The Greater Delta network is one of the most expansive in Teach For America. Take the next steps on your career path in a region with high hopes and deep roots.
The Greater Delta is a place that will steal your heart with its generous atmosphere, friendly faces, and unforgettable landscapes. The close bonds you will form with students and neighbors, fellow educators, and school leaders, as well as staff and alumni, provide a unique and supportive environment for you to empower and illuminate student brilliance.
Becoming a part of a vibrant and connected community is truly a distinctive feature of life in the Greater Delta. Any outing to the grocery store or weekday game will inevitably connect you with someone that you know. Any given Saturday may be spent with local enthusiasts of your favorite pastimes, whether that’s participating in a fun-run, enjoying barbecue or tamales, listening to homespun blues, or enjoying the outdoor attractions of the Mississippi River or numerous state parks.
Many of our corps members have always called the Greater Delta home. Others were attracted by the opportunity to serve in a place with such a rich history on the front lines of the fight for educational equity. While here, you’ll join the legacy of the Little Rock Nine, who focused the eyes of the nation on the South’s homegrown pioneers of educational equity, and the Freedom Schools in Mississippi, which mobilized over 1,000 volunteers to register black voters and teach in local communities. Regardless of where you are from, if you are looking to contribute to something much larger than yourself, the Greater Delta is the place for you.
Our partners frequently cite their appreciation for the energy and enthusiasm that Teach For America corps members bring to their communities. If you are passionate about leading an after-school program, coaching a sports team, or someday founding your own organization beyond the classroom, you will find the Greater Delta to be a fertile environment for your dreams to take root and grow.
As a result of your two years being deeply involved, joining with local communities and coalitions, and pushing yourself to lead a rigorous and culturally responsive classroom, we can guarantee your heart will forever be tied to the students of the Greater Delta, and their limitless potential.
High school graduation rate in Mississippi; 84% high school graduation rate in Arkansas
Average composite ACT score for Arkansas 2017 graduates
Greater Delta at a Glance
Clarksdale, Mississippi, is known as the home of the blues—some legends suggest that the famous crossroads where Robert Johnson sold his soul are on the edge of town. Live music still echoes from “juke joints” nearly every night; every April, thousands of international tourists arrive in town for one of the state’s biggest blues festivals, with musicians playing in the town’s impressive array of art galleries and restaurants. Challenges remain: economic opportunities are limited and de facto segregation persists. But over the past decade, community members, including corps members and alumni, have launched important ventures that help sustain the beating heart of this legendary region.
Nestled on the banks of the mighty Mississippi, Greenville is a literary haven and home to numerous authors, as well as Mississippi’s fourteenth largest school district. After five decades of outmigration, Greenville is poised for rebirth. New leadership, a growing arts community, and a burgeoning population of young professionals ensure a bright future. Many alumni and corps members live and teach in Greenville, where they take pride in the city's people, history, and, of course, its food (the town hosts a Mississippi Delta Hot Tamale Festival each October).
Jackson, as the state’s largest city, is a center for art, culture, food—and politics. Much of the work to reform the state’s education system is centered here, at the state capitol, including an ongoing discussion about the state’s new charter schools. An affordable city, Jackson has attracted waves of artists and chefs, especially to the Fondren neighborhood, which hosts a monthly block party and houses many of the state’s finest restaurants.
Rural Quitman County, one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s stops on the Poor People’s Campaign, faces the same issues as many of Mississippi’s farming communities: mechanization has decimated the number of farm jobs available; the population has plummeted; and many of those who remain—nearly a third—live in poverty.
Yet its schools are thriving. More than 90 percent of Quitman County third graders passed the new elementary reading test last year, matching statewide averages—and showing marked improvement over recent years. Despite its rural location and a statewide teacher shortage, the county’s high school has attracted a highly qualified staff.
What makes the difference? An investment in leadership and community. For years, school leaders, including our alumni, have been intentional about building a strong culture of collaboration and support between students and teachers. In preparation for the reading test, Principal Cynthia Guynes mobilized teachers and instructional coaches to increase the amount and rigor of reading instruction. The school has also received ongoing support from the Barksdale Reading Institute, an organization committed to improving public education in Mississippi. There is also a local culture of excellence; when educational issued are being discussed by politicians, parents and families show up to advocate for their students—and for the positive changes being made.
Helena-West Helena, a town of 11,000 people on the skirts of the Mississippi River, is a warm and vibrant community. Helena boasts both a traditional public school district, Helena-West Helena Public Schools, and a charter school system, KIPP Delta Public Schools, and Teach For America has long partnered with each in its efforts to ensure their children have access to rigorous and enriching educational opportunities.
Beginning with its first corps in 1991, corps members and alumni have become valued and active members of this incredible community with many moving into school leadership positions. Many have chosen to make Helena their long-term home while others, like Michelle Kuo, author of Reading With Patrick, continue to draw inspiration and learnings from their two years here even after moving away. Helena is truly a unique place to live and teach.
From local start-up programs for new entrepreneurs to the monthly Cherry Street Fair to the famous annual King Biscuit Blues Festival, Helena is a town in its renaissance and reflects so many of the opportunities you can find in the Arkansas Delta.
Across the river from Greenville, Mississippi is Lake Village, home of the longest standing educator in Arkansas. Joyce Vaught not only has well over seventy years in the field – 23 of which spent as superintendent - but almost singlehandedly integrated the schools in Lake Village, to help ensure that all children had access to the resources they deserve. In the wake of her leadership, our corps advocate for students with innovative academic and extracurricular initiatives in the Lake Village community.
Marianna, located in Lee County, is our oldest placement area and one of our smallest communities. Our teachers have lived and worked in Marianna for 25 years, taking initiative in and outside the classroom with coaching sports teams, starting after-school clubs, and organizing college visits for students. With a population of 3,500, Marianna is situated on the edge of St. Francis National Forest, is home to James Beard award-winning Jones Bar-B-Que, and is a short drive to Memphis.
Lee County is deeply committed to education. Starting in 2017 they established a partnership with Forward Arkansas with the purpose of strengthening their teacher pipeline from within the community.
The King’s Daughters and Sons Circle Number Two
The King’s Daughters and Sons Circle Number Two is the oldest organized charity in Greenville, Mississippi. For over 100 years, the organization has supported the diverse communities of the Mississippi Delta. This year, the organization, recognizing the impact of our work, is sponsoring three local teachers in Washington County.
An electric utility that serves 45 counties across the state, Entergy aims to improve the quality of life in its service region through strategic investments in education. Over two years, Entergy has provided $70,000 in support of our efforts to train our teachers in the most up-to-date techniques in literacy instruction—one of the most pressing issues in education in Mississippi—as well as to help us provide ongoing coaching to all of our in-region alumni teachers.