ATLANTA – Teach For America boasts a record 5,800 new recruits for the 2012-2013 academic year, including 550 Hispanics, also a record high for the 23-year-old organization.
“We believe in the idea of having role models for our children in the classroom. Someone a Latino child can look at and say ‘that’s what I’m going to be someday,’” Amanda Fernandez, Teach For America’s vice president of diversity and inclusiveness, told Efe.
The new recruits bring to nearly 10,000 the number of teachers who will be sent to struggling public schools across the United States to serve more than 750,000 students, 40 percent of them Hispanic.
“We have multiple ways through which we are trying to attract Latino talent to our organization, and when we talk about Latino talent it’s with the objective of identifying more Latino leaders who teach in the schools and who keep working to bring more educational opportunities to our children,” Fernandez said.
Teach For America has established ties with groups such as the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, Management Leadership for Tomorrow, New Futuro and the National Society of Hispanic MBAs in pursuit of creating a more diverse and better prepared teaching corps.
Almost 40 percent of Teach For America participants identify themselves as minorities. Latinos make up around 10 percent of the total, while African Americans account for 13 percent.
The ranks of Teach For America – which is open to people who have distinguished themselves in a range of fields – currently include military veterans, financial analysts, executives from the non-profit sector and graduate students.
“Teach For America is in many ways an organization to develop leaders,” Fernandez said. “We don’t just give our teachers the opportunity to serve the community or be a role model, will also give them important leadership aptitudes.”
Two-thirds of those who have passed through the Teach For America program go on to pursue careers in education, according to figures from the organization.
More than a third of the 2012-2013 class of Teach For America recruits relied on Pell grants to finance their education and 23 percent are the first in their families to graduate from college.
The more than 48,000 people who applied to Teach For America this year included one in every seven Latino graduates of Ivy League universities. EFE