Connecticut ED Nate Snow On Reaching Students in Bridgeport and Windham

Insight into how our teachers are working with communities.

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Friday, August 30, 2013
Nate Snow is the ED of Teach For America - Connecticut
I lead the team in Connecticut that works with our partners to understand where they believe corps members could be most needed and helpful in our communities’ broader efforts to give every child a world-class education. We're proud of the work that our educators are doing alongside many other dedicated educators in our state. We are committed to preparing our teachers well, supporting their growth, learning and improving each year, and serving as an ongoing partner that is responsive to the needs of our communities.

It is in this spirit, that I wanted to address recent questions about how our teachers are hired, our size and partnerships in certain communities, and our teachers’ personal and educational backgrounds. We’re pleased to be providing our school partners and families an additional source of committed and talented educators who have an abiding faith in our students.

Here are some facts about our work in the state, in Bridgeport and Windham more specifically, and our incoming Connecticut corps: 

  • Teach For America – Connecticut is a state-approved alternate route to certification, meaning our teachers meet the same National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) standards of graduates from traditional preparation programs. 
  •  In Bridgeport, our corps members make up less than 5% of all teachers in district. This year, Bridgeport has hired more than 100 new teachers, 36 of whom are TFA corps members, and of those, 30 are teaching in hard-to-fill positions.  The district and principals are responsible for making all hiring decisions for open positions and our teacher candidates have gone through all of the required HR screens and principal interviews. The funds the district invests in TFA to help offset our recruit, training and professional development cost amounts to .06% of the district’s overall budget.
  •  In Windham, our corps members make up less than 10% of teachers in the district and this year seven first-year teachers were hired for open positions in the district. Similarly, the district and principals are responsible for making all hiring decisions. The funds Windham invests in TFA to help offset our teacher recruitment and development cost amounts to .2% of the district’s overall budget.
  • According to the Capitol Region Education Council, nearly one third of our state’s public school students are African American or Latino, while only 3% of teachers are. In Bridgeport, more than 25% of teachers are people of color. We are committed to providing our school partners with one source of diverse teaching talent with strong roots in our state. One-third of our incoming corps members have ties to Connecticut—either born-and-raised, or went to college here.  We’re also excited to see increasing levels of diversity in our corps -- over 30% of our teachers are people of color and over 35% come economic backgrounds similar to those of the students we work with every day.

All of these shed light on how we teach, what we teach, and who we are, but not the why.  The why is the fact that Connecticut is one of the wealthiest states in the nation, and yet there are pockets of unfathomable hardship and restricted possibilities, most often along lines of race and class. We will be the first to say that our efforts are only one part of what our communities are collectively working to do for our kids, but we're proud of the work our teachers do every day. We are also committed to constantly getting better, as we hope all of us are, because our kids deserve no less.  We feel lucky to have such tremendous partners in this work across our state and are deeply hopeful for what we will collectively achieve for our children.

Nate Snow joined Teach For America as a Connecticut corps member, teaching seventh and eighth grade English in Bridgeport. Since 2009, Nate has been a member of the Connecticut regional team and now serves as the regions' executive director. A graduate of Texas A&M University, Nate lives in Bridgeport with his wife and two children.

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