Edu-nation: Students plan to improve education system

By Sobia Siddiqui

Baylor students applying to Teach For America, a national program that places college graduates in schools in low-income areas, are hoping to make a difference as teachers.

Fulshear senior Kristin Boxleitner and Victoria senior Nadya Garcia hope to make an impact on the lives of students if accepted to the program.

“I want to go in and start a new movement in a school someday,” Boxleitner said. “I want to use my Spanish and go in and change the way kids perceive educators.”

According to the Teach For America website, the program trains teachers and sends them to work in one of 39 rural and urban areas to teach for two years.

Anyone can apply to Teach for America, but the criteria for acceptance is selective.

“They’re trying to get the best of the best,” Boxleitner, an applicant to the program, said.

Teach for America has observed the chosen applicants and found that the most successful share core skills.

“We’re looking [at] people who we have already seen have success in the classroom,” said Kaitlin Gastrock, the regional communications director for Teach For America. “Those [skills] include leadership and achievement; perseverance in the face of challenges; some of them exhibit strong critical thinking and the ability to influence and motivate others.”

Teach for America trains its teachers in classroom etiquette and ways to encourage and challenge students, motivating them to want to learn and progress.

“One goal is that one day all students in the nation will have the opportunity to obtain an excellent education,” Gastrock said. “Our teachers are having bigger impacts in the classrooms than [regular classroom] teachers.”

Garcia has already applied to Teach For America in hopes of joining as soon as she graduates.

“I feel that if you have the ability to teach, of having students actually understanding you, then you should want to teach,” Garcia said.

Boxleitner and Garcia are not the only Baylor students to feel this particular call. Gastrock said 11 members of the Baylor class of 2010 joined the Teach For America corps last year, and 4 percent of the senior class applied this year. Applicants will be notified April 4.