September 23, 2015
By Emily Hooper
DALLAS (SMU) – SMU has been named a top contributor to Teach For America for the third year, with 17 of the University’s graduates working in high-need classrooms across the country.
Teachers Cheyenne Rogers ’09, ’15 (right) and Allie Showalter ’09 brought their seventh-grade classes from Dallas’ W. E. Greiner Middle School to SMU for a taste of the SMU student experience. More.
SMU alumni who joined the Teach For America corps this year are Sana Ibrahim ’07, Victoria McKay ‘15, Caitlin Bailey ‘14, Angela Martinez ‘12, Kat Kappos ‘15, Crystal Chen ‘15, Christine Medrano ‘14, Joseph Gaasbeck ‘12, Stephanie Newland ‘15, Katelyn Hall ‘15, Pablo Lara ‘15, Meaghan Barclay ‘15, Lucy Yu ‘15, Michael Lee ‘15, Alaina Leggette ‘15, Devon Wall ‘15, and Gabriella Padgett ‘15.
Teach For America’s 2015 list of colleges and universities contributing the greatest number of alumni to its teaching corps include graduating seniors from a range of backgrounds and experiences and a growing number of individuals with professional experience. Totals for each college and university include both 2015 graduates and alumni of previous classes who are transitioning to teaching from another field or joining the corps as experienced educators.
“I was very lucky to grow up in the Dallas region with great teachers, but I have noticed that not everyone has had that same privilege and I don't think that's fair,” said Pablo Lara, a 2015 corps member and SMU alumnus who will be teaching at Edward Titche Elementary School in Dallas ISD. “Through Teach For America, I have an amazing opportunity to give back to the community that has given me so much. By teaching in my hometown I hope to inspire other great leaders to help our city reach its full potential (and) that starts with education.”
In order to attract the strongest students to teaching and provide them with rigorous training, Teach For America partnered with SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development in 2015 to launch the Teach For America DFW Summer Institute. In collaboration with faculty from SMU Simmons, the institute was designed to instill a commitment in the promising leaders to improve student academic achievement in high-need school in low-income communities. After completing the Teach For America DFW Summer Institute, TFA-DFW corps members are scheduled for two years of ongoing professional preparation and coaching from TFA staff in their classroom in addition to Simmons faculty who will support them in the field and through coursework.
“Working with SMU and Momentous Institute has allowed us to tailor our pre-service teacher training and ongoing support to the schools and students in the Metroplex,” said Alex Hales, executive director of Teach For America in Dallas-Fort Worth. “Our teachers benefit from the expertise of SMU faculty, the extensive resources of the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, and Momentous Institute’s leadership in social emotional health and classroom culture building.”
View the full list of top university and college contributors to the program aimed at expanding education opportunities for impoverished children.
The 2015 group is among the most diverse in the organization’s history, with nearly half of incoming corps members identifying as people of color, compared with less than 20 percent of teachers nationwide; 47 percent come from low-income backgrounds; 34 percent are the first in their family to graduate from college; one-third applied as professionals or graduate students; more than 20 percent have backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, or math; and almost 20 percent will be teaching in the region they call home. More than 50 individuals have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, and 75 are veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces or spouses of active or veteran members of the military.
“We’re thrilled to welcome great leaders this year from such strong colleges and universities,” says Elisa Villanueva Beard, CEO of Teach For America. “For 25 years, we’ve been recruiting, developing, and supporting some of our nation’s most talented young leaders as they fight to end educational inequity. We’re grateful for the diverse and accomplished young people we’ve been connected to through our top contributing universities, and look forward to enlisting more of them in this work in the years to come.”
This fall, 8,800 corps members are teaching in high-need classrooms across 52 regions. The 4,100 incoming corps members represent more than 830 colleges and universities and 36 states and the District of Columbia. Two-thirds of Teach For America’s 2015 corps members are graduating seniors from the class of 2015 and one-third are individuals with professional experience. In addition to the corps, Teach For America’s network of more than 42,000 alumni continue to work toward ensuring that all children have access to an excellent education.
About Teach For America
Teach For America works in partnership with communities to expand educational opportunity for children facing the challenges of poverty. Founded in 1990, Teach For America recruits and develops a diverse corps of outstanding college graduates and professionals to make an initial two-year commitment to teach in high-need schools and become lifelong leaders in the effort to end educational inequity. Today, 8,800 corps members are teaching in 52 urban and rural regions across the country while more than 42,000 alumni work across sectors to ensure that all children have access to an excellent education. Teach For America is a proud member of the AmeriCorps national service network. For more information, visit www.teachforamerica.org.