Monday, April 17, 2006


We have 23 slots filled and six people we are waiting to hear from. Here is a copy of the email I recently sent to the six:

Hi Everyone,

This email is going to the six people who are still making their final decision regarding the Mississippi Teacher Corps (23 have already signed up). Some of you are considering Teach For America, some are looking at other teaching programs, and some are considering a completely different career. As all of you will contact me in the next week with your decision I thought I would send out one last pitch for Teacher Corps.

The best example of the rewards (and challenges) of Teacher Corps can be found in an article written by Carey Applegate, who finished the program in 2004. Her article, titled "Carpe Diem" was published in the English Journal and you can access it here. Most importantly Carey writes about the kids, and the incredible need these kids have for dedicated, caring adults in their lives. To quote Carey:

"My students--ranging in age from fifteen to twenty--have an average reading level of sixth grade. Approximately one-fourth of the girls in Delta high schools are pregnant or have had a child or children. The physical and sexual abuse rates in the Delta are quietly astronomical. Most of the students work one or two jobs outside of school to earn extra money. Many live in the old "shanty towns," the shacks on the black side of town. Indianola, like many Delta towns, remains divided into black and white..."

Powerful (and true) writing. One of the reasons that you were selected to Teacher Corps is that many of you have experience teaching, working with kids, or counseling people who have been abused. You will be able to draw on these skills and experiences to help these kids who have been all but forgotten about by the rest of the country...

I have a few other thoughts and then I promise I will leave you alone to make what I'm sure is a difficult decision. For those of you trying to decide between Teacher Corps and TFA (or another teaching program) please consider the following:

The attrition rate for Teacher Corps during the summer training is 0%. The attrition rate for Teacher Corps during the school year is 0%. This indicates to me two things. One, we are bringing in outstanding individuals who are committed to working with children in poverty. Children who, because of the circumstances they were born into, receive a vastly inferior education. Two, the training and support we provide is second to none. Because we only take a maximum of 30 people each year everyone gets significant instruction, support, and feedback.

The attrition rate for Teacher Corps after the first school year is 3%. The past two years we have had one person leave after the first year of teaching. Again, this indicates to me that we are providing outstanding (and continuous) training and support. Furthermore, on our internal evaluations, 100% of our participants are satisfied with the Teacher Corps upon completion of the program.

The four most important questions to ask any teacher-training program are: 1. What is the attrition rate during the initial training? 2. What is the attrition rate during the school year? 3. What is the attrition rate after the first year of teaching? 4. What is the satisfaction level of participants in your program? Whether you chose Teacher Corps or another program I encourage you to ask these questions beforehand as they will give you insight into how well or how poorly the teachers are trained and supported.

For those of you considering a different career altogether all I can say is this: Teacher Corps will almost certainly be the most difficult two years of your professional life and Teacher Corps will almost certainly be the the most rewarding two years of your professional life. Teaching is an all-encompassing job for little pay. While we offer a lot of benefits with our program (a masters degree, summer housing, a $1,000 stipend, certification, etc.) the motivation and reward with our program is the kids.

So that is my pitch. I expect I will hear from all of you over the next week as you make your decision. As always, please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. Have a great weekend, a great week, and thanks for your time.

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