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EDUCATION REPORT – May 23, 2002: Teach for America - 2002-05-22

This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

Teach for America is one of the nation’s most successful educational programs. This year, a record fourteen-thousand recent college graduates have asked to join the program. More than one-thousand-seven-hundred young men and women will be chosen for their intelligence and strong personal skills. They will receive special training. Then they will teach children from poor families in schools in seventeen areas of the country. They will teach for two years.

A student at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, had the idea for Teach for America in nineteen-eighty-nine. Wendy Kopp recognized that children from poor families have more problems learning than other children do. She wrote a paper proposing a national teaching organization.

People soon supported her idea. Money from major companies helped launch the program. About five-hundred young people began teaching in the program in nineteen-ninety.Today, Mizz Kopp still leads the organization. Over the years, eight-thousand teachers in the program have taught more than one-million children.

Teach for America has received money from individuals, organizations, companies and the federal government.Money also comes from individuals and businesses in communities where the teachers work. Sometimes the Teach for America teachers organize events to help provide money for supplies for their classrooms. Many of their schools do not have enough money for supplies.

School officials praise the Teach for America teachers. Sixty percent of the teachers continue in educational work after finishing their two years. Most express satisfaction at having made a difference in children’s lives.

For example, Nicole Sherrin taught mathematics to teenage students in Phoenix, Arizona. When she began, her one-hundred-twenty students were the least successful students in the area. Mizz Sherrin developed ways to get her students to do well in math. She organized them into groups and gave them special things when all the members succeeded. She got to know her students and their families outside of school as a way of gaining their trust.

By the end of the year, two-thirds of her students performed at the highest level on a special math test.

This VOA Special English Education Report was written by Jerilyn Watson.