The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Graduates enter in Teach for America

Three UW-Eau Claire graduates have been accepted into Teach For America, a highly selective program aiming to end educational inequity. The program recruits top college graduates of all majors for a two-year commitment to teach in underfunded and understaffed rural or urban schools.

Eau Claire graduates who began teaching this fall include Gina Livingston, a December 2007 graduate and Spanish major, Christopher Nielson, who graduated in May with a degree in political science and Rebecca O’Brien, who also graduated in May with majors in Latin American studies and biology. They are among six Eau Claire students to be accepted into the program.

Each graduate underwent a five-week training program to prepare them for their teaching assignment. Livingston, who attended her training in Houston, felt she couldn’t have been more ready to teach her students.

“It’s probably the most difficult thing I have ever done,” Livingston said of the training. “I feel like it was four years of education crammed into five weeks . I didn’t have a free moment but I left feeling like I was ready to teach . I was so prepared.”

Story continues below advertisement

Livingston began her two-year commitment as a second grade teacher at Cole Art and Science Academy in Denver. She strives to uphold “a sense of urgency” in the classroom, a phrase she adopted from TFA.

“I walk in there and feel like I can’t waste a minute,” she said. “If I’m not urgent in second grade, what’s going to happen by the time they’re in fifth grade?”

Livingston has seen firsthand the harsh realization of what it’s like in a school where students are on the wrong side of an achievement gap.

“The job itself is very eye-opening,” she said. “It’s so rewarding but so tough and sometimes it’s hard to take the reality . just the reality of the effects of poverty and not a whole lot of resources on kids.”

O’Brien also attended her training in Houston and is now a middle school science teacher in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

Nielson attended summer training in Philadelphia, and now teaches in its inner city as a ninth-grade remedial English teacher at Mastery Charter School/Pickett campus.

TFA lives by the fact that “education is our nation’s greatest injustice.” The program places its teachers in 29 regions around the nation, in both rural and urban areas, and continues to add more regions each year.

“It’s really focused on sites where schools are in dire need of help,” Don Mowry, director of service learning on campus said.

With such a variety of educational and professional backgrounds in its teachers, one of the goals of TFA is the hope that teachers will someday be able to make a difference in changing policies for educational inequity, Mowry said.

With this goal in mind, TFA recruits future leaders – those who will go on into fields such as business, politics, law, journalism, education, medicine and social policy. Many college graduates accepted to the program held leadership positions during their undergraduate careers, Mowry said.

With six graduates and counting participating in the TFA so far, Eau Claire is aiming to add more students to the movement. A representative will be visiting Eau Claire during the spring semester on Feb. 4 and 5 to talk with seniors about the program, which has ultimately become successful in its efforts.

“I think because of the expectations they put on us they see lots of good results,” Livingston said. “We’re here all for the students. It’s a great place to be and I’m glad I’m here.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

The Spectator intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. The Spectator does not allow anonymous comments and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
All The Spectator Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
Graduates enter in Teach for America