University contributes seventh highest number of graduates to poverty-focused education organization

Teach for America, an organization that brings graduates to classrooms in various high-poverty areas, has released a report that shows the University contributes one of the highest number of graduates to the program in the country.

On Sept. 10, Teach for America released its sixth annual ranking of schools contributing the greatest number of graduates to its teaching corps and this year, the University ranked seventh, a three-spot jump from last year. For the past six years, the University has ranked among the top contributing colleges and universities of its size.

Lillian Nguyen, assistant director at the Career Center, said in an email that approximately 72 of Illinois’ graduating seniors were interviewed for Teach For America’s 2013 corps, and this year, 56 of those graduates from the University are now a part of the incoming corps.

Teach For America, founded in 1990, has had more than 505 Illinois alumni who have taught as corps members. These individuals commit two years to teaching in high-need schools and become future leaders in helping end educational inequality, according to the organization’s website.

Elsa Tippy, a 2013 graduate of the College of Education and a new member of the corps, said that having any support and experience the first couple of years after graduation is always welcome.

“Signing up for TFA aligned exactly with my goal of teaching in urban educational areas,” Tippy said.

She said her experience teaching at Bronzeville Lighthouse Charter School in Chicago has been challenging but a learning and growing experience.

Shawnee Cohn, Teach for America’s regional communications manager, said in an email that every year, Teach For America recruits a diverse group of individuals of all academic disciplines. The selected group goes through intensive training, support and career development to help the leaders increase their impact and fully understand the necessities required to provide an exceptional education for kids who aren’t getting great education, she said.

“Every year, many outstanding Illinois graduates choose to pursue service-oriented assignments with Teach For America,” said Jennifer Neef, associate director in Career Connections at the Career Center.

“Illinois alumni are leaders and are committed to positively impacting communities throughout the nation. It is not surprising that Teach for America is successful on our campus.” This fall, more than 11,000 corps members will teach in 48 urban and rural regions throughout the country.

Nguyen said corps members will be visiting the University from Oct. 14 to 17 and Dec. 3 to 6 to speak to students interested in the program.

Stephanie can be reached at [email protected]