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ASU hosts highly-rated Teach For America institute

August 05, 2009

A year ago, Meredith Boyd graduated from the University of Dayton with a degree in business and with plans to become a human resources professional. Today, she is working as a fourth grade teacher at Morris K. Udall School near downtown Phoenix and participating as an induction leader to help train new teachers as part of the Teach For America Phoenix Institute.

Boyd joined Teach For America (TFA), a national program that places promising recent college graduates who commit to teach for at least two years in underserved public schools. Through a partnership with Arizona State University’s College of Teacher Education and Leadership, hundreds of TFA recruits participate in a rigorous and highly regarded teacher training institute.

This year, ASU hosted about 600 recent college graduates from prestigious universities including Harvard, Berkeley, Cornell, Gonzaga and ASU who participated in TFA’s highly-rated Phoenix Institute. While teaching summer school to elementary students in the Agua Fria and Roosevelt districts, corps members used ASU’s Tempe campus as home base, staying in residence halls and utilizing the university’s classrooms, dining services and recreational facilities.

This is the second year that ASU has hosted TFA’s teacher training institute. “Because of the success of its inaugural year, ASU was awarded a three-year contract to host the Phoenix Institute,” says Heather Carter, director of community partnerships and special projects for the College of Teacher Education and Leadership (CTEL.) “We collaborate with more than 20 ASU departments to ensure the institute’s success, including both academic and student service areas.”

Based on survey responses of corps members who attended the Teach For America 2008 Phoenix Institute, which was one of six institute sites across the country, it was the highest rated summer program in several operational areas. About 87 percent of corps members gave high marks to its efficiency and overall logistics, making the 2008 Phoenix Institute the highest rated training site on this measure of success in 2007 and 2008. This year was no exception; once again the 2009 Phoenix Institute beat its own best record and all historical records with a 91 percent satisfaction with logistics.

This year’s Phoenix Institute was held from June 14 to July 18. The TFA corps members days were filled with teaching summer school to children during the first part of the day and participating in clinics and training during the latter part. TFA corps members participating in the Phoenix Institute will teach this fall in the Phoenix area, Greater New Orleans, New Mexico and South Louisiana.

Boyd is starting her second year as a corps member. “I love TFA. For me, it is a perfect fit,” she says.

“Hosting the Teach For America corps members for their training institute builds upon our strong partnership to provide TFA members the opportunity to earn their master’s degree in education with a tailored program that includes clinical and classroom support,” says Mari Koerner, dean of CTEL. “Best of all, both of our organizations share the goal of retaining outstanding college graduates of various academic majors in educational careers, and build upon their ongoing engagement and leadership in education beyond their two-year teaching assignment.”

Since 2007, ASU’s College of Teacher Education and Leadership has partnered with TFA to provide instruction to corps members leading to a master’s degree in education while they work serving as teachers in high need schools.

Classes are scheduled at convenient times for the corps members, and are offered throughout the two-year teaching assignment. Curriculum focuses on best practices derived from current research and innovative teaching strategies, while integrating the TFA corps members’ personal teaching experience.

Boyd is graduating from ASU with a master’s degree in elementary education in the fall. “I can’t imagine being a first year corps member without the classes. It’s a time commitment, but it’s clear that it is necessary.” Indeed, the majority of TFA Phoenix corps members participate in the CTEL degree program.

Last spring, 168 students comprised the first graduating class of TFA participants who earned master’s degrees in education from Arizona State University. There are currently 167 TFA students enrolled in the program.

After the training institute, TFA corps members will move to their assignments and start teaching. Those in Arizona will teach in school districts including Agua Fria, Creighton, Glendale Elementary, Littleton, Mesa, Roosevelt, Tolleson, University Public Schools and several charter schools.

What will Meredith Boyd do after she finishes her TFA commitment? She says she is definitely not moving back to Ohio. She likes the West. She says she plans to stay in the education realm. “I had an amazing group of students this year and great administrators at the school. My best moment was getting the kids’ test scores back at the end of the year. I pulled each of the kids aside to talk with them about their accomplishments,” says Boyd with a big smile and tears in her eyes. “Most kids did significantly better.”

The College of Teacher Education and Leadership, through collaboration with educational and civic communities, prepares and inspires innovative educators to be leaders who apply evidence-based knowledge that positively impacts students, families, and the community.