How a Poet Inspired 1,000 People to Become Teachers

In 2000 slam poet Taylor Mali set a goal of inspiring 1,000 people to become teachers. This month, he reached it.

New York City-based slam poet and former teacher Taylor Mali is well-known as a vocal advocate for educators. With more than 6 million YouTube views, his poem "What Teachers Make" is the ultimate comeback to people who disrespect those who dedicate their lives to students. But since Mali left the classroom to perform and lecture to a global audience 12 years ago, he's done more than lyrically defend his colleagues' hard work.

In 2000, Mali launched the New Teacher Project, an effort to use "poetry, persuasion, and perseverance" to inspire 1,000 people to become educators. Mali asked people fill out a form on his site if they became teachers after hearing him speak or perform. When he started the project, he had no idea how long it would take to reach the goal but guessed he might accomplish it by 2006. "I failed," he says.

But no longer. Twelve years after he started, Mali has reached his goal of helping push 1,000 people to become educators. To celebrate the accomplishment, Mali is throwing a party in New York City next month and releasing his new book, What Teachers Make, which he describes as "an impassioned defense of teachers and why our society needs them now more than ever." He's also produced an updated video for the poem that first put him on the map. The video recounts a teacher being put on the spot at a dinner party by a snide lawyer who asks what he's paid.

Even though I've heard Mali's poetic response countless times over the years, it still thrills me to hear him break down why what teachers "make" has nothing to do with money. And despite reaching his goal, Mali has no plans to stop encouraging people to become teachers. "It may not pay what it should," he says, "but there are other rewards; and if you think you have what it takes you should consider it."


Some beauty pageants, like the Miss America competition, have done away with the swimsuit portions of the competitions, thus dipping their toes in the 21st century. Other aspects of beauty pageants remain stuck in the 1950s, and we're not even talking about the whole "judging women mostly on their looks" thing. One beauty pageant winner was disqualified for being a mom, as if you can't be beautiful after you've had a kid. Now she's trying to get the Miss World competition to update their rules.

Veronika Didusenko won the Miss Ukraine pageant in 2018. After four days, she was disqualified because pageant officials found out she was a mom to 5-year-old son Alex, and had been married. Didusenko said she had been aware of Miss World's rule barring mother from competing, but was encouraged to compete anyways by pageant organizers.

Keep Reading Show less

One mystery in our universe is a step closer to being solved. NASA's Parker Solar Probe launched last year to help scientists understand the sun. Now, it has returned its first findings. Four papers were published in the journal Nature detailing the findings of Parker's first two flybys. It's one small step for a solar probe, one giant leap for mankind.

It is astounding that we've advanced to the point where we've managed to build a probe capable of flying within 15 million miles from the surface of the sun, but here we are. Parker can withstand temperatures of up to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit and travels at 430,000 miles per hour. It's the fastest human-made vehicle, and no other human-made object has been so close to the sun.

Keep Reading Show less
via Sportstreambest / Flickr

Since the mid '90s the phrase "God Forgives, Brothers Don't" has been part of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point's football team's lexicon.

Over the past few years, the team has taken the field flying a black skull-and-crossbones flag with an acronym for the phrase, "GFBD" on the skull's upper lip. Supporters of the team also use it on social media as #GFBD.

Keep Reading Show less