Four Connecticut College graduating seniors have been asked to participate in Teach for America this year, placing the College among top Teach for America schools. The four soon-to-be graduates join the more than 40 College alumni who have worked to eliminate educational injustices by teaching in low-income communities across the country through Teach for America.
Brenner Green ’12, a psychology major, will teach secondary special education in the Las Vegas Valley. He applied to Teach for America hoping to help gay students struggling with their own identity issues.
“When I was growing up, my education never included a curriculum that met my needs as a gay young adult. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history and culture were not ever part of my school's curriculum, making it hard for me to come out and accept myself as gay,” he says.
Through teaching, Green hopes he will be able to provide students from diverse backgrounds with a well-rounded education that “that recognizes and accepts their unique identities.”
Teach for America selects the nation’s most promising future leaders to serve in 43 regions across the country. Isaac Hancock ’12, who studied sociology and American studies with a concentration in race and ethnicity, plans to bring what he has learned at Connecticut College to the fight against inequality.
“Teach for America offers me the opportunity to both exercise my classroom knowledge of race, class, gender, and sexuality based inequality and work in the field that is best able to remedy marginalization,” he says.
Hancock will work in New York City at Teach for America partnered schools serving nearly all black or Latino students. In his final weeks on campus, he says he is looking forward to helping his students succeed through high school and beyond to their own college graduations.
“I am ultimately basing my success on the success of my students. Whatever I get out of the program is inconsequential if my students are not equipped to take on the challenges ahead of them,” said Hancock.
Emily Pfannenstiel ’12, a psychology and art double-major, will be teaching preschool in the San Francisco Bay area next year. Pfannenstiel has worked with Teach for America throughout her senior year as a campus campaign coordinator helping to promote the organization’s mission to fellow students.
Pfannenstiel has been interested in working with children since she first started college and has given her time to several educational programs, including Jumpstart, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Connecticut College’s Kids, Books and Athletics program.
“For me, participating in Teach for America is about taking the time to give back by helping students realize their potential. For the next two years, my time and attention will be given solely to my students! I could not be more excited for this opportunity. It is truly an honor.”
Jeff Baird ’12, an English and American studies double major, always knew he wanted to be a teacher. Rather than heading straight to graduate school, he applied for a position with Teach for America because he felt strongly about the program’s commitment to promoting social change while bridging the achievement gap.
Baird will begin teaching next fall at Success Academy Middle School in Harlem. “One of the aspects of working for Teach for America that I'm looking forward to most is gaining a network of peers with a similar goal. It's crucial to have that support network when going into something so new and challenging,” he says.
Since 1990, nearly 33,000 recent graduates have joined Teach for America. As corps members and alumni, they have reached more than 3 million students across 43 urban and rural communities, founded dozens of high-performing schools, led school districts and charter management organizations, and helped pass important education legislation. In 2011, Teach for America organization was named one of Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For.”
Before being asked to join the organization, all applicants must undergo a lengthy interview process. During the course of each participant’s two-year commitment, Teach for America requires all members to complete a master's degree in education.