APU Is a Teach for America Top Contributor for 2019

by Heather Nelson

For the second year in a row, Azusa Pacific University was named a Teach for America (TFA) top contributor.

This past summer, 14 APU alumni joined the 2019 TFA corps, committing to teach in under-resourced schools for two years. Together with more than 3,100 individuals, these graduates will help impact 51 regions across 36 states and the District of Columbia.

During their time in the classroom, the alumni will work toward closing the achievement gap for students in communities that lack resources and opportunities, where schools aren’t always equipped to meet student needs. In doing so, they’ll help transform the education system.

Impacting Students’ Lives as a TFA Corp Member

Many graduates who join Teach for America come from non-education backgrounds, so the organization makes a point to equip each teacher with the skills and tools they need for success. Starting with a six-week intensive summer training program—which includes student teaching—TFA also pairs each future teacher with a coach who guides them along their journey to becoming an educator. This coach, along with TFA staff and fellow teachers, supports the new teacher to ensure their growth and impact in the classroom.

Scott Jacob ’14 joined Teach for America in 2016. During his time in the corp, he taught English Language Arts to 10th-graders on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. After teaching at Wai’anae High School for three years, Jacob described feeling an overwhelming sense of pride as he watched his first class of students walk across the graduation stage and receive their diplomas.

“After three years of roadblocks, triumphs, tears, and laughter, I waded through the sea of smiling faces to embrace each scholar,” Jacob noted. “That was the day that I knew I had made a positive impact in the lives of those kids.”

Stepping into the Classroom and Making a Difference

For the 14 APU alumni who are starting their first year of teaching, Jacob offered a few words of advice. He said that in addition to working tirelessly to provide students with a well-rounded education, it’s important to be easy on themselves when issues arise.

“Our students deserve your very best—but be easy on yourself when big problems come your way with no easy solution,” Jacob advised. “Chip away at larger issues with the tools that TFA provides. Plan lessons that will challenge kids to look at the world in a different light. Curate literature that gives students a more tangible voice. Revamp the curriculum and break educational barriers by whatever means necessary. But be gentle with yourself when things get hard, and they will. You are more than capable to make a change, and to carry on this fight. Never lose sight of that fact.”

Now, as a TFA recruitment manager, Jacob regularly encourages soon-to-be graduates to consider how they can make an impact in the classroom. He noted that TFA gives individuals the chance to make a difference in others’ lives while becoming stronger, more adept professionals.

When speaking with candidates, Jacob said he usually tells them, “I have countless stories I can share with you about my experience and those of my fellow educators, but how about you create some for yourself?”

Are you interested in creating your own stories of change in the classroom? The Career Center at Azusa Pacific University is proud to partner with Teach for America. Contact career@apu.edu for more details and learn how you can join the next class of teachers.