I am going to try and spare you a starry-eyed and gumption-bloated spiel about how TFA is THE bulwark against educational malaise in America (short story: it is not). But, as someone who taught before my commitment and thus (perhaps) had less of an impetus to join, I feel it’s necessary to preface the life of this blog with the story of how I joined.
I knew I wanted teach about halfway through college when I started working in after-school care for the YMCA. I was basically terrible at it, but I had moments where I got to be creative and make a positive if fleeting contribution. And I’d get paid for it!
It was too late for me to change majors, so I began exploring alternative certification programs which is eventually how I became eligible to teach last year. In the interim, I spent time working for an alternative certification program after graduating (more on that in Pt. 2), followed by the soul-crushing morass of unemployment.
I applied to TFA days after getting let go, and that was a little saga all of its own:
(1) Despite thinking that I had isolated San Antonio as my only choice (I hadn’t, oops), I was accepted into the 2010 Dallas corps. In post #1, I mentioned that my wife works in a higher-paying capacity than I do (oh, and I love San Antonio and was committed to staying here anyway). So, I put in a request to have my acceptance deferred. Waiting!
(2) Deferment accepted! More waiting! (PS – you still don’t have a job, and you can only play X-Men Legends so many times before ripping fools apart as Wolverine loses its novelty.)
(3) Got hired in August 2010 in a low-income, non-placement district that neighbors the placement district. I figure, it’s just one year and then I’ll go elsewhere.
(4) Oh God it’s October and I don’t want to leave this campus HI DOES THIS MEAN I LOSE MY TFA STICKERS?
What appealed to me about TFA was the opportunity of working with a lot of really talented and enthusiastic people towards a common pursuit that I believed in. I thought, well, why can’t my school have that?
And it turns out they totally can! Much to my amazement, I met with our Executive Director over a year ago in this should-I-or-shouldn’t-I limbo, and she was super-psyched to have me stay where I am and possibly bring in MORE corps members later. This happened followed by a cascade of high fives and hour-long air guitar solos.
So, in short, the people working in this organization are super organized and professional and are tirelessly working to make my city’s educational landscape better. I’m happy to be a part of it at the end of the day in spite of my misgivings about the organization as a whole.