News and Events
Pepperdine Graduates Work to Close the Education Gap in America
When considering educational equality in America, Pepperdine senior Kelly Noland ('09), recalls the story of an adolescent boy, taken to Harvard University on a class trip by his Teach for America (TFA) teacher, Josh Dickinson.
So awed by the chance Harvard students have to further themselves through education, the boy told his teacher that he would one day be a Harvard student himself. "Even as a Teach for America teacher, it is hard to imagine some of these kids making it to college, let alone one as prestigious as Harvard," Noland says.
As social action and justice intern at the Pepperdine Office of Intercultural Affairs, Noland organized a convocation event earlier this month called, "Amazing Grace: Closing the Education Gap in America," for students at Pepperdine to learn more about TFA.
A non-profit organization that trains graduates to teach for two years in lower income schools, Teach for America's mission is to end the inequality found in schools across America. The purpose is to inspire children who might not have the academic and emotional support system they need to succeed in education.
Noland invited alumni, John Crabtree ('07) and Andy Canales ('08), who shared their experiences as part of TFA with nearly 340 students.
"On a Christian campus, it is extremely easy to find ways to serve God," Noland explains. "After graduation, those opportunities will not be as readily available to us. Teach for America is an opportunity to combine a career with service to underprivileged students in the United States."
Students at the event were full of questions about how TFA works. A concern for many was that. with no prior education training, they would struggle in a classroom setting in a troubled neighborhood. Canales and Crabtree addressed these concerns; TFA independently trains its representatives, and provides support on every step of the journey.
"Many students across America do not graduate high school with reading or math skills above a typical eighth grader. They do not often have teachers or family who believe in them," says Noland. "With TFA representatives, they have a teacher who believes in them, and they get six hours everyday of care, hope, and investment in their future."
And what of the boy who made that proclamation several years ago to his TFA teacher? "Josh was able to update us on the student's story: The boy just enrolled as a freshman at Harvard, and will graduate in 2012."
For more information about TFA, visit the Teach for America Web site. For more information about the Office of Intercultural Affairs here at Pepperdine University, visit the ICA Web site.