Students walking through Tillman Lobby could grab a free cup of hot chocolate and catch a film Thursday as part of Teach for America Day, while they learned about the national non-profit committed to creating education opportunities in impoverished areas.
Teach for America was established by Wendy Kopp in 1989. The idea originated from a thesis statement Kopp wrote as an undergraduate student at Princeton University, according to the organization’s website. The program sends college graduates pursuing a career in education to teach in schools in struggling areas for at least two years before graduate school.
“We started with 500 or so [teachers],” said Nafisa Chowdhury, a senior double-majoring in economics and history and one of three campaign coordinators on campus. “Next year we will have 10,000 teachers out there.”
Teach for America is designed to provide an “excellent education” to students growing up in poverty, recruiting potential applicants from colleges and universities nationwide.
Chowdhury said Teach for America Day is to remind students of the organization’s presence at Binghamton University.
“It’s a cold day, we figured we’d do something nice for people and let them know we’re at the career fair,” Chowdhury said. “If they ever need to contact us, we’re here on campus.”
Campus coordinators also hosted a screening of “Waiting for Superman,” a documentary based on the public education system in the U.S. More than 20 people showed up to the screening.
According to Chowdhury, Binghamton University is a great recruitment site for Teach for America.
“We’re trying to hone in on Binghamton students because as a top SUNY school, this is a big gold mine for opportunity for students who are really passionate about not just Teach for America, but advocacy,” Chowdhury said. “To see that this is a movement not just for teachers, but for the nation as a whole.”
Candidates for Teach for America must have at least a 2.5 GPA to qualify. Candidates are then subjected to a phone interview and an online activity. For the final interview, candidates create a five-minute lesson plan and teach it to their fellow applicants.
“We actually have a rising rate of professionals who choose to leave whatever industry they’re in to do Teach for America,” Chowdhury said.
Teach for America includes candidates from a wide variety of fields, according to Chowdhury.
“We have finance majors, pre-med, bio, pre-law,” Chowdhury said. “We also have computer science and STEM students. We look for everyone.”
Brandon Smith, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, said he was interested in the chance to help through Teach for America.
“I’ve always thought I’d do teaching, and I think it’s a good opportunity to help underprivileged kids,” Smith said.