Teach for America Recruits SMU Students

September 17, 2009  

Teach for America representatives advocated the opportunity for college graduates to teach at low-income public schools in an effort to end educational inequality to interested students Wednesday night at Hughes-Trigg forum.

“Educational inequality is one of our nation’s greatest injuries,” said Tamara Urquhart, recruitment director for Teach for America.

The Cornell graduate gave her life over to helping kids in the name of “fairness, equality and equal opportunity for all.”

Urquhart explained the problems caused by the achievement gap between low-income and high-income communities and offered Teach for America as a solution.

Education Statistics in the United States

Over 13 million children grow up in poverty (National Center for Education Statistics)

Five percent of students in low-income communities will not graduate high school (National Center for Education Statistics)

Students in low-income communities have a higher chance of going to jail than college (Gates Foundation, 2007)

“Demographics do not have to predict academic outcomes,” Urquhart said.

Teach for America hopes to change these statistics by “enlisting our nation’s most promising future leaders,” she said.

Impact in the Classroom

Founded in 1990, the two-year program offers a full salary and benefits. Students also receive full teaching certification.

Roughly 7,300 Teach for America corps members are currently reaching over 600,000 students.

“[The United States] really isn’t educating a whole segment of our nation,” Urquhart said. Teach for America works to change that.

When Audrey Hooks, Teach for America’s managing director of recruitment, taught with the program, she witnessed students feeling discouraged about learning.

“Not only are [5th grade students] struggling, but they’re already internalizing that they are bad at something,” she said.

After working with her 5th grade class, Hooks realized “[The students] can learn and want to learn.”

And SMU students are ready to teach them.

Tired of applying for internships focused on salaries, SMU Senior Courtney Guenard looked into Teach for America. After a few months of research, she decided to apply.

“It’s a good opportunity to help people in a tangible way,” she said.

Urquhart sees many benefits of the program, as well.

“The network you build through Teach for America is amazing,” she said.

“It is the hardest thing you could ever do,” Urquhart said, “but gives you the ability to make an impact in the long run.”

How to Become Involved

Applications are accepted throughout the year. The next application deadline is Friday, September 18 at midnight. Students also must submit a resume and letter of intent.

Teach for America is open to all majors.

For more information please visit the Teach for America website at www.teachforamerica.org.

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