Each year, more than 40,000 college seniors and professionals apply for the Teach For America (TFA) program. A select few individuals are then given the opportunity to pack up their belongings, move across the country and spend the next two years teaching students in a randomly selected public school.
Two Linfield education majors, Noelle Beesley and Lori McEwen, and psychology major Kadi White are among the few applicants who were accepted by TFA for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years.
The women began the competitive and nerve-wracking three-part application process in December 2012 and received notification of acceptance into the program March 2013.
The first round consisted of submitting a completed application, letter of intent and resume to the TFA program. Next, the applicants underwent a 40-minute telephone interview with current TFA members and alumni. The final round was held in Portland, Ore., and required the applicants to teach lessons, engage in group discussions and meet with a final interviewer.
After the final round, the applicants anxiously awaited their acceptance letters. Two weeks later, Beesley, White and McEwen had been invited to join the TFA program following graduation.
Beesley will be relocating to South Carolina, McEwen will be moving to Memphis, Tenn., and White will be moving to the Mississippi Delta in June to begin a five-week training program before school begins in the fall.
McEwen became interested in TFA through a former Phi Sigma Sigma Sorority sister, Audrey Germer, who currently teaches in Phoenix, Ariz.
Her mother was a teacher so she realized at a young age that she wanted to follow in her footsteps.
Marilyn Salter, a visiting professor at Linfield, has encouraged McEwen to let her personality shine through teaching. McEwen is excited to be a full-time teacher.
“The students I love working with the most are the ones who need a positive role-model,” McEwen said. “I love being that for them.”
Beesley took advantage of the opportunity to work for TFA because she wants to be a part of a social justice organization and help change education systems.
Growing up, Beesley was inspired by her second grade teacher, Mr. Wiersma.
“He made me feel like I was needed in the classroom,” Beesley said. “Like I was important, and like I was valued as a learner in his class. He always remembered me, cracked jokes and set himself up as a positive role model I could turn to as a learner.”
She hopes to pass this feeling on to her students during her time in South Carolina and in her future with teaching.
For White, TFA is a bit of a different experience being a psychology major.
“The great aspect of TFA is that it doesn’t require you to have a degree in education,” she said. “I applied because it gives me the opportunity to make a change that means something and makes long and short term differences.”
Although White does not have education experience, she is excited for what the Mississippi Delta has in store for her.
All three seniors enjoy helping others in need. TFA emphasizes not only educating children, but also making a direct impact on students’ lives.
Sarah Mason/Features editor
Sarah Mason can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org