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5 Reasons to Teach in the Greater Delta: Mississippi & Arkansas

More than 700 Teach For America alumni and corps members live in the Greater Delta region of Arkansas and Mississippi, where they work toward educational equity in this extraordinary region.

Teach For America Region Greater Delta Mississippi and Arkansas

February 18, 2020

Residents of the Greater Delta have long been recognized for their contributions to American society. This region was the birthplace of American music, a major arena in the Civil Rights Movement, and the home of many of our nation’s most creative minds, including Richard Wright, Maya Angelou, William Faulkner, BB King, Johnny Cash, Tennessee Williams, Oprah Winfrey, Jim Henson, Eudora Welty, and Morgan Freeman.

At the same time, the people here have been greatly impacted by its history of segregation, the introduction of mechanized farming, and the effects of globalization. Teaching in this region is both challenging and deeply rewarding. Here are five of the best reasons to choose to teach in Teach For America’s Greater Delta region.

You’ll Meet Unforgettable People

Today, as much as ever, the Greater Delta is defined by its creative, entrepreneurial, and visionary people. In the classroom and in your neighborhood, you’ll meet and get to know people with personalities and talent you won’t find outside of these tight-knit communities.

Lincoln Boyd, a 2015 TFA Greater Delta alum, recounts one classroom story that embodies this culture:

“What does this mean?” a student demanded, pointing to the phrase “You’re going places!” which Lincoln had excitedly written at the top of her paper.

Lincoln explained to his student that he meant she’d done well, and he was saying her grades would take her wherever she wanted to go. “You’re going places, you’re doing stuff,” he said to her, face to face.

Immediately, her expression changed from frustration to elation.

“I’m going places, I’m doing stuff!” she repeated, and the quip quickly became her mantra.

Your Community Will Stand With You

There are many sayings unique to the Delta, and one of them is, “If you know someone, you know everyone.” Corps members who move here find that this is true, and it leads to a tremendous landscape of opportunity—both personal and professional. Looking to establish an after-school program or start a local nonprofit? Your community is behind you.

For example, TFA alumni founded Mississippi First, a nonprofit that has successfully worked to bring pre-K programs, charter schools, and more comprehensive sex education to Mississippi. The organization got off the ground and continues to thrive thanks to enthusiastic community support.

In another neighborhood, a TFA alum, Maya May, a 2017 TFA Greater Delta alum, was able to remodel and reopen a beloved local business in 2018, thanks to a locally sourced investment. The community came together to help Maya realize a collective dream.

You’ll Grow as a Leader

Across this region, you’ll find opportunities to take the lead in the ways that matter most to you.

Girls Write The World (GWTW), for example, is a one-of-a-kind organization founded by four TFA alumni. It’s a literacy and empowerment program serving young women in the Mississippi Delta, celebrating young female voices and providing a safe space for female creativity.

Like the GWTW founders, Jonathan Doram, a 2017 TFA Greater Delta alum, also found a way to grow in his leadership during his corps commitment. By championing his student musicians and participating in local musical theater, he built a diverse coalition that became the audience for his Stories from the Rock photojournalism project.

You’ll Be in a Place That Values Art and Music

If you love art and music, you’ll find no shortage of it here. Celebrating art, you’ll find the Delta Arts Alliance and the Mississippi Museum of Art. If you’re looking for music, you’ll love the Juke Joint Festival and many other musical events, not to mention the B.B. King Museum.

You’ll Forge Real Bonds

“Working in a rural region is a unique corps experience,” one alum said. “Our primary aim is to ensure that our network feels a sense of community, not only amongst themselves but also feel a sense of immersion into the communities they’re serving. Folks who build real relationships with the people they live and work alongside end up having the richest experience.”

If this sounds like something you want for yourself, you owe it to yourself to learn more about Teach For America Greater Delta: Mississippi & Arkansas, or apply today to join the Teach For America corps.