Teachers being deployed to Louisiana

Published 12:11 am Sunday, June 1, 2008

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Teach For America, the national organization that recruits recent college graduates to teach in underserved public schools, will place 50 new teachers in south Louisiana this fall.

The 50 teachers are among the 3,700 Teach For America educators starting this fall at schools across the country.

The new crop of educators is the largest entering corps of teachers in the history of the 18-year-old organization, Teach For America spokesman Patrick Vassel said in a news release. The 3,700 teachers were chosen from an applicant pool of nearly 25,000, Vassel said.

Email newsletter signup

The program does not require applicants to have teaching certification or degrees in education. The organization has expanded its pool of teachers in south Louisiana, with the 50 new teachers joining 45 others who are completing their service.

The 50 new educators will be assigned to schools in five parishes: East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, St. Helena, Pointe Coupee and St. Landry. Among those returning to the classroom is Will Nash.

A Kentucky native and 2006 graduate of the University of Kentucky with a double major in political science and economics, Nash teaches math, speech and drama at Capitol Middle School in Baton Rouge.

He was recruited while at college for the two-year program and said he loves it so much he is going to work for the group as a recruiter when he finishes his service. Nash said he was attracted to the program because of the prospect of making a significant impact immediately after graduation.

‘‘It’s very eye-opening to see where a student is versus where they should be,’’ Nash said. ‘‘Some students don’t see education as an important step in their long-term plans and goals.’’

Former Teach For America educator Rebecca Rubins, a 2005 Harvard graduate with a degree in social studies and a Minneapolis native, was also attracted to the program for that reason. ‘‘You want to make a difference right away,’’ she said.

Rubins, an education program officer at the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, taught eighth-grade science at Glen Oaks Middle School for the 2005-2006 school year and sixth-grade science at Capitol Middle School in her second year.

‘‘Teaching was the hardest experience of my life. I definitely have empathy for teachers now,’’ Rubins said. ‘‘Did I make a difference? I hope I did.’’

Shan Davis, human resources director with the St. Helena Parish School system, said her district was able to fill seven teaching positions last year with Teach For America teachers and she hopes to get at least seven this year.

‘‘It’s been very positive for us, and the teachers are very enthusiastic,’’ said Davis, whose school district is ranked last in the state on school performance scores. ‘‘They come in here looking at the experience as a challenge, and I think they find it.’’

Elizabeth Duran Swinford, East Baton Rouge Parish associate superintendent for human resources, said Teach For America has been very positive for the more than five years the school system has been working with the group.

‘‘They send us qualified folks and they train them well,’’ Swinford said.


On the Net:

Teach for America, http://www.teachforamerica.org