By Teach For America
New class reflects nation’s diversity as many members continue national service
Teach For America announced today that its 25th teaching corps, which numbers 5,300, is comprised of the most diverse talent in the nonprofit’s history – with 50 percent of incoming teachers identifying as people of color, one-third being the first in their families to attend college, and 33 percent having graduate school or professional experience. Another boon of this year’s Teach For America cohort: A significant number are entering schools with prior AmeriCorps experience.
More than 380 individuals previously volunteered or served through Habitat For Humanity, and more than 170 participated in Girl Scouts. One hundred served with City Year, and 80 volunteered in pre-K classrooms with Jumpstart. An additional 140 have participated in other AmeriCorps organizations.
AmeriCorps alumni who choose to continue their careers in service through other AmeriCorps organizations exemplify the spirit of service which is helping to uplift communities and build better futures for our nation’s students. Hear from a few of them below about why they choose to serve as teachers.
Jane Vicens (DC Corps ’14)
“I hope to be able to bring the love and hardworking Miami spirit to our nation’s capital.”
When Jane moved to Miami from Cuba at the age of 4, she started school as an English language learner. Although she mastered the language, she got to college and realized she wasn’t as prepared for the work as some of her peers. She joined the City Year corps in Miami after graduation to help other students struggling with the language in her hometown.
Through City Year, Jane helped kids like Lisbeth – a student originally from Mexico who didn’t feel like she had a place in Miami – bond with her classmates and make friends in the States. Jane is now moving to our nation’s capital to join the Teach For America-D.C. Region corps, where she’ll teach bilingual education to fourth graders and pursue a master’s degree. Jane hopes to help shape the English language learner curriculum to ensure ELL students are just as prepared for college as their native English-speaking peers.
Alexis Clark (Miami Corps ’14)
“My belief is that all kids have potential. All kids can learn.”
Alexis began her career in service while still an undergrad at Spelman College. Through the AmeriCorps program Jumpstart, she worked with preschoolers to build the language, literacy, and socio-emotional skills essential for navigating their world as they grow. Alexis’s students learned how to spell their names and memorize their phone numbers, and even met with a police officer – giving them important tools for staying safe.
After graduation, Alexis served in a DC seventh-grade classroom as a City Year corps member. Adopting the motto “we’re all in this together,” she bonded with her students – many of whom still email and call her. This fall, Alex will continue her career in service as a Teach For America-Miami corps member.
Phillip Emeritz (DC ’14)
“Every person can do their small part.”
Having grown up attending public school in Washington, DC, Phillip always knew he wanted to make a difference for students in our nation’s capital. After attending Binghamton University in New York, he was inspired by his sister – a City Year-Detroit team leader – to apply for City Year in his hometown. Phillip had previously seen the red jackets around town, and felt personally connected to their work to spread educational equity in high-need communities.
Working in a seventh-grade math classroom at Kelly Miller Middle School, he created lesson plans for the personal tutoring groups he led, as well conceptualized and executed school-wide events. Having been in similar contexts as Teach For America corps members, Phillip decided to apply to the education nonprofit. After finding out he was accepted as a DC corps member, Phillip’s old grade level administrator personally reached out to offer him a position at Kelly Miller – which means Phillip will continue to have an impact with the students he reached through City Year.
Carlon Howard (Rhode Island Corps ’14)
“I believe educational equity is one of the greatest civil rights issues of my generation.”
Carlon wanted to take a gap year between undergraduate school and law school, so he researched ways he could give back for ten months. City Year’s core values caught his attention – its focus on social justice for all and belief that “my humanity is tied with your humanity” resonated deeply with him as the son of parents raised in the Jim Crow South. He moved from Georgia to Rhode Island to serve as a near-peer mentor with City Year-Rhode Island and fell in love with the city, his students, and education.
Instead of heading to law school, Carlon will spend the next two years as a full-time teacher in his beloved adopted city through Teach For America-Rhode Island. He wants his students to master the core subject areas, but he also wants to make sure they feel cared for as people and get the chance to grow as members of a larger society. To this end, Carlon plans to bring City Year’s “joy factor” to his classroom.