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Life as a Corps Member

Southwest Ohio Corps Members Start School

As the new school year starts and corps members are heading into their classrooms for the first day of school, we take a look at how they got here and some of the stories that have already started to unfold.

A picture of the 2019 Southwest Ohio corps members

August 29, 2019

With the beginning of the new school year, the Teach For America Southwest Ohio corps is back in the classroom getting introduced to their new students. A total of 48 corps members have gone into 25 partner schools, where they will affect the lives of more than 2,400 students. Among them are 24 first-year corps members, who are joining us from all around the country to help positively influence the students of Cincinnati, Dayton, and Covington, Kentucky.

Our first-year corps members have been training for their time in their classroom since their induction at the end of May. They not only spent time learning about lesson planning, and ways to engage with their students, but also got involved in the community, volunteering for tornado relief in Dayton and at a community garden in Cincinnati. Their summer was spent at institute in Atlanta, working through a rigorous, intense training course to get them ready just to be in the classroom. This six-week program builds their knowledge of pedagogy, lesson planning, and classroom management. They also get their first experiences in front of a classroom.

Despite the challenges and nerves that come with their first week in the classroom, our first years have already started experiencing some of the little joys that lead so many of our alumni to dedicate themselves to education. For Andrea Mondragón-Rodríguez, a fourth and fifth grade English teacher at LEAP Academy in Cincinnati, her first moment came when one of her students wasn’t paying attention during a group activity. Andrea got her attention and let her know that it didn’t seem like she wanted to be a part of the lesson. Her student perked right up and said, “Oh no! Is that what it seems like?!” Then she came back over to join the class, eager to join her classmates and learn. This little moment of assessing a difficult situation and handling it with grace was one of Andrea’s first little victories in the classroom and will go a long way toward building trust and relationships with her students.

Our second-year corps members are already showing the huge strides they’ve made since their first day. They go into their classrooms with confidence and experience, excited to meet their new students and more aware of the little things they need for the year to be successful. Bri Snoddy, a third grade teacher at DECA Prep, has secured a TV-style projector to help circumvent the large structural pole that takes up a portion of her room after a year of advocating for her students. Melissa Sandahl, also at DECA Prep, transitioned from third to first grade and has realized just how different her new students’ attention spans are and has already started making the necessary adjustments.

This year is full of promise and possibility for all our corps members and their students. As they work closely with their coaches, their schools and principals, and their fellow teachers, we’re excited to see our impact continue to grow in Southwest Ohio!