Sunday, November 6, 2011

Reflection on TFA Founder Wendy Kopp’s Visit to Georgetown

By Allyson Lynch

I managed to snatch one of the last available seats in Copley Formal Lounge, which was filled with people waiting to hear from Wendy Kopp, Founder and CEO of Teach For America.  As someone interested in post-graduation work in education, I was beyond excited to be present at this event.  One topic brought up over the course of the evening related to the fact that many TFA teachers do not end up pursuing teaching as their permanent career.  This comment immediately caught my attention, because, were I to participate in a program like Teach For America, I would most likely end up in this group.  I have wanted to become a doctor since I was 12, so imagine my surprise when I came to Georgetown, joined DC Reads somewhat casually, and ended up just as engrossed and fascinated by educational issues as much as I was by the prospect of going to medical school...
Therefore, for the past three years, I have struggled with my non-compatible interests in both fields and wondered how to reconcile them.  What would be the point of doing a program like TFA if not to become a teacher eventually?  I would end up in this former TFA “non-teacher” group.  And according to Wendy Kopp, that is great.  As she put it, having experienced teaching and its challenges, especially in the schools TFA teaches in, is a valuable experience that can go a long way in changing things in the future for education, regardless of whether you end up an actual teacher.  The people who have experiences like that of TFA under their belt need to be in all other sectors, not just education.  When people who know what post-TFA teachers know go into other professions, they can help articulate the scope of the issues that face our education system, leading to a more universal understanding of why change is necessary, which can only help fix schools in America.  It was an inspiring message, especially for those of us that may still be undecided about our future career paths; even having had experience as tutors in DC Reads gives us the voice to impart change in education regardless of where our future takes us.  

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