In popular culture, American teachers are sometimes idealized as the visionaries portrayed in films, quickly able to turn around the lives of troubled young people with their classroom leadership.
In other depictions, teachers are vilified as the sole scapegoats for failing schools or low test scores.
To combat these polarizing images, Gapers Block launched the "Classroom Mechanics" series to share oral histories of everyday Chicago teachers.
Lindsey Rohwer, a 26-year-old Spanish teacher, first arrived at a South Side Chicago high school as an enthusiastic Teach For America recruit. Four years later, her enthusiasm hasn't waned; Rohwer decided to stay on after her two-year Teach For America commitment ended.
For Mark, another young Chicago teacher, maintaining a stable classroom in a neighborhood neighborhood riddled with violence can be a challenge, but one he hopes to rise to. He believes that improvement in the education system can only start at a local level.
So far, Gapers Block has only featured two teachers, but plans to continue to roll out oral histories throughout the winter.
Although the project has a self-professed mission of exploring a diverse range of teachers, their first profiles center on young, white teachers reaching out to minority students in difficult urban schools.
To include a broader range of voices in the oral history project, local teachers can volunteer to share their experiences.
Chicago-based educators can submit their stories to the Gapers Block team.
Teachers in other communities can share their stories with StoryCorps, an organization that captures oral histories across America.