Tufts grads consider Teach for America
Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 18, 2012 08:10
Tufts was a top contributor to Teach for America (TFA) for the third consecutive year this year, with 21 members of the Class of 2012 currently serving in the corps, according to Regional Communications Manager at TFA Gaby Barahona.
Tufts was this year ranked 20th in the number of graduates to participate in TFA in the medium−sized schools category. Nine percent of seniors from the Class of 2012 applied to participate in the program.
TFA is a national organization dedicated to bridging the achievement gap in elementary and middle school education by selecting recent college graduates to teach in impoverished areas. Barahona said that 196 Tufts graduates have participated in TFA since the program’s start.
Joni Roberson, a recruitment manager for TFA, cited the diversity and leadership of the student body as reasons for Tufts’ high involvement in TFA.
“In Teach for America, we’re really looking for students with strong academic achievement, significant leadership experiences and a fit that is aligned to our mission,” Roberson said. “I think that Tufts students oftentimes demonstrate those three characteristics very strongly.”
Sade Porter, a senior, said she is applying to TFA this year because of her experience being taught by TFA corps members while in middle school in the South Bronx.
“I can attest and confirm that Teach for America actually meets its mission statement,” she said. “I had to give back because I am a product of what TFA has done.”
Porter said she is the final stage of a multi−tiered application process that includes an application, online activities and interviews. Although current applicants will be notified by Nov. 1 if they have been accepted, another wave of applicants can still apply at the Nov. 2 deadline, according to Roberson.
“The process is very individualized,” she said. “I work very closely with all of the students so that they feel very comfortable and confident about the application process and also that they are on the right timeline for them based on their long−term goals.”
Although TFA is popular among education majors, students from a variety of academic disciplines apply every year, Roberson said.
“We accept students from all academic majors, and no teaching or tutoring experience is required,” she said. “We are looking for passionate and dedicated leaders who believe that all children should have the opportunity to have an excellent education and that their ZIP code should not determine their future.”
Once the application process is complete and students have been accepted into TFA, they have two weeks to decide whether they will accept the job offer and make a two−year commitment to the program, Roberson added.
However, prior to entering the classroom as full−fledged teachers, TFA corps members go through intensive summer training programs designed to get them acclimated to managing a classroom and teaching lessons, according to Roberson.
Seth Rau (LA ’12), who completed the TFA training process this past summer, is a current corps member teaching fifth grade at the Imagine 100 Academy of Excellence in Las Vegas.
“After you are accepted to Teach for America, you go to your placement city for a week for an introduction,” he said. “You then go to an institute for five weeks ... The first week is intense lesson planning and classroom management, [and for] the next four weeks, you are a team teaching with three others and a certified teacher.”
According to data in a Sept. 5 press release, TFA currently has over 10,000 corps members teaching in high−need areas across the country.
TFA is not limited to a specific number of participants, and the organization has the ability to hire as many students as they feel fit their mission, Roberson said.
“One thing that is important about our process is that it is selective, not competitive,” she said. “We are looking for everyone who is ready, willing and able to take on this challenge, and what’s great about that is that you are never in competition with anyone for a position. So we have the capacity to double our numbers from last year if we find the candidates.”