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Grad Returns to Inner-City Roots as Role Model and Teacher

From: University Currents
Date: June 9, 2000
Story by: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photo by: Colleen Kelley
Archive: Campus News

JoAnn Forte Battle wants to devote her career to teaching young children in the inner city because she shares a common bond with many of them. "They are our future and they need good role models, and having come from the same background that a lot of these children will probably go through single parenthood and being an African American in America a lot of our children, especially in the inner city, they're faced with poverty and things like that. I've been there and I've done that and I can relate. I just want to make a difference."

image of  Forte

Forte Battle grew up in the West End and graduated from Taft High School. One of six children, she says her father left the family when she was five, and her mother struggled to raise the children alone.

"My mother kept us out of trouble and made sure that we graduated from high school, because she only reached the 10th grade. She grew up in Alabama and was the daughter of a sharecropper, and she had to drop out of school to help with the work."

Forte Battle and her siblings stayed out of trouble and she earned her high school diploma, and later raised her daughter by herself. Her daughter is now 21 but when she was small, Forte Battle's mother babysat when Forte Battle went to work. She is still grateful to her mother for her influence and her support, and says she still feels the loss after her mother passed away three years ago.

Forte Battle spent 20 years working in the banking industry before she decided she wanted to dedicate the rest of her career to teaching young children. At age 41, Forte Battle is a newlywed and is graduating with her bachelor's degree in early childhood education and her teaching certificate. She previously had earned a bachelor's degree in African American studies.

Through the Cincinnati Initiative for Teaching Education (CITE) a partnership involving the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Public Schools and the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers, Forte Battle has spent the past school year as a first grade teaching intern at Vine Elementary. CITE has been nationally recognized for its intensive preparation of future teachers. Under the guidance of her mentor teachers at Vine, Forte Battle has held all of the responsibilities of a teacher, including developing lesson plans that will hold the short attention spans of active first graders. "I can't stress enough how much my mentor teachers have helped me," says Forte Battle.

In addition to her teaching internship at Vine, Forte Battle also was taking classes at UC, earning time toward her master's degree. She hopes to get a job teaching in the Cincinnati Public Schools and plans to continue to work on her master's degree at UC.

"I guess the biggest thing this internship has shown me is that it's a bigger challenge than I thought it would be, but I'm happy to have the experience because I know it's going to make me a better teacher."

"I knew I needed a career change and this has just been excellent for me," Forte Battle continued. "I love being around children and I love helping children. I want to be able to show them that there are people who come out of poverty and have productive lives and do good things. The biggest thing, I think, is I like making a difference."

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