Friday, September 14, 2012

Teachers from elsewhere give hope in Eastern Ky.

TFA's Liz Selden teaches math
(Photo by Amy Wallot, Ky. Dept. of Ed.)
Teach for America, which for 20 years has been placing top students from top colleges in low-income school districts, placed its first teachers in Appalachia only a year ago. The program is expanding, and now has 36 teachers in 20 schools in 11 Eastern Kentucky counties.

This relatively small group of young teachers in Eastern Kentucky is stirring hope that their sharp minds, youthful energy, diverse backgrounds and fresh perspectives will inspire their students, their colleagues, school officials and their communities to dream bigger dreams and achieve more of them, raising the region's education levels, attracting brighter students to teaching and boosting the chronically poor region's economy.

And because most of the traditional teachers in the 11 counties are natives who went to the nearest college, the coming of TFA has put traditional teacher-preparation programs under pressure to improve, and focused fresh attention on teacher quality and effectiveness.

All these topics and more are explored in four stories written for the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues by its first iHigh writer in residence: John James Snidow, an Eastern Kentucky native who earned a Harvard University degree in economics with honors and is now at Yale Law School. To read the stories, click here.

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