Teach for America Member and APS Alum Offers a Helping ‘Hand’ to APS Students

Video Source: Teach For America, YouTube

Pierce Hand, a teacher at Mays High School, was recently featured in a video produced by Teach For America. The product of Booker T. Washington High School, Hand faced many obstacles and setbacks, but through the encouragement and guidance of his teachers, he was determined to persevere.

All of his brothers and sisters didn’t finish high school.

His mother ended up getting her GED, but she didn’t finish high school.

So a college education was a major goal for Pierce Hand after graduating from Washington High.

“Graduating from college was like a dream,” he explains.

Pierce Hand describes himself as a driven high school student, but he credits his teachers for that. The push from his teachers, the late nights assisting Hand with his application to Emory University and more, helped to shape the future for this former APS student. One of the teachers who had a major impact on Hand’s education was Joshua Guerreri, who served as a Teacher For America history teacher at Booker T. Washington High School at the time.

“I don’t think I knew what rigor was until I got into that AP U.S. History class,” says Hand.

Pierce Hand went on to study at Emory University. And now, as a 2011 Teach for America Corps Member in the Metro Atlanta Region, Hand is determined to have a similar impact on his students at Mays High School.

“We have kids in the classroom who don’t really understand and he helps them through everything,” says Julius Whitehead, a student at Mays High School. “He’s just a cool teacher. He can relate to us, and he came up from this side of town, so it’s not like he hasn’t been through what we are going through.”

Hand says when he had the opportunity to become a Teach for America Corps Member, he felt indebted to help the community that gave so much to him. In doing so, he works each and every day to not only provide a first class education to his students, but to also expose them to opportunities outside of the classroom. Exposure to different environments and field trips to Georgia Tech and Morehouse are just some of the ways in which he hopes to have a lasting impact on his students.

“Just like Mr. Guerreri feels very happy and proud that I was able to graduate from college and come back and work for my community, I’m going to be very overjoyed when I know my students go out into the world and do amazing things and come back and help their community too.”

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