Andrea Pursley

(Photo credit: Pete)

On July 17th from 3:30pm-4:30pm EDT at the Teach For America Educators Conference in Las Vegas, TFA co-CEOs Elisa Villanueva Beard and Matt Kramer will host a Town Hall to reflect on where TFA is as a community, as well as discussing the opportunities and challenges on which the organization is focusing. While the Town Hall’s live audience will include more than 1,000 people, it will also be available as a live stream for all corps members, alumni, staff, and community members who want to join—and ask questions.

The Town Hall kicks off an annual two-day conference that is designed to support educators who work directly in schools and school systems. This fall, TFA anticipates that more than 11,000 alumni will serve as pre-K-12 classroom teachers, nearly 900 will serve as school principals, and about 220 alumni will work in school systems leadership. Approximately two-thirds of TFA’s 37,000 alumni work in education more broadly, including in positions like instructional coaches and assistant principals, as well as in roles in higher education and in non-profit organizations working directly with schools.

Joseph Wilson and Anne Jones

It's easy for industry leaders to forget that discovery and innovation often start in the classroom.

This post originally appeared at U.S. News & World Report.

Our kids are amazing consumers of technology. With a few taps and swipes on their mobile devices, they have nearly instant access to much of the world’s information via downloadable apps and websites. But with a projected 8.65 million U.S. workers needed by 2018 in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (collectively referred to as STEM), they need to be more than just consumers – they need to be makers.

On Wednesday, the White House hosted its first-ever Maker Faire, bringing together tinkerers and entrepreneurs of all ages to share their creations and find areas of collaboration. The “big idea” of the Maker Movement is simple: to encourage people to seek solutions to everyday problems, identify new areas of opportunity and offer contributions that advance society – in ways both silly and significant.

Among these “makers” were a significant number of teachers and students, reminding us that the classroom is often the nucleus for innovation.

Josh Anderson

At its most recent board meeting, Chicago Public Schools approved a one-year extension of its contract with Teach For America. In the past, we’ve seen district contract considerations in Chicago generate some confusion—and even misinformation—about Teach For America. Given the importance of transparency in fostering meaningful debate about how best to pursue educational equity for local students, I wanted to share an update on the contract, along with how it fits into our broader work in the region. 

As local principals look to meet their staffing needs for the upcoming school year, the extension gives them the option to consider up to 325 first-year corps members and 245 second-year corps members (for the full text of the contract, see p.251 of the May 28th board agenda). An exact replica of our 2013-14 agreement, the extension holds the number of incoming corps members available for hire this year steady, while allowing our second year corps members to continue their work in the schools where they’ve spent the last year partnering with principals, parents, fellow educators, and students.

In my role as Vice President of Corporate Responsibility for Symantec, I have the privilege of driving the global implementation of Symantec’s community investment strategy and seeing first hand how organizations like Teach For America—our longest-standing philanthropic partner—are helping to inspire leaders, encourage creativity and collaboration, and make a meaningful impact for children and families in communities across the country.

Today’s students will become our next generation of leaders and innovators. As both a parent and a passionate technology professional, I deeply understand the role that education plays in the lives of children, and am honored to congratulate the winners of the 12th annual Symantec Innovation in Teaching Awards. These awards recognize outstanding Teach For America teachers who demonstrate original thinking and teamwork while increasing student achievement. Please join me in congratulating:

Alissa Changala and Sarah Batizy—Reading scores jump from 12% to 70%

In October 2013, only 12 percent of the ninth-graders at Alissa and Sarah’s high school were on-track or advanced in their state’s reading standards. Six months later, 70 percent achieved that goal. These two innovators developed personalized, rigorous, and engaging online lessons that students move through at their own pace.

Pass The Chalk Editorial Team

Over the last two weeks, we’ve introduced you to the 10 finalists in the Symantec Innovation in Teaching Awards. Meet the teachers who are changing the way their students learn and vote for the most inventive to win!

Travis Dempsey, sixth-grade math teacher at Rise Academy in Newark, NJ

In an effort to better meet the needs of his sixth graders, Travis implemented a blended learning system in his classroom. He created a math bar for his students to use in rotations with the small group lessons he leads at the front of the classroom.

