Teach For America—No Kidding

EDITOR’S NOTE: When TheDEN last checked in with Jerome Price ’12, he was leading a conversation about the value and plight of education. It should come as no surprise that this year Price is leading recruitment efforts at Denison for Teach For America, a national corps of recent college graduates, from all majors and career interests, who commit two years to teach in urban and rural public schools. He’s currently canvassing the campus in a last-minute push to get new TFA prospects to apply before the October 26 deadline.

Price recently put TheDEN in touch with Kimmi Oshita ’11, who started her TFA term last month at a Baltimore public school. When not teaching, the Big Red soccer star and education studies—sociology/anthropology double major is pursuing a master’s degree in urban education at Johns Hopkins University. Here, she shares a few thoughts on the trials and elations of her new adventure…

They weren’t lying when they told me this job would be extremely challenging. Being a first-year teacher is unbelievably overwhelming for me, to say the least. I get less sleep than I did while “studying” at Denison, use every ounce of my mental energy, and run around all day long; yet, I honestly feel more energized than ever. Even counting my fifth period class, which is currently the epitome of a complete disaster, I love what I’m doing.

I’m in my sixth week of teaching reading and coaching the men’s soccer team at a high school in Baltimore. My school is a turn-around school on an extended-day, four-plus-one schedule. The students take both English and reading because almost everyone is behind academically. I’m very far from becoming what I would consider to be a “great teacher,” but I enjoy working toward this rather ambiguous goal. Everyday, I’m reminded that my students deserve my absolute best.

For example, the other day, I made a comment about being Asian to a couple of my students. They responded, “You’re Asian? I thought you said you were Korean!” These two bright, highly capable high school students lack so much world knowledge; they remind me that I need to be more urgent in my work.

Many students on my soccer team have never played soccer before, let alone worn a uniform or been a part of any organized team. I still can’t get over how thrilled they are when someone has the smallest success. A head ball or a tackle is like winning the World Cup. It is humbling to witness so much pure joy for the game and for the opportunity to be a part of a team—an opportunity I’ve always taken for granted.

I am excited for this upcoming year. There is still so much for me to learn, but I feel like I’m headed in the right direction. Just make sure to check back with me in a few more weeks…

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11:37 AM October 26, 2011

Cheryl McFarren wrote:

Kimmi’s dedication and enthusiasm are wonderful, and I wish to register my encouragement as she completes her first semester. I’ll be cheering her on from the virtual stands!

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1:20 PM October 27, 2011

Jim Parsons wrote:

As a funder of Teach for America in Chicago, I was very pleased to see TheDen highlight this story. TFA corps member like Kimmi have an incredibly positive impact on the lives of underserved students across the country. I hope we can count on an update later in the year!

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11:45 PM November 1, 2011

Katherine Keogh Noel wrote:

Hey Jim. TFA has a lot to recommend it but there are other great programs out there. I have been involved with two in Colorado. In CO, we have Alternative Certification which allows us to offer certification to career changers and/or degreed persons who did not student teach etc. The programs offer a masters option as well. I have been involved with the Friends’ School Teacher Training Program (Boulder) and the Stanley British Primary Teacher Training Program (Denver) which both, I believe, offer much more in the way of support than TFA. Interested candidates should check out ours, TFA, and other options. KKN

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