June marked my 15th year with Teach For America. At that moment in the summer of 1999, I was living in Houston, TX and teaching 10th-grade English at Jefferson Davis High School at TFA’s summer training Institute. (And please sit with that for a moment—a high school named after the president of the Confederacy and attended by predominately students of color.) On the first day of teaching, I got a cut-out heart from my advisor that simply said, “Teach your children with love.” On the last, I received a completion certificate from the veteran Houston Independent School District teacher that mentored me, proclaiming that I was a “natural” teacher—a gesture of kindness and confidence I’ve never forgotten.

This summer, I have incorporated what I learned then and across many years of experience with TFA—as a teacher, a campus recruiter, and a self-proclaimed Institute nut who’s spent eight summers working for the development of our teachers (as an advisor, school director, Phoenix Institute director, and ultimately vice president of Institute)—to implement a new evolution of our training model for our corps members in the Twin Cities. Excitingly, this evolution has not only happened in Minnesota, but also took shape in different forms in different places—several communities around the country, like mine, have launched a local training model in partnership with the partners we work with year-round. Our national Institutes, which continue to prepare the vast majority of all TFA teachers, have also adapted with community partners to best support student learning and prevent the summer slide, while still preparing teachers for their fall classrooms across the country.

In an effort to reduce the school-to-prison pipeline, the White House plans to expand the My Brother’s Keeper initiative for young black and Latino men. PBS speaks to the LA school district superintendent and the CEO of Deloitte Financial Advisory Services about the importance of this initiative.

A North Carolina school district has found a unique way to avert the dreaded loss of learning that occurs over the summer. To reduce the so-called "summer slide," school officials have rearranged the academic calendar to decrease the length of summer vacation. Although students complete the same amount of school days as their peers in other districts, they only get five weeks off for summer.

(Photo credit: John Ashley)

This fall, Teach For America Charlotte will launch its first-ever alumni teaching fellowship—a program designed to significantly enhance the classroom-level supports and ongoing professional development opportunities available to corps members who continue to teach past their initial commitment. As a member of the alumni affairs team that will help bring the program to life, I find myself excited about the program both for the educators it will help build and for the one to whom it pays tribute: Principal Leroy “Pop” Miller, a genuine hero in the history of Charlotte public education.

After starting his career as a teacher at West Mecklenburg High School, Pop Miller spent 37 years in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, serving kids and families and demonstrating an unflagging commitment to educational excellence for all. When he passed away last summer, thousands of Charlotteans gathered to honor his legacy. They remembered him as teacher, principal, and as the no-nonsense leader our city looked to when it came time to help navigate the complexities of school desegregation in 1970s. As reported by the Charlotte Observer upon his passing, local administrators viewed him as “an educator’s educator,” someone who “really knew how to get the most out of people.”

Yesterday, we gathered with nearly 1,000 members of our community in Las Vegas, Nevada at our annual Educators Conference for a special town hall event. Joining us were many others across the country who tuned into the broadcast online. We spoke about the current moment in our movement for educational equity, and the role our broad community of corps members, alumni, staff, and partners can play in moving it forward. 

We also had the opportunity to answer questions from the audience. Each of us came away from the event feeling truly energized by the dedicated educators around us, and we were reminded just how powerful this movement is.
 
Below is a video of the livestream, as well as the text of our speeches.

 

A new bipartisan Senate bill is being hailed as the best fix for our nation’s broken student-loan repayment system. Among the proposed changes, loan payments would be taken directly from paychecks and would not exceed a certain percentage of the borrower’s income. 

As America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) educate an increasingly more diverse student body, some question whether these institutions should continue to receive special federal funding. While only 1 in 4 students at HBCUs are not black, certain individual cases such as an 82 percent white student population at a West Virginia HBCU have roused debates about the HBCU designation.

Justin Tandingan

This July 17–19 in Oakland, California, Teach For America will host its first-ever Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Corps Member Summit. This convening will be a unique opportunity for more than 100 second-year AAPI teachers and staff members to come together and reflect on their own identities—as individuals, teachers, and community members.

Each year, thousands of American students miss out on financial aid money because they never complete the FAFSA. To help fix this issue, researchers have presented findings on an effective way to get students to complete this application: texting! Studies conducted at the University of Virginia show that students who received text message reminders were significantly more likely to complete the application than those who did not. 

Compared to students in many other countries, American students demonstrate an average understanding of important financial literacy concepts. Experts worry that this lack of financial awareness will produce disastrous results for students as they get older, and need to think about saving for retirement.

Christina Luccio

Recently, Christina Luccio surprised the kids she taught in pre-K and kindergarten at their fifth-grade graduation. We were there to capture the tears, hugs, and memories shared between teacher, students, and parents. Below is the letter Christina wrote to her students in celebration of the day.

Dear PK-103 and K-111,

One of the most rewarding aspects of being a teacher is having the privilege of watching your students learn and grow over the course of the year. Back in 2007, you began pre-K as three- and four-year-olds. Some of you had never been apart from your families before, some of you were accustomed to being the only child at home, and some of you spoke no English. You were cautious about the novel environment, but at the same time excited and curious to see what it had to offer.

Over the course of that first year together, as well as the second when I had the pleasure of moving up with you collectively to kindergarten, you blossomed as scholars. Letters and sounds soon became words that invited you into the world of reading and writing, giving you strong voices to express yourselves. Shapes, numbers, and colors soon revealed patterns that helped explain your everyday lives. But the growth didn’t stop there.

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