The birthplace of American music, a major arena in the Civil Rights Movement, and the home of many of our nation’s most prolific voices and creative minds - Richard Wright, William Faulkner, BB King, Tennessee Williams, Oprah Winfrey, Jim Henson, and Eudora Welty – Mississippi and its residents have long been recognized for their contributions to American society. The introduction of mechanized farming and the effects of globalization, however, have forced many people to leave the state to find employment elsewhere and have made Mississippi, and its Delta region in particular, a largely forgotten national treasure.
Despite the barriers that stand between Mississippi and newfound prosperity, it remains to be defined by its greatest asset: its people. Many residents who remain rooted here, and those who have come to join them through organizations like Teach For America, are creative, entrepreneurial, and visionary. They are brimming with the desire to see their home live up to its potential and become a successful and vibrant state in the 21st century.
In 1993, Teach For America’s Delta region expanded from 9 teachers in Arkansas to 20 teachers across both states, and by 2012, nearly 2,000 teachers moved to the region to make a difference in education. After growing to over 550 teachers in more than 50 districts in 2012, our leadership saw the potential to deepen our impact by focusing the efforts in Arkansas and Mississippi independently. Throughout our history in the region, we have sought to build relationships and partnerships with individuals and organizations in all of the communities we serve, and as we launch Teach For America-Mississippi in 2013 we continue to stand by our commitments to educational excellence and deep-rooted relationships.
Consensus is building across Mississippi that a brighter future for the state can only be created by ensuring that every child receives an excellent education. Teach For America has been forming vital partnerships with our districts since 1993, yet the pool of highly-qualified teachers from which administrators can hire remains too small. For the past two years, Teach For America has received requests from partnering districts exceeding our total corps size. Mississippi’s greatest asset remains its people, and Teach For America is committed to bringing great, young leaders to the birthplace of American creativity to join in the movement toward educational equity and the region’s renaissance.