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Teach for America fights to end educational inequality

Stephanie Aberger | Tuesday, April 3, 2007

As a 2005 graduate of Notre Dame, I will complete my two-year commitment to Teach for America in June. Upon reflection of my two years of service teaching middle school social studies in New York City, I am overwhelmed by the growth I have witnessed in myself, and more importantly, in my students.

Like most corps members, I came to Teach for America with a healthy dose of idealism but little experience in the rigors of the classroom. Teach for America met my desire to be an agent of change in low-income schools with intense yet rewarding support and professional development. As a corps member I completed a five-week institute where I was mentored by a veteran teacher. Such mentorship ranged from direct instruction in pedagogical theory and praxis to feedback from the summer school lessons I taught. I left my five-week teacher training confident not only in my commitment to significant academic gains with my students but also in my abilities to achieve such results.

Teach for America’s support did not end with my summer preparations. Over the course of my two years of service, I received a Master’s degree in education and benefited from ongoing support via my Teach for America program director, regional staff, other corps members in my school and community, teaching toolkits and corps member learning teams as well as my school’s principal and veteran teachers.

From this support I found myself challenged to move beyond the complacent. Rather than simply survive in the classroom, I was guided to push my students to meaningful, data-driven gains. For me, Teach for America’s emphasis on the students is at the heart of its support. As I consider my years with Teach for America, there are many highlights: Mayor Bloomberg invited my class to a private audience in his office; a renowned New York City chef brought my class to his five-star restaurant for lunch; and CNBC commentator Donnie Deutsch is scheduled to visit my classroom.

Yet my biggest takeaway from my participation in Teach for America is that what matters most is the opportunity to ensure that my students attain an excellent education. My ability to measure and document my students’ success, guided by Teach for America, is my proudest accomplishment of the past two years. Now more than ever, I believe that all children, when given the opportunity, can excel. I encourage all future graduates of Notre Dame to consider how they might serve in the movement to end educational inequality.

Stephanie Aberger

alumna

Class of 2005

March 28