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Three students making a difference
More than 16 million U.S. children grow up in poverty. One in three of those children won’t graduate high school, and of those who do, only 18% will enter a four-year college. Only 9% will attain a bachelor’s degree by the age of 25.
In order to facilitate more educational equity, Teach for America (TFA) enlists and develops the nation's most promising young professionals to teach in impoverished communities for two years. The recruitment process is extremely competitive, but this year, three HDFS 494 students—Tanis Klingler, Jordyn Fishman, and Erin Tompkins—were selected to serve.
Each of the students has a unique reason for entering the program. For Jordyn Fishman, service is a driving force behind her desire to teach. “I have a passion for working with younger kids and their families as well as being a part of the non-profit world,” says Fishman. “This is something that will tie in all my interests of working with kids, their families, and these communities that really need the help.”
Tanis Klingler chose this path because of her love of physics and desire for a challenging experience. As for Erin Tompkins, TFA’s call for educational equality is an inspiration. “Every child deserves a quality education, so I applied to TFA to work toward this,” she says. And Fishman adds, “We have such impoverished communities and kids across this country who don’t have access to the resources that I’ve been so lucky to have throughout my entire life.”
Before entering the classroom, new TFA corps members are trained for several weeks in effective teaching practices. By learning to develop strong partnerships with their students, students’ families, and communities, corps members can dramatically increase the opportunities available to their students in school and in life. For instance, many students lose interest in science during high school, so Tompkins hopes to make her class highly engaging so they’ll appreciate the subject more: “Many students overlook the variety of careers in the STEM fields, so I hope to encourage them to consider working in these fields.”
TFA members don’t just teach their students; they learn from them and the overall experience. At the end of two years, they’ll use those lessons as they choose their path forward. Says Klingler, “It’ll drastically change what I know about myself and what I know about the world. And that’s what really attracted me to it in general. It’s really going to push the boundaries of my own limits and develop new skill sets.”
Needless to say, the soon-to-be teachers are counting down the days until the new school year. “I’m so excited to start my new adventure and meet new people,” says Fishman. Each student is looking forward to connecting with students, families, and communities, and in the process, engaging in a life-changing experience over the next two years.