Emmanuel Students Selected for Teach for America Program
April 19, 2011
Emmanuel College students Jake DeLuise '11, Jessica Robinson '11 and Kaitleen Gillis '11 have been selected to join Teach for America, an American nonprofit organization that aims to eliminate educational inequity by enlisting the nation's most promising future leaders to teach for two or more years in low-income communities throughout the United States. These future educators will be spread east of the Mississippi, respectively teaching in Boston, Mass., Memphis, Tenn., and Delaware.
Teach for America corps members dedicate their time to improving the education of low-income students within one of the programs 39 regions. These areas have high levels of educational inequity, which corps members look to correct. According to Teach for America, educational inequity begins at a young age and increases as a child gets older. A child living in a low-income community will already be two to three grades behind their higher-income counterpart upon reaching the fourth grade. A statistic posted on their website notes that only half of low-income students will graduate from high school by their 18th birthday, and those that do graduate perform, on average, at an eighth-grade level.
The nine-step application process for Teach for America begins in August with initial applications and continues to whittle down the applicant field, until the final selection date in April. Accepted applicants then attend a five-week training course in one of six locations across the United States. Both DeLuise and Gillis will travel to Philadelphia to develop the foundational knowledge, skills, and mindsets needed to be highly effective beginning teachers. Following their time in Philly, the two will return home for a week before heading to their respective regions to begin their two-year stint as teachers.
Gillis's path to joining Teach for America began well before college with her enrollment in a private secondary school. While there, her teachers "loved what they did and wanted to help us 150 percent," inspiring her to "want to become one of those teachers." After hearing about Teach for America through a career/volunteer fair at Emmanuel College, Gillis knew the program was the perfect fit for her. "I knew I wanted to volunteer after college while staying in the States. Teach for America proved to the ideal fit," she said. For her, the program allows a head start on a teaching career, while helping to pay for the graduate school classes she will attend in the evenings.
Teach for America also looks for corps members that bring leadership values from outside the field of education. DeLuise brings with him plenty of leadership experience as a three-year captain of the Emmanuel College men's volleyball team. As a corps member, he will attempt to translate his experience in athletics to the classroom by holding his students to high standards, which he feels plays a large role in their success. When asked how he plans to help fix educational inequity he responded, "I believe the key to students reaching their full potential is pushing them beyond what they've been told they can accomplish."