Over intercession, I had the pleasure of working in the Recruitment department at Teach For America headquarters in New York, New York. For two days during the break, my fellow Princetern and I were given the ability to meet numerous Teach For America employees and work on a TFA marketing campaign specialized for Princeton’s campus. For me, I went into this trip curious about how a good teacher is chosen. As a teacher prep student, I have been trying to understand what are the characteristics and ways of thinking of great teachers. The Teach For America mission thrives on picking undergraduates who will be great teachers. The first two years of teaching are infamously difficult, and the fact that TFA corps members primarily serve during their first two years of teaching is significant. Teach For America has to choose people who will be great teachers, and I was curious to see how the organization did so.
Over the course of my two days, I was able to find out the answers to my questions very quickly. The very first day that me and my Princetern partner walked into the office we were met with people passionate about the Teach For America vision, and wiling to answer any questions, hesitations, and ideas we had about the organization. I learned that Teach For America looks for potential amazing teachers from many different backgrounds. They seek people who can relate to the diverse students they have—a diversity that includes so many aspects. They seek leaders, those who are able to work with people, determined, persistent, and diligent. These characteristics make perfect sense for the mission of the organization, and it gave me a new perspective of what goes into a good teacher. Throughout my two days, I definitely consider these conversations with the members of Teach For America the most valuable. I was able to see the organization from the perspective of those working for it. I saw how the organization is trying to spread awareness of the things that need to be fixed in the education system, and how recruiting corps members to go into high-needs schools gives these corps members a sensitivity and connection to education reform. I can only respect that mission and the Teach For America efforts.
In addition, the work environment at Teach for America very much aligned with its mission. Teach For America is a young determined organization with innovative ideas, and the work environment at the headquarters is definitely youthful and modern. There were exercise balls that replace typical office desks all around the office, numerous colorful lounge areas, and cute wall displays. The majority of workers seemed to be in their 20’s or early 30’s, and were diverse in many ways. Nonetheless, the work climate was very effective and focused.
Overall I am very grateful that I was able to go on this trip. I learned a lot about the organization and gained a lot of respect for the organization. Thank you to Sylvia Monreal, Alex Krupp, Joseph Picini, and Sumin Lee for organizing our Princeternship and helping us throughout it!