There are only 130,000 children in the entire state of Delaware. They could all fit into Dover Downs with 10,000 seats to spare. Yet just one in 10 of these children growing up in poverty will graduate college. For these students, the future holds few choices or opportunities. Teachers, parents, community organizations, and state leadership have the power to change this. And at Teach For America – Delaware, our corps members and staff are deeply invested in working with the community to ensure that one day, every single child in Delaware will be college ready. Our small size and commitment to working together fills our urban, suburban, and rural region with an enormous sense of possibility.
Teachers who lead with a clear and inspiring vision, drive dramatic academic and personal growth, and partner with their students, families, and colleagues are in demand in Delaware. Retention is highly valued—as a state, we are working towards honoring and developing the profession of teaching through effective professional development that focuses on practice, cultural competency, and leadership.
In Northern Delaware’s largest city, Wilmington, corps members and alumni at Howard High School have championed a college access program with the College Board and fellow teachers , started and led a debate team, composed a school newspaper, and organized school assemblies. On the other side of the city, corps members are rethinking the delivery of early childhood education with the Office of Early Learning at the Latin American Community Center, a birth to age five community-based organization. Around the corner in the Community Services Building, more than 80 nonprofit organizations, including Teach For America, are collaborating to improve services to people in our state. After school and during the summer, Delaware corps members engage with students at community centers through internships that focus on college access and opportunity through increased rigor of existing programs.
In Dover, our capital city, policy makers are implementing the state’s Race To The Top grant, which has, along with other initiatives, launched a teacher evaluation system, statewide longitudinal data dashboard, SAT for all juniors, talent incentives for retention in high-needs schools for excellent teachers, and common core professional development. A few minutes from the Department of Education is the Capital School District, a new site for corps members in 2012. In 2013, we will be stretching further down state, to small rural school districts near the beaches newly taken over by vision setting superintendents. Altogether, this means real change not just for children in one school, but for thousands of children in districts throughout the entire state.