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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.

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