Northwestern remains a top Teach for America contributor

Jeanne Kuang, Assistant Campus Editor

Northwestern is a top contributor to educational nonprofit Teach for America for the seventh consecutive year, the organization announced earlier this month.

TFA, an organization that seeks to “expand education opportunity” in low-income communities, recruits upperclassmen annually to join its teaching corps following their graduation. Recent graduates receive summer training before teaching for two years in a school in a low-income area. 

This year,Northwestern is a top contributor to educational nonprofit Teach for America this year. NU placed eighth among medium-sized schools, making NU the eighth-most prolific university in its size category in the ranking, released Sept. 3. Last year, NU was the top contributor among medium-size universities, sending 63 graduates to TFA. NU has dominated the list since its introduction in 2008. 

Eliza McNabb, TFA’s recruitment manager at NU, said the program appeals to students because of its potential for social change.

“The Northwestern education is targeted at not only building your own skill set and thinking about how you can further yourself, but also focusing on the impact you can have on the world around you and how you can use both your skills and the education you’re receiving to change and shape the world that you’re a part of,” she said.

Students undergo a three-stage application process before being accepted to TFA, McNabb said. According to the University, 7 percent of the class of 2013 applied to be corps members.

Communication senior Milana Duggan, who applied to TFA as a junior, will join the teaching corps in Jacksonville, Fla., after she graduates next year. She said she was drawn to the organization’s core values.

“I really admire Teach for America,” Duggan said. “I have the opportunity to make a difference in the most struggling schools across the nation.”

Duggan said NU students are “attuned to how people interact, what people really need, what it means to serve others.”

Cresence Birder (Communication ’11) taught as a corps member in Miami for two years after she graduated and now continues to teach full-time at her school, as well as work part-time as a TFA staff member. She said though NU is not the only kind of university that produces successful TFA corps members, it helps students gain work ethic and character-building that are important for teachers.

Birder described her school as “under-resourced” and “chaotic” when she first arrived with many other corps members.

“It’s been pretty fascinating to see the transformation of the school over the past two years,” she said. “The kids are more in line, they’re ready to learn. … Everyone’s been working to give these kids real learning opportunities instead of having them go to this chaotic holding cell.”

Birder also said her TFA experience taught her of the many systemized problems in the education system.

“My experience was fantastic,” she said. “If you have the skill set that you need and you have your mind and your heart in the right place, then you can have a really great experience and also impact a lot of kids.”

Duggan said next year she hopes to help in whatever way she can.

“I really want to learn what it means to be satisfied in an impact that may seem small,” she said.

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