When you ask Kwame Sarfo-Mensah what makes a great teacher, he has a one-word answer: empathy. He will eagerly expand on that, but his main point is this: Taking the time to understand a student's situation beyond their academics can go a long way to helping them learn in the classroom.

An educator for 14 years, Sarfo-Mensah spent the last five teaching 7th and 8th grade math for the Boston Public School system (though he is taking a break this year, living in Ethiopia with his family). Throughout his career, he has worked to be a role model for minority students, encouraging them to dream big.

His position has also allowed him to witness the inequities facing teachers and students of color, the latter of which are often punished more harshly than their white counterparts. These experiences, in part, prompted Sarfo-Mensah to write a book, "Shaping The Teacher Identity," which was published in 2018, and launch a consulting company designed to help teachers support their most vulnerable pupils and confront the systematic problems facing the urban education system, as he puts it. This is the (short) story of his journey.