Serving in communities everywhere from the East Coast to Hawaii, eight young alums have joined Teach for America (TFA) programs this year, each embarking on his or her own personal journey of service in education. Each alum has been assigned to work in rural or urban low-income communities across the nation where they are teachers in high-needs classrooms.
Those beginning their work as TFA corps members are: Caroline Dosky ’12, MAT’13, who along with Hannah Hood ’12, MAT’13 is serving in the South Coast region of Massachusetts; William Abbott ’13, who is in Greater New Orleans; Megan Brodzik ’13, in Milwaukee; Brianne Ellis ’13, in Miami-Dade, Fla.; Jordunn Joubert ’13, in Houston, Texas; Robert Nanovsky ’13, in Delaware; and Nicolas Walker ’13, who is serving in Hawaii.
“Teach for America is a program that enables post-graduates to enter classrooms right away and start making a difference in children’s lives,” says Abbott, who is working at Dolores T. Aaron Elementary School in New Orleans East. “I’m running my own classroom and I would not have had this opportunity without Teach for America.”
Abbott’s school is part of the ReNEW Charter Management network that focuses on revitalizing and transforming underserved schools in New Orleans. Abbott says with New Orleans on the forefront of education reform in the United States he’s lucky to be in such a dynamic environment.
“There is a lot of work to be done in the classroom and I’m convinced my biggest impact as an educator on achievement and confidence in the classroom will reflect my connection to my students and their families outside the classroom,” Abbott says.
He and his fellow alums join the ranks of more than 30 HWS graduates who have served with Teach for America over the past decade.
For new corps members, joining TFA is highly selective and competitive, with a rigorous selection process that includes an extensive application, a lesson plan presentation, a personal interview, a written test and a monitored group discussion with several other applicants. Once selected, corps members participate in TFA training programs in preparation for their official assignments. Each corps member commits to living and teaching in his or her respective community for two years.
“I’ve always been impressed with how many HWS alums join Teach For America, City Year, and the Peace Corps,” says Dosky, who recently completed a five-week TFA teaching institute along with Hood and Nanovsky. “This sparked my desire to learn more about this organization and movement. Ali Rallis, the recruiter responsible for HWS, has been an amazing resource in learning more about TFA. I was also able to talk to Luke Berliner ’12, Francesca Antonucci ’10, MAT’11, and Charlotte Lysohir ’12 who were all incredibly honest about the experience. This motivated me to apply and I could not be happier with the decision I made.”
Hood says she became interested in joining TFA thanks to the HWS Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning and the range of opportunities it provides students to give back locally and beyond.
“I feel that TFA fits with my own personal values in teaching, as well as working toward improving the education of all students,” Hood says.
Like her TFA counterparts from HWS, Joubert also says she’s looking forward to helping students expand their opportunities through teaching and academic support. She says her experiences at HWS helped prepare her for life after college and envision her career path.
“HWS prepared me for my position because I have been given the skills to be an effective leader,” Joubert says. “My courses have taught me to be an active participant as well as a strong listener. HWS has also instilled in me the value of the community, and this will have a significant impact on my classroom.”
At HWS, Brodzik says she caught the “teaching bug” her senior year during her role as an economics teaching fellow. She says that as she learned more about TFA and the schools and students it serves, she knew she wanted to pursue becoming a corps member.
“I had already known that I liked teaching from my time as a teaching fellow and now I had the motivation I needed to take that interest and do something meaningful with it,” Brodzik says.
Nanovsky says that as his interest in teaching became more apparent throughout his time at the Colleges, joining TFA opened up as a great opportunity to pursue.
“I was a philosophy major at the Colleges and throughout this experience I’ve been so grateful for that training,” Nanovsky says. “The faculty at HWS really pushed my analytic and argumentative skills, two skills that form the basis of the Common Core standard in English Language Arts. I was also a rower and had a huge amount of experience in perseverance and resilience, skills that are instrumental in teaching and especially in the high need schools in which I will serve.”
As the newest TFA corps members from HWS begin their work in their respective locations, they cite the HWS community as a broader network of support in not only helping propel them to their current work, but also as they continue on their paths in teaching and leading others.
“The community at HWS follows us no matter where we go. As I continue this journey, the HWS community always offers support, advice and friendly words of wisdom,” says Ellis, who recently was featured in a hometown paper in Tulsa, Okla., for her work with TFA. “My coursework, internships, service projects and on campus jobs taught me some of the best methods for in the classroom but also extensive life skills that will help me to navigate what’s ahead.”