This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Teach For America. All opinions are 100% mine.
Some people know they want to be teachers from a young age—not me. But even though teaching wasn’t my passion, I served my first full-time job out of college as a para-educator at an elementary school in a low-income neighborhood.
Essentially, I became a multipurpose teacher’s assistant; I got to jump between classrooms every day and teach mini-lessons on reading and math. No, it wasn’t my passion—but that doesn’t mean I didn’t care. The vast majority of kids were part of the free lunch program because their families had low incomes, many did not meet the educational benchmarks for their grade levels, and some outright expressed that they didn’t believe in themselves or their potential.
It was hard to get up every morning and go to school feeling like my lessons, my treatment toward the kids, and my effort made so little impact—but there were always glimmers of hope that showed I was making a difference. When I got to see lessons “click” in a child, when I got to see them acting nicely on the playground, and when I saw them refuse to give up in the face of a tough math problem or new computer program, my job was all the more satisfying and made me fall in love with teaching. Little by little, those kids worked to surmount odds that were stacked against them.
And statistically, the odds seem unbeatable. Out of 16 million impoverished children in our country, one third of them won’t graduate high school, and a mere nine percent will earn a bachelor’s degree before age 25. What happens to the other 91 percent? What if they had more teachers to mentor them, love them, and show them how to beat those odds?
Teach For America (TFA) provides that opportunity to teach and be taught—to reinforce the belief that everyone has something valuable to share with the world. It starts by recruiting people from a variety of fields and college majors; these community leaders undergo a rigorous training process and are placed in one of 52 regions across the United States. TFA corps members make a commitment to teach for two years at their partner schools, receiving continual training and development opportunities in the field. For over 25 years, Teach For America alumni have led more than 1,000 schools and school systems. TFA teachers and alumni reach more than 5 million children each day!
Why teach with Teach For America? Two years seems like a long time, especially if you’re like me and never pictured yourself in a teaching role. But that time span allows you to get to know the kids you impact and see the positive changes that can come from your teaching. I had friends in TFA who didn’t envision themselves as teachers either—but they decided to learn more about teaching anyway because they wanted to do something important. They, like many other TFA alumni, got so much fulfillment from the program that they continue to advocate for better education and are working their way toward bigger leadership roles. TFA doesn’t just empower kids to perform better in school—it can empower you too.
Maybe you don’t see teaching as your life’s passion right now. But with Teach For America, you can still feel fulfilled knowing that you will not only teach, but learn what it takes to improve our country’s educational system. With your help, you can give kids the great schooling and opportunities they deserve—regardless of where they grew up.