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Teach for America coming here

Teach for America will soon add Selma to its list of teaching sites, bringing 30 teachers to the Selma City Schools and surrounding counties for the 2010-2011 school year.

Each year the organization adds about three to five new sites.

“It made absolute sense for us to consider the Blackbelt region,” said Ifeyinawa Offor, vice president of new site development.

Applicants sometimes prefer to teach close to their hometowns, and until now, no schools in Perry, Marengo, Hale, Lowndes, Sumter counties or Selma City Schools have had Teach for America partnerships.

Soon all these will be a part of the program. “This year already we’ve had 10 members to join our program who are from Alabama,” Ms. Offor said. “When we come, they’ll have the opportunity to stay in Alabama.”

To be considered to be on the list of sites, the location must fit three criterion. They must show a need of an achievement gap; feasibility, meaning the school district decides to partner with the program; and have enough funding to open the site and finance recruiting, selecting, training and the ongoing support of the program.

Teachers serve a two-year commitment and are provided with a coaching person to assist and help evaluate teaching methods to create a better classroom environment.

Teach for America has found that its teachers have a 94 percent positive approval from principal.

“Our teachers are having a positive effect on students,” said Kerci Marcello Stroud, national communications director.

Teach for America serves 35 regions with 7300 teachers. Last year there were 35,000 applications, and the projection number of applications for this year will be almost 50,000 applicants.

“It’s just really exciting to see how many young people are interested in giving back, especially though Teach for America,” Ms. Stroud said.