Hey everyone! Here is a rough draft of the letter I am going to be sending out for TFA. Email me what you think about it with suggestions, kudos, grammar/punctuation fixes, etc. Thanks!
p.s. I had to edit out my name and town name for some protection purposes.
Country roads, one gas station towns, class sizes less then 15, and business closing times around 5PM - are just a few of the shocks that came with moving to the Mississippi Delta. At first, the thought of surviving these types of road blocks were difficult to overcome, now it is just part of the day to day mix we each push through. My name is Caitlin Butler, and I am a 2009 Teach for America Corps Members, placed in [town], Arkansas and part of the Mississippi Delta Corps.
Perhaps the most eye opening part of this movement and experience is the student’s ability to push through adversity. Students reading at an average of 5 years behind their grade level are achieving every day in the classroom because of their personal motivation. What a powerful concept. Self respect and determination driving success, not money, not economical class, not privilege. Petrified of my End of Course English III exam scores, I felt like there was a mountain to climb to get to any level of measurable success. And yes, maybe I was right - there definitely was a mountain - but where I was wrong was what type of mountain. Students in my classroom these past two years have the desire inside of them to succeed. Now, it is simply putting the tools in their hands and empowering them.
Perhaps my largest success in the classroom each day has been investment. I have had the opportunity to have the best students in the Delta in my classroom each day. Because of this fact - I can’t stop loving them each day! We may disagree and get annoyed with each other, but these students have become my number one. As a result they are just as committed to the goals we have in the classroom as I am. Last year we had students answer every single open response and essay question, something that has not happened at [town] in 5 years. We went from 21% completion of open response questions to 100%. Students understood where they were going and how they needed to get there.
This impact has gone far beyond my classroom though. Now with seven Teach for America teachers at [town] High School we have seen the biggest math score gains in Southeastern Arkansas, an actual Spanish teacher instead of distance learning instructor, reaching the national standard of Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) in middle school literacy, and the first Biology teacher in 5 years to last more then 1 year. All of these accomplishments are positive. All of these accomplishments are directly from Teach for America.
Please continue to support this movement in [town] and far beyond this. When I coach basketball in our district there are 5 Teach for America teachers involved out of 10 schools. Let’s grow this to each and every town. The students are responding, and so must we! Teach for America for the win!