or same-gender-loving allies. It’s a very inclusive and open community which has been great.

Tell us about the work environment here.
I work at Uplift Infinity in Irving. I taught 4th grade as a resident teacher and will be a first-year teacher at the same school for 5th grade. With my experience at City Year in Orlando, I was a support to the classroom. As a resident teacher in Dallas, I felt immediately a part of the team as soon as I entered the school. I’m excited to continue my career there.

Where do you go and what do you do on the weekends or days off?
There are five parks within five miles of where I live. There are always opportunities for concerts, and they are always affordable. I don’t have to break the bank to enjoy myself!

What is your favorite restaurant?
Razoo’s in Arlington. It’s Cajun cuisine. If you like spice, this is the place.

Where do you go to experience culture? Why do you like it?
I experience culture at the South Dallas Cultural Center. It’s a community theater. They opened their doors to watch and present plays. It’s great seeing original plays by Dallas natives.

Who is your local hero? Why?
Emily Nolen, Urban Teachers Executive Director. She took a chance on Urban Teachers and is helping its success by trusting and helping incoming residents to become effective teachers for the students in the Dallas Region.

How do you interact with your community?
I make it my business to attend every sporting event involving my students. I interact with my community by exploring. If I have free time, I’m trying to find something new and talking to people — people here are so welcoming.

Anything else you’d like to tell us?
I love how much pride there is in Texas. I have never lived anywhere where people are so happy to be where they are. I love how Dallas has unique experiences such as the local theatres, great restaurants, Uplift Education, and much more!

Photo Credit: Chase Mardis