The beginning of this school year brought Teach for America (TFA) locations to two different regions in Ohio. Even students who are not education majors can get involved in Teach for America (TFA), a non-profit group that places graduates in a high-risk school for two years.
TFA previously did not have any locations in Ohio because of a state law that made it difficult for members to earn their full teaching licenses, according to Benjamin Lindy, Executive Director for TFA in Southwest Ohio. However, after a new Ohio House bill was passed last year, TFA corps members can now earn their full teaching license in Ohio.
This law led TFA to set up two new regions in Ohio. Northeast Ohio, which includes Cleveland, and Southwest Ohio, which includes Dayton, Cincinnati, and Northern Kentucky, according to Lindy.
Lindy said that TFA looks for four characteristics when choosing a new location for its members.
“We look for presence of an achievement gap, a way for our corps members to earn a full teaching license…We build partnerships with schools who are willing to interview TFA candidates, and we do fundraising work to sustain our operations in a new area,” Lindy said.
Lindy said TFA was glad to be able to expand to new regions and serve more students.
“We are excited to be in Ohio, and excited to be working alongside allies who feel just as strongly as us that closing the education gap is the social justice issue of our generation,” said Lindy.
“There is something powerful about people from Ohio working in Ohio,” Lindy added.
Nick Hunt, a 2012 Miami graduate and TFA Corps member, is currently teaching preschool in San Jose, California.
Hunt said that when he first applied to the program, he didn’t expect to be teaching such a young age group.
“I was drawn to the program with the idea of being in high school education…but we can change the lives of our students from such a young age, by teaching them reading and writing and loving school,” Hunt said.
Although Hunt was a double major in English and psychology, he plans to stay in education after his 2-year commitment.
“I’m realizing how much I care about this work,” Hunt said.
TFA has a program at Miami that is also connected to Miami University Leaders for Educational Equality (MULEE).
“It’s an organization that gets students involved with Teach for America but also social justice issues,” junior Mariah Green, a campus campaign coordinator for the program, said.
The core values of the organization are activism, civic engagement and leadership, according to Green.
“College students don’t have time to pay attention to the news…we’re stuck in this bubble,” Green said. “We use this [group] as a nexus between organizations for more diversity but also unity.”
Green said that the TFA program at Miami and other locations welcomes students with different backgrounds and majors.
“You don’t have to be an education major…maybe you’re a chemistry major who had a terrible teacher in high school, and you want to get involved to make sure that doesn’t happen to other people,” Green said. “Other majors can also have the same conviction [to teach].”
Green said the TFA and MULEE programs at Miami help prepare students for the importance of their future teaching jobs.
“It’s a very rigorous program…you’re going to be working with kids and changing, or at least impacting, people’s lives…it’s a serious program,” Green said.
TFA’s main mission involves taking college graduates of all majors and giving them opportunities for work in low-income, high-risk schools around the country, according to MaryCatherine Wright, a local recruitment manager for TFA.
TFA stresses the need for students from all disciplines, Wright said.
“Some go on to law school, medical school, some go into the private sector,” Wright said. “Sixty percent of people end up staying in education, but it allows us to have a large impact in a variety of sectors.”
Miami students, like Nick Hunt and those involved with MULEE, are becoming increasingly involved with the program.
“Right now, there are 40 Miami grads teaching throughout the country,” said Wright.