Teach for America is an organization that sends qualified college graduates into the education systems in low-income communities to teach for two years.
For Auburn senior Cecilia Powell, Teach for America has given her the opportunity to combine her desires to teach and to serve others
“I want to use my desires to teach and to be in the education system to serve others,” Powell said. “I don’t necessarily just want to teach in the best school and make the most money, but if I feel called to teach in a low-income area, I’d be interested in that. Teach for America was the perfect way for me to combine these two things together.”
Powell first heard about Teach for America in high school and started seriously considering it as a possibility after graduation during her sophomore year at Auburn.
“I first heard about Teach for America in high school because there were some Teach for America workers in Huntsville, Ala., where I’m from,” Powell said. “I found out a lot more about it when I came to college. They have a big presence on Auburn’s campus with a lot of recruiters and meetings. “
The Teach for America application process is thorough, beginning with an online application, followed by a phone interview, then a day of in-person interviews if you make it through each round.
“The hardest part of the application process for me was the group interview where we had to prepare and teach a five minute lesson,” Powell said. “As an English major, I don’t have an education background, so thinking about teaching a lesson was overwhelming.”
When Teach for America participants complete their two-year commitment, they receive their teaching certification in the U.S.
“Teach for America was partially a practical decision because I’m an English major, not an education major, and I’d like to teach long-term as a career,” Powell said.
Once you are accepted for Teach for America, you are placed in a city and assigned an area and subject to teach. Powell is placed in Memphis and will teach secondary math. However, this could change depending on where Powell can find a job.
“It’s been interesting to find out that placement isn’t necessarily set in stone,” Powell said. “The city is, but the subject depends on wherever the need is and wherever I get a job.”
Teach for America partners with schools to hire people with their recommendation. Once you are accepted and receive your assigned city, you must apply for a job through the city school system where you are placed.
Powell says that the biggest factor in deciding to do Teach for America is her passion to serve the kids she will teach.
“I’m most excited about the kids,” Powell said. “I’m nervous about moving to a new city and being a teacher, but when I think about the kids and spending each day with them, that’s when I get excited.”
Powell encourages anyone who is interested to apply, even if education isn’t the career path you want to take.
“Even if education isn’t something you want to do, I think it’s a great two-year way to serve after college and to find out where the state of our education is,” Powell said. “We need a lot of help. So many kids are not receiving the education they need, and we can do something about it. Teach for America is about changing the community, so we need people in every profession who care about education and are willing to serve.”