West Side teacher a top finalist in Box Tops for Education conte - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

West Side teacher a top finalist in Box Tops for Education contest

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

You can help some West Side students get a $10,000 windfall for their school, without spending anything, except a couple minutes on line.

Timeica Bethel is a bright young educator who took her life from the Chicago Housing Authority to the Ivy League and Back.

SEE: Yale graduate returns to Chicago to teach in her childhood neighborhood

Now, she is in her second year of teaching, but it wasn't an easy journey. Her first lessons came from a pretty rough area of the city: the Le Clare Court homes on South Cicero at the site of the now demolished housing project.

"I think my background plays a huge role in the expectations I have for my kids," Bethel says. "I want them all to be ready to go to schools like Francis Parker where I went to high school. I want them ready to be at Yale in a few years, like I went to Yale, so I push them a lot to be up to those standards.

She talked with Fox 32 News last year about her training with Teach for America and her vision of giving back.

"I think any kid can be pushed to achieve their highest potential, you just have to believe in them and get them to believe in themselves," says Bethel.

A teacher at her neighborhood school believed that Timeica, after 8th grade, should set her academic sights higher. She won the scholarship to Francis Parker, a prestigious private school way across town. Another teacher there believed she should apply to Yale and she earned another full scholarship.

Now, Bethel's Teach for America assignment is at the Romano Butler campus of Learn Charter Schools on Chicago's West Side, where every single student qualifies for free or reduced price lunch. It's a similar circumstance to where Bethel grew up, where teachers made a difference in where she ended up.

After a full day in the classroom with first and second graders, Bethel goes to the gym to lead some older girls as they prepare for a pageant. In her spare time away from this campus, she mentors a group of young ladies in high school and college.

It's no wonder someone nominated her for a nationwide competition which searches for top educators under the age of 35 to earn $10,000 for their school.

"I put up my video and they chose me as one of the five finalists [out of the entire nation]," Bethel explains.

Her video includes the challenges she had to overcome. Some of which are very personal.

"I was raised by my grandmother. When I was a child my mom my mom was addicted to alcohol and cocaine and so she was not able to take care of me and my three siblings, so my grandmother took us in, she legally adopted us and took care of us for 12 years until my mom was able to re-enter my life," Bethel explains.

As she shared with us last year, her mother has gotten herself together and is proud of her daughter's success, inspiring other youngsters to overcome adversity.

Timeica Bethel also passes on the lesson that it's okay to ask for a little help.

"I would urge everyone to go to BET.com/10under35 and vote for my video, as a finalist. I really want to get this $10,000 for my school. I know I can do amazing things for my scholars, and we just need your help."

The $10,000 prize is actually 100,000 cereal box tops which most schools collect. While it varies, on average, a medium-sized school might collect 3,000-5,000 box tops a year.

The principal gets to decide what to spend the money on, but it is always something that will benefit the entire school.

The deadline to vote is Friday, November 30th. Click here to vote for Timeica Bethel as your favorite Box Tops for Education Hero.

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