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Falling in Love with Miami

Whether you’re here for a weekend or lifetime, Miami has a magical way of finding its place our hearts. Meet 10 newly accepted TFA applicants and learn why they chose to join our movement for educational equity in Miami-Dade.

Miami-Dade Incoming Corps Member Site Visit

February 19, 2019

Ten rising 2019 TFA Miami-Dade teachers are feeling the love for Miami. After visiting our region for two days in September on a site-visit for incoming applicants, they have each decided to accept their Teach For America offers! The visit to Miami included observing local classrooms; meeting and connecting with current Teach For America teachers and program alumni; sightseeing and discovering local eats, arts, and more.

Our new teachers come from many places across the country, but starting in June, they will be dedicated to raising Miami to become the best city it can be for ALL students. They will join a network of over 150 current corps members and 600 alumni working to bring excellent education and equitable opportunity to Miami’s future leaders. Each is connected by a love for helping students grow and raise their hands and hopes in Miami-Dade classrooms. Learn more about our new teachers and why they chose Teach For America below.

Miami-Dade Site Visit

“I had teachers whose passion inspired me to push myself harder than I ever thought I could. I had counselors who supported me through my trials and anxieties and provided me with all the resources I could possibly need. I was lucky. I am joining Teach For America in order to offer others the same education and support that guided me through an intensely painful period of my life...In my education, I found a winning lottery ticket and a life vest. With Teach For America, I will give others the same.”

Shireen Ardaiz
Williamsburg, VA
TFA Miami-Dade 2019

“When I found out about Teach for America, I was elated to learn that there was a place for me to serve others in a capacity that changes lives for those whom we should be investing in most: our children. I admire the work of Teach for America, and I hope to be a part of the change I want to see in our schools.”

Matt Boerner
Alpharetta, GA
TFA Miami-Dade 2019
Miami-Dade - Site Visit

“In high school, I co-founded a mentorship program called “Ojo A Ojo”. Our goal was to tutor ninth grade students at our low-income high school in the Rio Grande Valley who were at risk of being held back a grade level. Working with those students taught me more than I ever expected - about them, the education system, and myself. I was shocked that every student I worked with was unable to do their algebra homework without a calculator because they never learned their multiplication tables. I was upset that these students had fallen through the cracks so early on and had no one to help them get back up. Years later, they were paying the price and I did not want to see another student struggle in the same way again. I especially want to help students in communities similar to where I grew up where not all students have equal access to a quality education.”

Sierra Garcia
Austin, TX
TFA Miami-Dade 2019
Miami-Dade - Site Visit

“There are so many students who have the potential to do incredible things but are born into communities that will not allow them to succeed because they lack the resources. It is unacceptable that we still have communities in our backyards where students have to travel over 20 miles to the nearest schools, that schools are still segregated through redistricting, and that high school students have never visited anything outside of their communities. The list goes on and I do not want to be another person who stands by and allows the list to grow.”

Elizabeth Gonzalez
Athens, GA
TFA Miami-Dade 2019

“The fight of educational inequity is deeply personal. I am the daughter of an immigrant and grew up in a low-income community where kids are not expected to go to college, let alone UCLA. Attending school in a low-income community, I saw first-hand the obstacles in public education. I am a proud Mexican-American woman in STEM. My goal is to begin my career in education and eventually become a data analyst. I hope to work for a company or nonprofit that puts finding trends in big data to use, in terms of how to improve conditions for families in low-income communities.”

Paulina Hernandez
Los Angeles, CA
TFA Miami-Dade 2019


Site Visit

“I want to teach more kids who crave a safe space to learn. I want to be a part of their daily lives. I want to learn from them and learn how I can better assist them. I am joining Teach For America to help students, no matter their circumstances, find the security, fulfillment, and happiness that comes from learning.”

Preston Manley
Temecula, CA
TFA Miami-Dade 2019

“At 17, I got my first real job outside of my hometown and I met people who worked tirelessly for everything they had and could barely get a decent education for their children, who lived less than thirty minutes from me. I could not grasp the inequality of resources that existed. I graveled with how a system could so obviously favor privileged people and ignore so many others. I spent the summer of 2017 in Washington DC where I spoke with many incredible people who had partaken in Teach for America and loved their experience. That fall, I took an honors interdisciplinary class on Education Law. This class demonstrated how policy created by people who had never experience the real world created massive inequalities and discrepancies, as shown by major flaws in NCLB and other failing school legislature. The class inspired me to become a policy maker, but in order to do so, I must experience what I will be making policy about.”

Samantha McCarthy
Skillman, NJ
TFA Miami-Dade 2019
Miami-Dade - Site Visit

“Being raised in a low-income community in Miami as a student who did not know English until third grade, I am thankful that TFA exists. There is so much work to be done in our schools, but not enough people to do it; I want to be one of the few who takes action to make exceptional education available to everyone.”

Jennifer Ortiz
Gainesville, FL
TFA Miami-Dade 2019

“It is a personal acknowledgment and commitment on my behalf to dedicate effort towards educational enrichment among underserved communities. This commitment extends beyond my tenure with TFA to a lifetime of giving and being part of a community of alumni who care about something greater than themselves. I plan to pursue a legal education after TFA. I believe it is the ideal column of thought to solve educational inequity.”

Dimitrios Pemmaraju
Ithaca, NY
TFA Miami-Dade 2019
Miami-Dade Site Visit

“Over the past three years, while studying as an Integrated Educational Studies major, I repeatedly found myself becoming angry with the United States' education system. As I searched for ways to become involved in the education community, I began volunteering at an after school program where I discovered the dire need for education reform and passionate teachers in America. I am joining Teach for America because I want to remind the education world that teaching is a passion, not a paycheck.”

Sara Sosnowski
Boulder, CA
TFA Miami-Dade 2019
Site Visit 7