Teach for America corp visits UA in search of recruits

By Kerri Ginis

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Graduates who are uncertain about their plans for the future can consider applying for the Teach for America program.

"This program is an incredible challenge that allows college graduates to use skills they have learned to benefit students who are in under-resourced districts and communities," said Peter Sickler, a corp member serving in a Phoenix school district.

Teach for America is a national teacher corp that places college graduates into rural and urban public schools for two years, he said.

Sickler said the program wants to bring in graduates of varied majors into the classroom.

"School districts are not taking on certified personnel, but instead taking on individuals who are excited to be in the classroom," he said.

About 18,000 graduates have applied to the program and about 3,000 have gone through it, Sickler said.

Teach for America held an information session Tuesday to recruit UA graduates because of the need to place more bilingual teachers in the classroom and to increase the number of corp members from the UA, said Lisa Morehouse, regional director for Teach for America.

Last year, less than 20 UA graduates applied to the program and less than five got in, she said.

Math senior William Shaw said he plans to apply for the program because the only way he can teach without being certified is through a program like this.

Those interested in applying to the program must have a 2.5 minimum G.P.A. and a bachelor of arts or science degree.

The written application process is very complex and involves a letter of intent, essay, references, list of activities, and work experience, Sickler said.

Applicants must also go through an interview process that involves a five-minute sample teaching session, group discussion, and one-on-one interview, he said.

There are 13 sites throughout the United States where Teach for America corp members are placed to teach, Sickler said.

Some of the sites include Phoenix, Oakland, Houston, Washington D.C., Arkansas and Louisiana.

Sickler said applicants do have a say as to which site they work at, but flexibility is really important because assignments could change.

Jill Harrison, a 1991 corp member, was placed in a rural school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, teaching social studies to sixth and seventh graders.

Harrison said she did experience some discipline problems in the beginning, but once she was able to regain control of the class, she was able to teach.

"I had a lot of freedom in designing my own curriculum," she said.

Harrison, who is now attending the UA Law School, said that although she has left the classroom, her career goals incorporate children and public schools.

"I feel very committed to public schools," she said.

Morehouse said about 60 percent of Teach for America alumni remain in education.

"Even if alumni don't stay in the classroom, they stay committed to education and to kids," she said.

It is possible to receive certification for teaching after leaving the program, but it depends upon the requirements of the state and the district that a person teaches in, Morehouse said.

Applications will be accepted for this year's program from January to March 1996. Interviews will be held from February to April, Sickler said.

Applicants will be notified in May if they are accepted, and then will attend a five week institute in June where members will be trained before leaving for their sites, Sickler said.

For more information about the Teach for America program, call the national office at 1-800-832-1230.

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