Teach For America expanding to Appalachia

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Will Nash, executive director of Teach For America-Appalachia, announces Teach For America's plan to expand to Appalachia during a press conference April, 7, 2011 in Frankfort, Ky. The organization plans to bring at least 30 additional teachers in each of the next two years to the region. Photo by Amy Wallot
Will Nash, executive director of Teach For America-Appalachia, announces Teach For America’s plan to expand to Appalachia during a press conference April, 7, 2011 in Frankfort, Ky. The organization plans to bring at least 30 additional teachers in each of the next two years to the region. Photo by Amy Wallot

Teach For America announced recently that it will expand to Appalachia, with plans to bring at least 30 top college graduates to teach in some of eastern Kentucky’s highest-need schools for the 2011-12 school year.

The organization also outlined plans to bring at least 30 additional teachers in each of the next two years to the Appalachia region.

Launching its 20th anniversary year last May, Teach For America recruits, trains and supports outstanding recent graduates and professionals who commit to teach for two years in under-resourced schools and become lifelong leaders in the pursuit of educational equity.

Competition is fierce among applicants. Last year, Teach For America fielded 4,500 new corps members from an applicant pool of more than 46,000.

Teach For America received nearly 48,000 applications for its 2011 corps, including more than 600 from individuals in Kentucky. Among the 8,200 current corps members teaching in urban and rural school districts across 31 states and the District of Columbia, 85 are from or attended school in Kentucky.

Teach For America selected Appalachia as an expansion site for the coming school year based on interest from state and school district leaders in collaborating with the organization to provide an additional pipeline of effective teachers to address the region’s significant achievement gap. Another determining factor was state legislation enacted last year that enables Teach For America corps members to obtain teacher certification.

Teach For America corps members will apply for open positions in high-need schools in the Floyd, Knox and Martin county school districts, and the organization will open a central office in Hazard. Teach For America will continue to pursue partnerships with additional school districts over the coming weeks.

A broad coalition of supportive community groups, corporations, local philanthropists and school leaders made the Appalachia region of eastern Kentucky an ideal location for Teach For America. Lead investors include Kentucky River Properties, Inez Deposit Bank, the Kentucky Department of Education, and philanthropists Edith Bingham, Molly Bingham, Eleanor Miller and Paul Chellgren.

A growing body of rigorous research demonstrates that Teach For America corps members are highly effective in the classroom. In 2010, the Tennessee State Board of Education found that Teach For America teachers in the state made a statistically significant, positive difference on student achievement in every evaluated subject, and had a greater impact on student achievement than other new teachers. A 2010 study from the University of North Carolina found that corps members added the equivalent of an extra half-year of learning in middle school mathematics. Additionally, a 2009 Urban Institute study found that high school students taught by Teach For America teachers outperformed their peers, even those taught by fully certified teachers.

Teach For America’s network includes more than 20,000 alumni across the country who are working from within education and every other professional sector to level the playing field for children and families in low-income communities.

Kentucky is home to nearly 50 Teach For America alumni. Nationally, more than 13,000 Teach For America alumni remain in education, with more than 550 serving as principals and school leaders.

In conjunction with the expansion announcement, Teach For America named Glasgow native Will Nash as the founding executive director of Teach For America-Appalachia. As a 2006 corps member in South Louisiana, Nash taught 6th- and 7th-grade mathematics and 8th-grade speech and drama in Baton Rouge. After teaching, Nash joined Teach For America’s staff, working to recruit top college graduates and professionals in Louisiana and Texas to join Teach For America. Nash holds a B.A. in political science and economics from the University of Kentucky, where he received the Otis Singletary Award for most outstanding male graduate in 2006. 

MORE INFO 

Rebecca Neale, Teach For America, at (202) 906-9207.

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