The young alumni are working for Teach For America (TFA), the national corps of top college graduates and professionals who commit to teach for two years in public schools to expand opportunity for children in low-income communities. F&M is the ninth-largest contributor of graduating seniors to the corps this year among schools its size, according to TFA.
“It’s personal for me to go into the classroom and solve the problem where it starts,” said Alejandra Palomino ’12, a native of New York City who teachs at Leadership Prep Bedford Stuyvesant (LPBS) Charter School in Brooklyn. “The children are smart and driven, and it’s amazing to see the difference a school can make. I’m excited to be part of that.”
Palomino, a sociology major at F&M, taught at LPBS during an internship in the summer of 2011. She is among a group of F&M corps members that is twice the size of last year’s contingent, which included seven graduating seniors, and more than triple the size of the 2010 group, which included four graduating seniors. Fifty seniors from F&M have joined the corps since TFA’s founding in 1990.
“Teach for America offers recent graduates an unparalleled opportunity to make an immediate difference by teaching students from underserved communities,” said F&M President Daniel R. Porterfield, who personally helped F&M students prepare for their TFA interviews. “I admire TFA for its commitment to ending educational inequality and its powerful belief, shared by we who teach at liberal arts colleges, that our young graduates can be high-impact difference-makers in the world right now.”
Applications for TFA more than tripled at F&M in 2011-12 over the previous academic year, as students received encouragement and assistance throughout the application process from Porterfield, Special Assistant to the President Jeff Carlson, Career Specialist Lori Greenawalt and TFA campus campaign coordinator Kelly Marchisio ’12. Porterfield is a member of TFA’s University Champions’ Board, a group of college presidents and chancellors supporting the organization’s efforts.
A record 48,000 individuals nationwide applied to TFA’s 2011 corps, including 12 percent of all seniors at Ivy League schools—with only 14 percent of all applicants earning acceptance.
Joining the corps are 2012 F&M graduates Andrew Berg, David Faich, Elana Jaret, Seymone Killins, Adela Korn, Christina Mueller, Megan Pauley, Palomino, Lis Power, Deanna Ross, Brooke Rubin, Alison Strohm and Sara Welish. Also joining the 2012 TFA corps are Ryan Bell ’11, Beatriz Cervantes ’10 and Wes Fillman ’11.
TFA corps members earn full salaries from the school districts in which they work, generally receiving the same earnings and benefits as other entry-level teachers. The students also receive an AmeriCorps education award of $5,350 at the end of each year of service. TFA is a member of AmeriCorps, a network of national service programs that provides education awards to individuals for community service.