CNN will soon air a documentary exploring the often hectic and stressful life of American teachers in some of the most challenged school systems in the United States. The documentary addresses all aspects of the Teach for America program.
Temple students attended a free screening of the documentary on Tuesday, Nov. 30, in Curtis Hall. The documentary depicts the harsh reality of the education system in American inner-city and rural schools.
Teach for America is a program dedicated to eliminating educational inequity. It places college graduates with degrees in various fields into low-income rural and urban communities to teach.
The program requires applications from those interested and measures are taken to accommodate their preferences such as the school district or age group they would like to be teaching. It also requires individuals to commit two years of service with the program and attended night classes to obtain their certification to teach.
Once in the program, teachers are not paid through Teach for America, but directly by the school districts. Teach for America is part of the AmeriCorps, the national service network, so participants in the program are eligible forbearance and interest paid on specific student loans. Other incentives are also offered to encourage enrollment in the program.
The screening was hosted by Colleen Hinds, a former participant in Teach for America.
“The documentary might make teaching look tough, but I would say that adjusting to your first year in the classroom and building trust with the students is the toughest part,” Hinds said. “Teaching can be the best struggle of your life but you have to have an open mind and commitment to relentlessly pursue education inequity.”
The documentary followed three teachers participating in Teach for America through their struggles and triumphs in three different school districts. It displayed the other skills needed to become a teacher, skills that are not always learned in the college classroom.
“My entire floor has no running water,” one teacher said, and others had to overcome students’ gaps in education from fourth, fifth, and sixth grade.
The CNN documentary was not meant to scare off potential teachers, but some students said that the documentary was too “real”. Others said it was just the facts of life in low-income schools.
“I think some classrooms are unorganized because there is a lack of class management,” said senior Tiffany Cabarrus. “I live here in Philadelphia and I see there is a need for people who have the heart and patience to teach inner city students”
Ezechial Thurman, a teacher for the Philadelphia public school system, also attended the screening and is aware of the challenges teachers face.
“I think that anyone looking to get into teaching but is not certified to give Teach for America a serious look…it’s clear from the video that they [Teach for America] are striving to support their teachers although some are struggling,” Thurman said.
Since opening in 1990, Teach for America has had 12,000 individuals undergo the teaching process and now the program has 22 regional sites across the county. Anyone interested in Teach for America can visit the website www.teachforamerica.orgor contact the Philadelphia Office directly at 215-299-2414 or by fax at 215-299-2425.
Courtney Makupson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.