At the math bar, students work at laptops on Khan Academy and other online math programs. Travis creates a “playlist” of objectives for each student to master independently and groups of students who work to collaborate on certain objectives. Students often choose to come to school at 6:30 in the mornings and on Saturdays to use the math bar to meet their blended learning goals.

Pass The Chalk Editorial Team

Over the next two weeks, we’re introducing you to the 10 finalists in the Symantec Innovation in Teaching Awards. Meet the teachers who are changing the way their students learn and vote for the most inventive to win!

Ramon Sanchez, second-, third-, and fourth-grade teacher at Horace Mann School in San Jose, CA

Ramon’s school is less than a mile away from many companies that prop the economy of the Bay Area, yet many students at his school have no opportunity to be creative and explore technology in a meaningful way.  

Last year, Ramon taught a combo class: 20 second-graders and six third-graders. He wanted to find a way to keep his third-grade students engaged. Using classroom computers and Google software, he found a creative alternative to having students complete modules that fostered creativity and collaboration through technology.

Pass The Chalk Editorial Team

Over the next two weeks, we’re introducing you to the 10 finalists in the Symantec Innovation in Teaching Awards. Meet the teachers who are changing the way their students learn and vote for the most inventive to win!

Rachel Warbelow, Ben Salkowe, Emily Bassier, and Raymond Gonzalez, seventh- and eighth-grade teachers at the Scholars Working OverTime at Eldorado Prep in Las Vegas, NV

In 2010, Rachel and Ben started the Scholars Working OverTime, an extended-day, college-prep program for underserved middle school students in East Las Vegas. They believed that in order to transform the lives of their students, they would also need to change the way that families, students, and teachers all work together.

Now in its fourth year, SWOT serves 120 seventh- and eighth-graders, many of whom have been on the team since the start. Rachel, Ben, Emily, and Raymond start each year by sitting down with each student and his or her family to commit to excellence. During the school year, they track academics, attendance, and behavior through an app they developed. All students and families have access to their data.

Pass The Chalk Editorial Team

Over the next two weeks, we’re introducing you to the 10 finalists in the Symantec Innovation in Teaching Awards. Meet the teachers who are changing the way their students learn and vote for the most inventive to win!

May Tsupros, high school science teacher at Chicago Bulls College Prep in Chicago, IL

May co-founded Gardeneers, a nonprofit that helps schools create amazing school garden programs. In its first year, Gardeneers serves four schools across Chicago. 

In addition to teaching hands-on science, the school garden programs supply students with nutritious food, teach healthy eating habits, get families involved at school, and strengthen the community. Research shows garden programs are linked with reduced crime and increased property values.

Pass The Chalk Editorial Team

Over the next two weeks, we’re introducing you to the 10 finalists in the Symantec Innovation in Teaching Awards. Meet the teachers who are changing the way their students learn and vote for the most inventive to win!

Liz Chen, Dale Hammer, and Grayson Cooper, math and science teachers at Northampton County High School in Conway, NC

Liz, Dale, and Grayson established the Northampton Summer STEM Program—a four-week summer program that challenges students to think critically, work as a team, and embrace a growth mindset.

During the first summer, 43 students from Northampton County High School and KIPP Pride High School completed project-based courses in math and science and an introductory computer science course. Students developed websites for small businesses in Roanoke Valley, learning how to maintain professional relationships.

Teach For America

Congratulations to our fellow AmeriCorps program City Year. This Saturday will mark 25 years of channeling the energy and talents of our nation’s young people to help provide additional educational supports to students in high-need communities.

Every year, nearly 3,000 young people join City Year and dedicate 11 months to make a lasting impact on students and communities across the country. Last school year, students impacted by City Year corps members spent about 14,600 more hours in school than the year before, and 82 percent of third through fifth graders improved scores on literacy assessments.

Both Teach For America and City Year believe in the tremendous impact an excellent education can have on a child’s future, so it’s no surprise that we share many alumni. Below are reflections from four individuals who served in both programs.

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