Three members of the Classes of 2009 have been selected for positions with Teach for America. Each year, Teach for America selects college graduates with promising leadership skills and a passion for helping others to serve two-year terms in urban and rural public schools. The organization’s goal is to rid the nation of educational inequality, so that all children have equal opportunities to receive an excellent education.
Shavonne Ward, Brendan Csaposs and Deja James have all demonstrated leadership skills during their time at the Colleges and will soon be taking those skills to the Mississippi Delta (comprising Arkansas and Mississippi); Baton Rouge, La., and the Philadelphia, Pa., regions, respectively.
Ward, who holds a degree in psychology with minors in child advocacy and peer education in human relations, was taught by Teach for America corps members when she was in middle school. She was inspired by their enthusiasm and their commitment to making sure that she and her classmates received the best possible education.
“They opened my mind to see a world that was far bigger than the South Bronx,” she says. “I feel this is my way of giving back.”
What appeals to her most about Teach for America is the fact that it brings educational opportunities to children regardless of their geographical locations and socioeconomic status; rather than expecting children to leave their environments in order to receive a good education, they bring assistance to them.
“I have the opportunity to grapple with obstacles of the child who can’t read and the parent who works two jobs to provide for his or her family. I am ready to delve into the trenches and make use of my educational privilege. I would like to provide my students with the power to believe in themselves,” says Ward.
Csaposs will arrive in Baton Rouge in August, working as a Special Education English teacher in a middle school. He holds a degree in music and lesbian, gay and bisexual studies and minored in peer education in human relations.
Teach for America enables him to spend his time between college and graduate school doing something public service-oriented. He feels strongly that there is a huge education gap in our nation and that this gap is too often overlooked. Having had the benefit of coming from two college-educated parents who could afford to make choices in his schooling, he is glad that he has “found a way that I could reach across [the gap] and help children get the educational experience that they both need and deserve.”
With a degree in social justice and education, James is dedicated to making sure that children in under-served communities receive a quality education. She refers to HWS as “an open-minded institution with a conscience,” that has prepared her well for her future endeavors. She credits the small, discussion based classes with her ability to get as much as possible out of her education. Now, she is prepared to apply everything that she has learned to help high school students in the Philadelphia region.
After their two years with Teach for America end, Ward hopes to do something pertaining to administration in higher education, but says she may end up realizing that teaching is her calling; Csaposs hopes to attend graduate school to earn a joint or dual degree in law and public administration. James will attend graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania to earn her master’s in education.