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Walton Family Foundation Bulk Buys into TFA

By Annie Gilbertson | Published 27 Jul 2011 09:30am | comments
SOURCE: Flickr/monsantofund

The Walton Family Foundation is helping double the number of Teach for America teachers nationwide.  The foundation is also supporting on-going teacher training for corp members already in the classroom. MPB's education reporter, Annie Gilbertson, explains despite TFAs growth, Mississippi schools are still desperate for more.


The Walton Family Foundation will donate close to 50 million dollars over the next 3 years.  The foundation, created by the same family that started Wal-Mart, aims to support the TFA in its goal of building an army of 15,000 new teachers in 2015.


Katie Jones is a principal in South Delta High School.  She says she tried to fill vacant math, science and foreign language classes with Teach for America teachers, but there weren’t enough.


Jones: Started off needing seven teachers, and two weeks before school starts I still need three teachers.  Last year I had one English, one Biology, one Spanish and one Math.


Jones says she hopes more money for Teach for America means more teachers for her school.


But in addition to helping sponsor new teachers, the foundation is also helping supply more guidance and training to already existing team members.  The organization is often criticized for running a crash course in teaching, as opposed to providing the years of study traditional teachers take on.


Many of these new on-going training programs are being piloted now.


Meyers: “Right now teachers are working on a remedial skills sequence.” (room sound bed)


That's a fancy way for saying a list that shows how math skills build on one another. 

Amanda Meyers is a Teach for America corp member who has been teaching Algebra I in a small town outside of Greenwood for two years.  Today she's receiving some bonus training.


Meyers: If you don’t know that a negative divided by a negative is a positive number.  You might understand the concept of how to get a variable alone, but you might make a mistake just on the arithmetic.”


Meyers and her classmates in today's session are learning how to identify math concepts students didn’t get enough exposure to early on.


Part of the struggle stems from that fact that finding certified math teachers in the Delta is difficult. 


Teach for America has helped fill those vacancies in the past.  Now TFA is getting significant help in its mission to supply more teachers and provide enhanced training tens of thousands of them.


For MPB News, from the Southern Education Desk, I'm Annie Gilbertson.


SOURCE: Flickr/monsantofund



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