Teach for America coming to Black Belt

Published 1:49 am Friday, February 19, 2010

Teach for America, a national organization dedicated to improving education by supplying top college graduates in some of the country’s highest-need schools, announced the program will expand to Alabama, placing a portion of the 30 teachers for the state in public schools in Selma and in Hale, Lowndes, Marengo, Perry, and Sumter counties.

Alabama will receive 90 teachers for the state through the course of the next three years.

“We’re looking for a region for where leaders have a vision to see how Teach for America will close the education gap,” said Kerci Marcello Stroud, national communications director for Teach For America.

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The organization added Alabama as one of its newest sites because of the state’s vision of closing the student achievement gap and the support from school district leaders and the community. Rhode Island and San Antonio will also add to the Teach for American list of locations for this coming fall.

“I know when Teach for America corps members arrive they’ll have a great chance to make an impact,” said J. W. Carpenter, executive director of Teach for America-Alabama. Carpenter served as a corps member, teaching high school mathematics in Marion, Ark.

“Providing every Alabama student with an excellent education is essential to ensuring their success and our state’s future prosperity,” said Selma City Schools Superintendent Dr. Austin Obasohan. “Teach For America will help us put more outstanding teachers at the heads of Selma’s classrooms. I look forward to seeing the contributions these dedicated young people will make in our schools and in our communities.”

Application deadline for prospective teachers has now passed, and by May Teach for America will have a definite number of teachers for the Selma and Dallas county area. Teachers will begin training in April, visit Selma in June, attend a 5-week training in June and July, and report back to Selma in time to start the 2010-2011 school year.

Participants, generally college seniors, commit to two years of teaching in under-resourced schools. About two-thirds of program alumni choose to continue a profession in education, despite that most applicants are not education majors. Teach for America currently has more than 7300 first and second year teachers.

“I am proud to welcome one of the great success stories in public education—the Teach For America program—to the Black Belt,” said Rep. Artur Davis. “The young professionals who participate in Teach For America will have their eyes opened about the Black Belt, and they will see that the desire to excel and advance is just as familiar in Demopolis, Marion, and Livingston as it is in any other corner of our state.”