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A New Type of a New Start for a 2020 Corps Member

An incoming corps member discusses the summer's virtual training and looks ahead to her first year in the classroom.   

By Zachary Moser

August 6, 2020

When we sit down with Anna Rasmussen—a first-year Twin Cities corps member and middle school ELA teacher at KIPP Legacy Academy—she is finishing up her read of one of the books she’ll be teaching this year, The Great Fire by Jim Murphy.

“Right now, I’m planning activities and lessons that I feel like could go either way," Anna says. "We could do these activities over Zoom and have students chatting in for discussion, or we could be talking in small groups in the classroom.”

Alongside 16 other new Twin Cities teachers, Anna experienced a summer of training unlike any previous year's. Given the challenges and risk of the COVID-19 pandemic, TFA Twin Cities and the TFA National team spent much the spring transforming summer programming for a virtual setting. After a week of virtual community building and getting to know the region at Induction in June, corps members logged into a five-week blitz of Virtual Summer Teacher Training (VSTT).

“In terms of the entire experience, the two words that come to mind to me so often are adaptability and intentionality,” Anna says. “Both the regional TFA staff as well as the virtual training staff have been so adaptable and on their toes in terms of real, earnest work to get us prepared to be in the classroom."

Teach For America Twin Cities corps member Anna Rasmussen in her classroom

Anna joins the 2020 TFA corps holding a master’s degree in fine arts and creative writing from the University of Minnesota and with three years of experience at Best Prep, a Twin Cities education nonprofit. As a graduate student, she had the opportunity to teach writing courses to underclassmen and witnessed the varying skill levels that students were carrying when they entered the university. Students have been central to Anna's work.

“The work that TFA is doing with educational equity and the students-first mindset really resonated with me. TFA is such an awesome pathway to get right into the classroom and to be able to start teaching and working with students right away," Anna says.

In the next few months, Anna is looking at how she can leverage her love for reading to open discussions and learning points with her students.

The Great Fire does this sweeping overview of the events [of the Great Chicago Fire] through vignettes. It’s an interesting read right now because it is so much about a city in crisis,” she says. “In different ways, Minneapolis has felt a lot of turbulence and heartbreak over the past few months. How can this book be a springboard to talking about community and resiliency? What is most important? What is most essential, for you?”

What’s on Anna’s mind as we head into the school year?

“I am most excited to meet my students and start building those key relationships,” Anna says, with a smile breaking across her face. “Like Teach For America, I firmly believe that relationships are at the core of building a classroom community—both helping students learn and learning from our students.”