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Teach for America – An Alternative Route to Becoming a Teacher

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History of the Organization

Way back in 1989, Wendy Kopp, nurtured a vision, that all kids, irrespective of creed, background or color, merited a first-rate, affordable education. Her proposal was met with derision and skepticism and she was told that she was ''quite evidently deranged.''

Undeterred, she moved ahead with her plans, with zeal, passion and commitment. The seed she planted has today grown into an oak, whose canopy encompasses more than 9,000 corps members along with 600,000 students. 24, 0000 alumni have since crossed its thresholds, building lives for themselves.


Teach For America aims to eradicate educational imbalance to ensure that, not only every child, especially from the low socio-economic sections, is given an education, but also so that the benefits of education percolate into their lives and through them to the nation.

Over its, more than two decades of existence, outcomes have shown, that the children from the poorer sections of society have the capacity to learn and achieve at the highest levels and the achievement gap between them and the privileged has considerably narrowed.

How the Organization Works

Teach For America, recruits fresh college graduates and trains them for work in urban and rural public schools, in under-resourced sections of the community. The graduates have to commit to teach for a minimum period of two years.

Since the graduates do not have any traditional teacher certification, they are provided with an alternative teacher certification, a process by which the individual is awarded a teaching license. The alternative certification program came into existence, to address the decline in the number of students seeking a degree in education. Since the students had already earned a four-year bachelor's degree, the alternative certification program would further train them, while they are actively employed and working as teachers.

Every year TFA receives thousands of applications from people seeking to join. However, to be selected applicants must fulfill stipulated criterion and endure an extended process that includes a phone interview, presentation of a lesson plan; a personal interview; a written test and a monitored group discussion. The administration says, that irrespective of whether an applicant is accepted or rejected, ‘We encourage every individual to join in the important work of expanding opportunity for students in low-income communities.'

TFA looks for individuals with strong leadership potential, people with drive and commitment, people with an understanding that they are working for a specific cause and willing to work relentlessly in pursuit of that cause.

Pay & Benefits of Working with TFA

Corps members receive a full salary and wide-ranging benefits. It is certainly not a volunteering job and applicants will receive the same salary and benefits as other beginning teachers in that district. Salaries range from $30,000 to $51,000. Members working in urban areas draw higher salaries because of the higher cost of living.

Rural regions have lesser salaries as cost of living expenses are lower. Corps members are provided with comprehensive health-benefits along with retirement benefits that include employer-supported plans and 403(b) investment accounts.

Requirements for Joining TFA

Applicants to the course must fulfill the initial prerequisites. Applicants must have a Bachelor's degree by the first day of their assigned summer institute. On a 4.00 scale the undergraduate GPA should be at least 2.50. You must have legal documentation that validates that you are a citizen, national, or lawful permanent resident of the United States.

To get started, upload your resume, ideally it should be of one page and must not exceed two pages, along with a letter of intent, along with your personal and professional information.

Even though the cut-off date to the 2012 corps has expired, you have ample time to prepare for the 2013 corps. The online application for which, will be available in late summer 2012.

Pre-application preparation could include, gathering as much information as possible about TFA. Also scour job-search sites which also include articles on, how to write the ideal resume? How to face interviewers? What are the things to consider before taking up a job. Going prepared is being ready for battle and could save a lot of heartaches.

Teach For America (TFA) has grown into a national corps with an annual budget of $212 million and a staff of 1,400. It will be active in 43 regions in the 2011-12 school year.

The crux of TFA's phenomenal success lies in its ability to find, recruit and train teachers. It has become the single biggest teacher's training institution, than any other institution in America. It is well into its third decade of existence and it is predicted that by the time it crosses it, it will have trained 100,000 teachers. Truly, an exceptional achievement.

What Others are Saying

Fortune magazine named TFA as one of the 100 best companies in America to work for in 2012. Wendy Kopp reacting to it said, “It's an honor to be named to this list and is a testament to our staff members' tremendous leadership and teamwork, and the strong and inclusive culture we've built together.” “I am proud to work alongside such a talented, committed, and diverse group of people who care deeply about ensuring that all kids have access to an excellent education.”
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