StL Teach for America Teachers Hone
Classroom Skills After Israel Experience
“Teach For America corps members work incredibly hard to improve educational prospects for the students they teach during their two years,” said Andrew Mandel, Teach For America’s Vice President of Interactive Learning and Engagement. “REALITY is an unmatched opportunity for this highly selective group of young leaders to explore a range of complex issues through an innovative cross-cultural approach while mining their personal values and connecting to provocative and successful role models dedicated to improving the lives of others.”
Each REALITY Israel participant talked about his or her appreciation for the time to self-reflect while abroad. Their interactions with local Jewish leaders, their conversations with other trip participants, and exposure to everyday life in Israel, the four walked away with a purposeful understanding of their own innate ability to collaborate and lead in St. Louis.
Today, Samantha, Dan, Elie and David are building on the experiences they had in Israel and are continuing to work for educational equity for St. Louis’ students in low-income neighborhoods. Samantha Lurie is a fourth year special education Biology teacher at Vashon High School. Elie Bilmes is a second year World History teacher at Sumner High School. David Schnall is a second year World Literature teacher at Beaumont Technical High School. Dan Huebner is the assistant to the executive director at Teach For America – St. Louis and taught for two years at Roosevelt High School.
When asked what advice they had for others wanting to learn more about St. Louis’ education landscape, each participant shared that visiting a school as a volunteer was ideal for getting a clear sense of the achievement gap in the region. David Schnall added, “There is so much more to education in this area than statistics, and the best way to learn more is to connect to students and teachers.” Attending school board meetings and Teach For America – St. Louis’ community events were additional suggestions made by the group for those seeking to learn more about St. Louis’ schools. “Our kids are depending on us to give them the skills with which they can create a better life,” said Elie Blimes. Because of REALITY, these four local leaders have the insight they need to be a source of positive change alongside other efforts in their schools’ communities.
Currently, 200 Teach For America – St. Louis corps members are working in high-need public schools in St. Louis this fall, collectively reaching more than 14,000 students. For these four TOA participants, their experience is impacting the way they view their work in the classroom.
“The only reason I am where I am today is because of the outstanding opportunities that I have been given over the years to study, travel and lead,” said Huebner. “Teach For America seemed like an excellent opportunity to rectify the fact that not all young people in our country are afforded these same opportunities. I think all of our nation’s children deserve a legitimate chance to have the same [opportunities] that I have had.”
About Teach For America
Teach For America is the national corps of outstanding recent college graduates who commit to teach for two years in urban and rural public schools and become lifelong leaders in expanding educational opportunity. This fall, 9,000 corps members will be teaching in 43 regions across the country while nearly 24,000 Teach For America alumni continue working from inside and outside the field of education for the fundamental changes necessary to ensure educational excellence and equity. For more information, visit www.teachforamerica.org.