News and Events
Seaver College Graduates Teach for America
Of the 13 million American children growing up in poverty, about half will graduate from high school. They will perform, on average, at an eighth-grade level.
Twelve graduates of the Seaver College Class of 2008 are doing something to change this through Teach for America (TFA), an organization dedicated to addressing educational inequality in the United States. The Pepperdine graduates join some 5,000 TFA corps members helping low-income students achieve at high levels in 26 urban and rural communities.
The program is both prestigious and selective, accepting only 21% of applicants nationwide. At Pepperdine, however, the acceptance rate climbed to 66% this year, a number that TFA recruitment director Annette Beebe calls "definitely significant."
"Pepperdine is a great overall fit with Teach for America," Beebe notes. "Students are really driven to make an impact after college and change the lives of others."
Meet some of Seaver College graduates who will join Teach for America this year.
Major: International Studies
Hometown: Andover, Ohio, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Placement location: Elementary School in Connecticut
Future goals: Start my own international NGO; law or business school
His motivation to teach: "My middle school and high school both received "D" grades by the state while I was there. If not for the encouragement of a select few teachers, I may not have cared about college. I'm excited by the opportunity to teach children life values that are much more important than fractions or spelling-values such as respect, honesty, integrity, and perseverance. Although I can't say that I will leave the school with every student caught-up or ahead in standardized test levels, I do expect to have many stories of overcoming obstacles and finding success."
Major: Political Science and Religion
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Placement: High School Social Studies in Miami, Florida
Future Goals: Law school or graduate school in political science
A teacher who made a difference: "I'll never forget Mr. Heermann, my fifth grade teacher at Hoover Elementary School. I remember vividly how dedicated he was to providing his students with a quality education. Mr. Heermann used to travel by public transportation an hour away from his home because he believed he could make a greater impact in an underprivileged school in inner city Los Angeles. He invested a lot of his energy and personal resources to making sure we received a quality education and were inspired to succeed. I hope to make a similar long-lasting impact on the students I will teach and mentor."
Major: Psychology, Social Work Minor
Hometown: Plymouth, Massachusetts
Placement: Elementary School in Connecticut
Future Goals: Master's degree in education, school administration, or social work
A special moment in the classroom: "Bryant, a little boy in my Jumpstart classroom, had not spoken a single word all year long except "sí," and I knew that his parents only spoke Spanish to him. We used special song charts with lyrics and pictures everyday during circle time and one day I held up the song chart for "Sam Mouse." I asked the children to tell me what song we would be singing. Usually, it was the same three or four children that always shouted out the answer, but this time, out of nowhere, I heard a little voice cry, "MOUSE!" Bryant's face when that word came out of his mouth was just priceless. He was so proud that he knew what song we were going to sing and he was beaming all day. After that day, we could never get Bryant to stop talking."
Major: Political Science
Hometown: Corona, California
Placement: Middle School English in South Louisiana
Future Goals: Graduate school in urban studies or public policy
Why he's inspired to teach: "I see teaching in an underserved area as a great challenge. I was lucky enough to have consistently impactful, professional, and motivating teachers as a youth. I know I was much more fortunate than any of the children I will be teaching. This both inspires me to work hard for them and makes me grateful for my privileged past. I'm excited to provide the students with a caring, dedicated mentor."
Major: Psychology, Social Work Minor
Hometown: Hinsdale, Illinois
Placement: Biology Grades 6-12 in the Mississippi Delta
Future Goals: Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology
The excitement of teaching: "I want my students to realize that they are as talented and smart as everyone else. Ultimately, I would love to see several of my kids go on to college. I tutored in high school and coached Odyssey of the Mind, an international creative problem solving competition. One year, I coached 28 kids to the world finals. Now the kids are in high school, and we see each other over breaks and on Facebook. Making a difference and the personal connection with my students is the most exciting piece of teaching.
Major: Sports Medicine, Spanish Minor
Hometown: Costa Mesa, California
Placement: General Science Grades 4-8 in Rio Grande Valley, Texas
Future Goals: Master's in Public Health
The product of great teachers: "As a first generation college student, I know that I wouldn't have gotten this far without the encouragement of my teachers. Education opens doors to self-awareness, understanding, and competence. I want to be able to share this with students and as a source of motivation and a role model, be able to connect with them on a deeper level and relate socio-economically and culturally. Teaching is a profession where one's creativity can flourish without restrictions. I am excited to be creative in the way I teach and through this, hope to inspire creativity among my students."
Major: Organization Communication and Religion
Hometown: Tinton Falls, New Jersey
Placement location: Special Education Grades 1-8 in New York City
Future Goals: Graduate school; law school
A brand new perspective: "As the director of Pepperdine's Step UP Employment Training Seminar, an employment training seminar for incarcerated youths, I have seen kids in detention facilities tap into untouched talent. One time in particular, a guy named Tommy realized that his ability to manage sport statistics for a baseball team translates into the ability to work with computer databases and finance. A subtle, but significant light showed in his eyes for just a second. I will never forget this burst of hope and realization that I saw in Tommy's eyes."
Major: Intercultural Communications
Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Placement: Elementary/Middle School in Los Angeles, California
Future Goals: Continue to follow my heart
On relating to her students: "I was raised in the inner city and have a personal interest in helping those in this community. I have seen firsthand some of the disparities and challenges people from these communities have to endure, and I strongly relate to their stories. I hope to be known as a dedicated, loyal, and enthusiastic teacher to my students. I hope to be a teacher who builds up the students' confidence, self-worth, and belief in improving themselves and the world. The vast majority of the students will be performing at a lower level than their peers in other, more prosperous schools. As such, one of the major goals will be to bring up their performance level to that of their grade-level standard, or even exceed that standard."
Since its inception in 1990, the Teach for America network has grown to include more than 17,000 individuals, including many Pepperdine alumni. Are you one of them? Tell us your story.