Students met last night at 7 p.m. in the Terrace Lounge of the Statler Hotel for an informational meeting on Teach for America (TFA).
The program offers qualified students an opportunity to teach for two years at one of the many struggling public schools across the country. Participation in the program requires students to apply and is restricted to a small percentage of applicants.
At the meeting, Erin McMahon JGSM, an active member of TFA, introduced Rachel Ford, another spokesperson for the program, and Kevin Hall ’03, campaign coordinator at Cornell and organizer of the event.
McMahon opened by briefly describing the program and stating its goals to “place outstanding graduates such as yourself to teach for two years in inner-city schools and to build a network of leaders to improve education nationally.”
Afterward, McMahon told a personal story about her involvement as a teacher in the program and explained the personal dilemmas, obstacles and victories she faced during her experience. Ford followed McMahon in telling the audience her experiences in the program and then assisted in answering student questions toward the end of the meeting.
Following the meeting, interested students presented questions to Ford and McMahon.
“The meeting was really informational,” said Eli Rosofsky ’03, one of the several students planning to apply for a teaching position. “[The meeting] probably convinced a lot of people that the values in the program are worthwhile.”
Other students commented on the speakers’ presentation.
“[The] enthusiasm of the speakers helped motivate me,” said Melanie Fraticelli ’03, another student planning to apply. “I went to a public school in New York City; I had first-hand experience with public education, so I am very excited.”
Some students, however, were disappointed with the overall focus of the meeting.
“This information session was for a different group of students than those who came to it,” said Maurice Ducoing ’03. “A good number of the seniors right now are asking, ‘Where do I want to teach?’ The meeting didn’t address the issues we came here to find out about … it didn’t clarify what they want in a candidate.”
“[McMahon] was great at hitting the details of the program but they should have brought a spokesman from the admissions committee,” said Jennifer Schechter ’04.
“I felt that [the meeting] was a general overview of the program. [It] should have included more details on [teaching] sites,” said Kristen Russell ’03.
Hall later commented on the event.
“The purpose of the meeting was to get the word out, to clear up some of the myths,” he said. “For example, we wanted students to know that the program was open to all majors, not just English majors. … We want students to know that they are not going to change the world, but there is a lot they can do.”
McMahon also elaborated, saying, “I wanted to expose the real face of Teach for America. … I also wanted to make sure the audience understood the second part of our mission, improving education nationally.”
Before leaving, Ford shared her opinion of the information session.
“I think in general I was thrilled about the attendance,” Ford said.
According to Hall, attendance was twice that of last year’s meeting and much greater than expected.
Archived article by David Andrade