‘I want children to experience what I did growing up’
Two Southwestern students selected to serve in Teach for America after graduation
Growing up in the prosperous North Texas suburb of Plano, Alex Caple was fortunate to receive a good education. Traveling the state with his high school speech team, though, he realized that there were a lot of educational disparities.
“I want children to experience what I did growing up,” Caple said. “I had a great experience in high school and I want to give back to children in communities who may not have that opportunity.”
Caple decided to do this by applying for Teach for America, a program that was started in 1990 by a Princeton undergraduate, Wendy Kopp. The program aims to end educational inequity by sending top college graduates into low-income communities to teach for two years, bypassing traditional teacher training programs. Teach for America has become one of the nation’s largest providers of teachers for low-income communities, and has been recognized for building a pipeline of leaders committed to educational equity and excellence.
In order to become a part of TFA, students must go through an application process followed by phone interviews or in-person interviews. Hundreds of students apply every year. Caple and Southwestern classmate Sarah Cromwell recently learned they were accepted into the highly competitive program.
Caple will be teaching middle school children in San Antonio, which is a new city for Teach for America. “I’m excited because as members of the first Teach for America corps to work in the city, we’ll be setting the standards and the traditions that our future corps members will be challenged to meet and beat,” Caple said.
Caple is a communication studies and political science double major and a theater minor. He is involved in several organizations on campus including Student Congress, Student Foundation and the APO service organization. When recruiters for Teach for America came to Southwestern, he met with them several times and knew it was the opening he was looking for.
“Teach for America was the perfect opportunity and fit for me because while I may not be serving in my own home town, I do have the opportunity to provide that experience somewhere else where it is needed and wanted,” he said.
Cromwell is an art history major and is involved in several campus organizations, including Delta Delta Delta sorority, the Spanish honor society Sigma Delta Pi and Operation Achievement, a program in which local middle school students come to campus once a week and meet with Southwestern mentors.
Cromwell was a staff member for Operation Achievement (OA), and said her involvement with that organization led to her decision to apply for TFA.
“When I met with the recruiters here on campus, I thought it would be a great opportunity for me,” she said. “I had never planned on being a teacher, but I needed a break from school and I will be giving back to the community at the same time.”
Cromwell has been assigned to teach special education students in the Houston Independent School District and hopes to make a difference to students with learning disabilities. She plans to live in Houston with a friend who was also accepted into Teach for America.
“I am excited about what is to come,” Cromwell said. “I know this journey will help me figure out who I am and what path I want to take in the future.”
Caple and Cromwell will start training programs this summer and must complete teacher certification exams. After the training sessions, they will report to their selected cities in August for the 2010-2011 school year.
− Reese Cisneros ’10