Teach for America

For the past few months I’ve been applying for jobs, with little success. I want to stay in the Berkeley Springs area through the summer so I can be close to family, but given the state of the economy and the small size of the town to begin with, there aren’t a lot of openings around here and the jobs I’ve seen aren’t really my cup of tea. I’ve applied for them anyway, and I’ve had a handful of interviews (2 no shows and 2 people are still thinking it over), but nothing that’s crossed my path has really jumped out at me, with the exception of Teach for America. THAT is where I’m meant to be. TFA is calling to me and I feel absolutely convinced that this is the path my life should take next.

I applied to TFA during my senior year of college and was accepted, with the assignment of teaching high school Chemistry in the Mississippi Delta. I was also accepted to a number of graduate programs and had to choose between the two. At the time this was the most difficult decision I had ever had to make (Ironically, leaving my PhD program after my Masters has taken the title since). I knew I wanted to help children, I stood behind the viewpoint of TFA that the inequality in education in America is unjust but fixable, but I was also afraid that if I turned down fully funded grad programs I might miss out on that opportunity. I was also a bit intimidated, at the age of 22, by the idea of teaching chemistry (a class I’d taken way back when I was a sophomore in HS) to people who didn’t seem that much younger than me. Maybe if I’d been assigned elementary school I would have made a different choice- who knows.  In the back of my mind I always thought I could come back to Teach for America, even though I doubted I ever would after I’d obtained a PhD. Now I find myself in the perfect position to serve their mission. I believe, more than ever, that ALL children deserve the highest quality education this country can provide them, and now I understand that there is a system of researchers and policy makers in place that is ready to make changes, once they figure out exactly what these necessary changes are. The wheels are turning, but it seems like such a slow process of theoretical research, intervention development, recruitment, random assignment, implementation, checks of reliability and validity, data analysis, paper writing, symposiums, poster presentations, publication, and finally policy change and widespread intervention. I can’t wait that long! I want to be the one in the classroom! I want to lead the children, motivate them, explain concepts, see the light bulbs come on, and see the meaningful change in real people (the children and myself!) over the course of the school year.

In less than 2 weeks I have a final interview with TFA. I’ve never prepared so much for an interview. I’ve read every single word on their website (twice!) and watched every single video. I’ve even researched potential interview questions and considered my response. I have a list of questions for them, my suit is pressed, my paperwork is sitting neatly in a folder, and TomTom has the route all planned.  I’m currently agonizing over which topic to cover with my 5-minute lesson. Will it be the probability lesson using M&Ms? Learning how to find a coordinate on a graph? Or Pythagorean Theorem? For some reason I really want to use M&Ms, but maybe I’m just craving chocolate right now. Hmmm….chocolate….

Photo of the day.. How about a pic of the kiddos that reminded me that I love working with kids!

Elspeth, Ashling and Kaitlyn (Emma must have been off jumping on the trampoline!)

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