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5 Reasons to Teach in South Louisiana

In 1990, Teach For America came to the Greater Baton Rouge area. Ever since, we have stood united with our partners in pursuit of educational equity for all students.

Teach For America corps member Shirley Bolden

February 7, 2020

More than 300 Teach For America alumni and corps members currently partner with urban and rural communities surrounding Baton Rouge, catalyzing collective change. Across the state, the number of students attending failing or near-failing schools has been reduced by more than 130,000. Louisiana also posted the third-highest average ACT composite score of the southern states, testing 100 percent of their students. TFA corps members and alumni have worked at every level of educational leadership to help realize these positive changes.

While this progress is meaningful, the long-term future depends on the leaders who will join us in these efforts. Here are a few reasons to teach in South Louisiana.

You’ll Be Valued as a Community Leader

Historically, communities in South Louisiana have come together to tackle their challenges head-on. Baton Rouge was an important battleground state during the Civil Rights Movement, as the site of the first bus boycott and an active center of student civil rights demonstrations.

Today, that spirit lives on in South Louisiana, where like-minded leaders are coming together to support public education and help bring excellent, equitable education to all students. That includes unique initiatives led by TFA alumni, like the Mayor’s Healthy City Initiative, led by 2012 alumnus Jared Hymowitz with the goal of improving the health of the Baton Rouge community. There’s also the Baton Rouge Youth Coalition, founded by 2005 alumnus Daniel Kahn to support underrepresented students in navigating the college admissions process. Today that same organization is led by 2010 alumnus Lucas Spielfogel and a host of TFA alumni that make up BRYC’s staff.

These and many other leadership opportunities stem from the nature of the region’s close-knit community, where corps members discover access to a tremendous number of decision-makers, allowing them to tap this network to pursue solutions to the challenges they encounter in the classroom and beyond.

Additionally, many TFA corps members find that teaching provides the opportunity to give a voice to people who would otherwise go unheard. For example, the president and vice-president of a local hospital were invited into the classroom, where students discussed examples of systemic inequity in their community. One child spoke about how his mom had injured herself but was unable to get the proper care because of a lack of health insurance. After the presentations were over, the hospital president asked to connect with that student’s family to get his mom the healthcare she needed.

You’ll Get the Advanced Training You Need to Lead in the Future

The South Louisiana region offers corps members a leadership development curriculum focused on developing the skills to lead systems. That means that as a corps member you’ll be coached to lead your classroom with the same skills you would use to assess, lead, and build an equitable and inclusive system. Thanks in part to these programs, skilled corps members—like Business Report’s 40 under 40 honorees Brenna Lamb and Chloé Wiley—find opportunities to advance into leadership. Chloé (a 2005 South Louisiana alumna) founded Baton Rouge Bridge Academy, now IDEA Bridge, a public charter school, while Brenna (a Greater New Orleans 2009 alumna) helped ideate and launch transformative new schools that will ultimately serve 20,000+ students across Baton Rouge.

The Culture is Magnificent

Louisiana is home to one of the most extraordinary cultural experiences in the United States—a brand of Southern hospitality that you won’t find anywhere else. Thanks to its blend of Cajun and Creole cultures, the region has produced one-of-a-kind juke joints, festivals, striking architecture, and some of the best gumbo in the world.

You Can Get a Tuition-Free Master’s Degree

Through a partnership with Louisiana State University, second-year corps members may pursue a master’s degree in any subject area. This partnership also covers a portion of the costs associated with the university’s professional masters in business administration.

You’ll Join Others on the Front Lines of Progress

In this region, school segregation remains a pervasive challenge. Following the 2016 shooting of Alton Sterling and the floods of 2016, the racial and economic disparities became even more visible—but through it all, neighbors came together to support one another. The discussions that surfaced over time made our collective progress an even higher priority.

While the State Department of Education works diligently to create progressive policies and structures to support public education, organizations like Urban Congress on African American Males and Dialogue on Race bring members of the South Louisiana community together to understand and solve some of our most complex issues. TFA corps members who are committed to ending educational inequity fit right in here.

Mission-driven and united around a vision of educational equity, TFA corps members and alumni in South Louisiana will be there to welcome you from day one. Learn more about Teach For America South Louisiana, and apply to teach in the corps today.