Contact: Josh Taylor | Teach For America
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For Immediate Release
DENVER, FEBRUARY 8, 2007 — Teach For America today announced its expansion to Denver, with plans to bring 50 teachers to Denver Public Schools this fall.
Teach For America is the national corps of top college graduates who commit two years to teach in under-resourced public schools and become lifelong leaders in the pursuit of educational equity. In its 17-year history, Teach For America has recruited and trained nearly 17,000 teachers, impacting more than 2.5 million students. In addition to Denver, Teach For America places corps members in 25 urban and rural regions across the country.
The opening of a Denver site is part of Teach For America’s ambitious growth plan, which calls for the organization to expand from its current 4,400 corps members to 7,500 across more than 30 sites by 2010.
Teach For America · Denver has already received a $250,000 challenge grant from the Daniels Fund, and will be announcing additional key supporters in the months ahead.
“We are truly excited to join the broad reform efforts that are taking place in the Denver Public Schools,” said Kevin Huffman, Teach For America’s senior vice president for growth strategy and development. “People across the country are noticing what’s happening here in Denver, and we’re looking forward to working with Michael Bennet and his team in executing their ambitious goals.”
Like many large urban school systems DPS faces challenges including poor academic achievement, low graduation and college matriculation rates, and severely declining enrollment. DPS is in the process of implementing the Denver Plan, the goal of which is for DPS to lead the nation’s cities in student achievement, high school graduation, college and career preparation, and college matriculation. Significant reforms have already been implemented and DPS is seeing positive results.
“The first goal of the Denver Plan is that DPS students will learn from a highly skilled faculty and Teach For America will help us realize that goal,” said Michael Bennet, Superintendent of Denver Public Schools. “There are a number of positions within our schools that are traditionally hard to fill. Teach For America creates a pool of people with specific content expertise, that we can draw from to fill these positions. We believe our students, the District and the entire community will benefit from our partnership with Teach for America.”
Teach For America selects its corps from outstanding recent college graduates of all majors. In 2006, incoming corps members earned an average GPA of 3.5, and 96 percent held leadership positions in their schools or communities. Eleven percent of the senior classes at Notre Dame and Amherst applied, as did 10 percent of those at Dartmouth, Spelman, and Yale. At the California Institute of Technology, a school known for its rigorous math and science program, 8 percent of graduating seniors applied. Locally, some 7 percent of seniors at Colorado College applied. And since 1990, more than 120 graduates of the University of Colorado have become Teach For America corps members.
In addition to receiving intensive training at Teach For America’s summer institute, Denver corps members will receive ongoing professional development from both Teach For America and DPS.
After completing their two-year commitment, Teach For America corps members join an alumni force that is working from all sectors to expand educational opportunity. With 66 percent remaining in the field of education, Teach For America alumni are starting schools, becoming principals and district administrators, and winning accolades as teachers, including the 2005 National Teacher of the Year Award.
Teach For America also announced that it has named Sean VanBerschot executive director of Teach For America · Denver. VanBerschot is currently executive director of Teach For America · New Mexico, a position he has held for the past two and a half years. During his tenure, New Mexico has become one of Teach For America’s top-performing regions in terms of student achievement and has increased its regional funding base by 117 percent. VanBerschot was a 2001 Teach For America corps member in New Mexico, teaching third and fifth grades in Smith Lake, and sixth grade social studies in Rio Rancho. He received his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Illinois and earned a master of arts in teaching from Western New Mexico University.
Teach For America’s other placement sites are Atlanta, Baltimore, the Bay Area, Charlotte, Chicago, Connecticut, Eastern North Carolina, Greater New Orleans, Hawaii, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Memphis, Metro D.C., Miami-Dade, the Mississippi Delta, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, the Rio Grande Valley, South Dakota, South Louisiana, and St. Louis.
About Teach For America
Teach For America is the national corps of outstanding recent college graduates who commit two years to teach in urban and rural public schools and become lifelong leaders in expanding educational opportunity. Currently, 4,400 corps members are teaching in over 1,000 schools in 25 regions across the country; more than 12,000 Teach For America alumni continue working from inside and outside the field of education for the fundamental changes necessary to ensure educational excellence and equity. For more information, visit www.teachforamerica.org.