By Angela Davis
A BYU alumnus joined top national recruits to teach for two years at an under-resourced junior high school in Oakland, Calif.
“At every Ivy League school, people know what Teach For America is,” said Katie Warner, BYU economics graduate and Teach For America alumnus. “It is very well respected.”
Wendy Kopp started Teach For America in 1989 at Princeton University. She realized a need for motivated teachers in low-income areas where kids do not receive adequate education.
She developed the idea for a program where graduating seniors could dedicate two years to teaching grade school kids at these schools.
Since 1989, 8,000 college graduates have taught nearly a million kids in low-income areas.
“We are looking for outstanding college students to teach at schools,” said Allie Rogovin, Deputy Director of Recruitment and Selection at Teach For America. “We”ve been really successful in identifying these people.”
Six BYU alumni have taught for Teach For America.
The National Recruitment Associate at Teach For America, Kat Campbell, said they have not recruited much at BYU because its location is far from their headquarters in New York. This is the first year they are actively recruiting BYU students.
“We think there are so many BYU students with great potential to teach,” Campbell said.
Warner heard about Teach For America through a friend who was rejected after going through the interview process.
“She”s a very smart girl,” Warner said. “I was intrigued. Why is it so hard to get in?”
Campbell said they accept anyone with an undergraduate degree who meets the application requirements. Teach For America teachers, or Corps member, must have a 2.5 GPA, leadership experience, critical thinking skills and ambition.
“Teach For America recruits achievement-oriented students who want to make an immediate impact on the lives of children in low-income areas and position themselves for future success,” Campbell said. “I hope that this opportunity will interest many BYU students and inspire them to apply to Teach For America this year and in the future.”
Rogovin said alumni are prepared to enter their careers with skills acquired such as strategic planning, communication and the management of students and parents.
“Those who come out of Teach For America went through a rigorous screening process,” Rogovin said.
Teach For America is recruiting at BYU through the Golden Key National Honor Society chapter at BYU.
Out of last year”s 5,000 applicants, 1,000 corps members taught in 16 urban and rural areas.
“We”re looking to double the program by 2004,” Rogovin said.
Wilson taught in Oakland, Calif., from 1999 to 2000. They started her as a kindergarten teacher, but changed her the day before school started to teach history and English to seventh graders.
“I didn”t have history textbooks for me or the students,” Wilson said. “I had no resources, and they left it up to me to teach them.”
She bought a classroom map the size of a wall, for the kids to study. Wilson said they would come in during lunch and before and after school to play the map game.
“You are changing lives on a daily basis,” Wilson said. “These kids don”t have anyone they can respect or look up to. Every day they want to be your friend and be loved.”
Warner will speak at the meetings on Feb. 12 in 3710 HBLL from 8-9 p.m. and on Feb. 15 in the WSC from 1-2 p.m.