Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Teach for America to hit Milwaukee schools soon

Teach for America, a nonprofit organization focused on eliminating gaps in education, received a $1 million donation this week from a Waukesha-based nonprofit organization to begin teaching in Milwaukee public schools.

The donation from the Kern Family Foundation takes two-thirds of the pressure off of Milwaukee schools, but roughly $450,000 still needs to be raised.

Foundation President Jim Rahn said Teach for America has a “proven record” of recruiting some of the nation’s finest teachers, which can help close some of the nation’s achievement gaps in Milwaukee’s public schools.

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“We know that talent is a key part of the success of any effort, whether it’s working in a classroom or leading a school or leading a district,” Rahn said. “So finding mega-gifted people is part of every organization’s challenge.”

If the full $2.8 million is raised by mid-October, TFA will be able to use the money to train 30 teachers next summer and have them in Milwaukee classrooms by the fall of 2009.

Garrett Bucks, Teach for America recruitment director in Madison, said it is about time the organization marked its presence in Wisconsin.

“It’s huge and imperative that Teach for America is finally placing teachers in the state with the largest achievement gap in the country,” Bucks said. “It brings us closer to fulfilling our mission in that sense.”

The University of Wisconsin provides a large number of participants to TFA, Bucks said, and he believes that a partnership with Milwaukee schools will raise more interest among UW students.

“Just from the informal conversations with students we’re literally seeing the level of interest in the program just double, especially with the ones from Milwaukee,” Bucks said.

Lauren Adams, a UW senior who plans on applying for a position in Teach for America, attended Milwaukee public schools from kindergarten through high school. 

Adams said she wants to “give back a little bit,” and that when she heard Teach for American and Milwaukee schools may be teaming up, the program sounded even better.

“It would just be crazy and fun and go back to where I started,” she said. “The district has a really bad rap, but it does produce some good kids like myself.”

Adams brought up the fact that Teach for America could be working with Milwaukee schools to some high school friends, and they also showed an interest in the program.

“It would mean a lot to me and go and work with those kids and see myself in those kids a little bit,” Adams said.

Students chosen receive free training and housing and are paid a full first-year salary from the district. Minimum requirements to apply for a position with Teach for America include a 2.5 GPA and a degree by May 2009. 

With a large pool of applicants to choose from, Bucks said it takes more than grades.

“We want to see that you’ve pushed yourself in the past,” Bucks said. “We want to see that you’ve pushed to do some really cool stuff.”

Teach for America is also seeking to expand the program to Minneapolis, Boston and Dallas.

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