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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

UF becomes a top contributor of grads to Teach for America

<p>Anthony Fowler, who is a 2010 Nashville corps member, teaching fifth- and sixth-grade social studies at New Vision Academy. Fowler is the former president of the Florida Cicerones.</p>

Anthony Fowler, who is a 2010 Nashville corps member, teaching fifth- and sixth-grade social studies at New Vision Academy. Fowler is the former president of the Florida Cicerones.

UF is showing the rest of the country that Gators care.

This year, UF was the 5th highest contributor of recent college graduates to Teach for America, with 75 students joining the corps.

TFA is a national program that sends recent college graduates to teach in low-performing schools around the United States.

Angie Brice, regional director of recruitment for Florida, said she believes UF is a top contributor because its students care strongly about social justice and making high-quality education accessible to everyone.

She said the number of students interested in TFA was fairly low when she came to UF as a recruitment manager in 2009. During her time at UF, Brice said she and other recruiters placed an emphasis on working with students and faculty to raise awareness on campus about America's achievement gap.

Two years ago, UF wasn't even in the top 10 list of contributors, Brice said. Now, it ranks with such perennial contributors as University of California, Berkeley, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"To go from a place of a lack of awareness ... and to see that UF is in [the top tier], so many amazing Gators are truly committed to this cause," Brice said.

UF is also a top producer of diverse members, which is impressive because TFA recruits at about 300 colleges and universities, she said.

Former Student Body Vice President Larnell Vickers worked in TFA's regional office for a year before joining the corps. He said he got involved because of his concern that low-income students aren't learning as well as their more privileged counterparts, which he considers a crisis.

Vickers is now teaching ninth -grade reading at Booker T. Washington High School in Miami.

"I truly wanted to give back and make a difference," he said. "I personally know that I want to continue and have a career in education, so I wanted to get that firsthand experience and be on the front lines."

Brice said TFA received about 47,000 applications nationally last year and has an 11 percent acceptance rate.

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New recruits receive training in classroom management before being sent to one of 43 regions across the country.

Because of the demanding nature of the positions, Brice said people are not likely to apply because of economic factors such as not being able to find a job out of college.

Jessica McCarthy, a family, youth and community sciences senior, wants to join TFA when she graduates and participated in a similar program this summer.

McCarthy traveled to Pennsylvania to be part of Summerbridge Pittsburgh, which is part of a nationwide program called Breakthrough Collaborative.

From June to August, Summerbridge volunteers taught low-performing middle school students science, math, English and Spanish with the goal that when students returned to school in the fall, they would perform better and get into good high schools. She said she enjoyed working with the students because they needed some focused help.

"I was on the fence before about wanting to be a teacher," she said, "and working with those kids made me decide that I really wanted to."

 

Anthony Fowler, who is a 2010 Nashville corps member, teaching fifth- and sixth-grade social studies at New Vision Academy. Fowler is the former president of the Florida Cicerones.

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