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The Daily Tar Heel

More UNC alumni in Teach For America


UNC is yet again climbing the ranks, and this time it’s for teaching younger generations.

In a report released Wednesday, UNC tied as the third-largest contributor to Teach For America, with a total of 75 students in 2012.

The program places recent college graduates as teachers in low-income schools for two years.

Florence Matthews, a recruitment manager for Teach For America, said UNC’s participation has been increasing due to word-of-mouth advertising.

“(Students) hear from their friends’ first-year experience, and they learn about the severity of the crisis in our country that is the education system,” she said.

“And they see their friends impacting that, and they see their friends changing lives, and they want to be part of that.”

Matthews said she focuses her recruiting at UNC because of the University’s emphasis on leadership and students’ skills.

“They see that they can transfer the skills they gained at Carolina to benefit the students,” she added.

Matthews said 355 UNC students applied for Teach For America in 2012.

Teach For America participant Zach De La Rosa, who graduated from UNC in May, was placed in Texas and is teaching Algebra I and a remedial math course for 10th grade students.

“I provide tutorials every morning and every afternoon,” he said. “This morning when I arrived at 7:15, I think there were 12 kids at my door, and my school usually begins at 8 o’clock. When people arrive early, it’s a nice feeling.”

De La Rosa said his entire experience has been positive.

He added that the aim of the organization is that every child will have the opportunity for an excellent education.

“There’s not any easy solution to these kinds of problems, but you solve it one child and one classroom at a time,” he said.

Jacquelyn Gist, an assistant director at University Career Services who liaises with Teach For America, said the program is for everyone, not just future teachers.

“I think that’s why they’re so successful at Carolina, because we have so many students who are very focused on social change and social justice issues.”

Gist said students can meet with career counselors to work on applications. The organization has five staggered application deadlines, ending with Feb. 15.

“If you become a teacher, and you stay a teacher, they’re really happy, that’s fantastic,” she said.

“But their main goal is to create the next generation of leaders who are committed to closing the achievement gap.”

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