ASU named a top producer for Teach for America for fourth year in a row

The University is now ranked third among producers for the non-profit teaching organization

ASU has been ranked as a top producer for Teach for America for the fourth consecutive year, and this year the University climbed to third for the most students to join the organization, up from fourth in 2017.

Teach for America, a national non-profit that looks for leader dedicated to expanding educational opportunity throughout the country, began in 1990 and formed a partnership with ASU in 2006.

Mari Koerner, former dean of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College and the founding director of the Center for the Art & Science of Teaching, said that one of her goals when she was a dean was to see ASU climb in the rankings for TFA production. 

"I think that TFA has very good people in the program who, even if they don’t stay in the classrooms, they go on to take on leadership roles," she said. "We want to be in partnership with any organization that supports teachers and makes schools better for kids."

The TFA program places recent college graduates in high-need, low-income public schools throughout the country for two years. 

"TFA in many, many ways has the same values as ASU," Koerner said. "It reaches into the community and prepares people to work with children in underserved schools."

Koerner said that ASU produces a lot of TFA corps members because the University has such a large student population and really supports the program.

The TFA's Phoenix Institute teaches approximately 500 corps members from all over the country each year, preparing them for them for their two years of teaching.

Katie Stephens-Rich is an alumna of the TFA program who spent time at the Phoenix Institute and became the Teach for America recruitment manager at ASU in July 2018.

Stephens-Rich said she fell in love with the idea of expanding her impact and wanted to share her TFA experience to inspire others to join.

"I think honestly one of the best parts of my job is that I love sharing my story because I experienced such a personal transformation," she said. "I knew that this work was meaningful, and the small victories and those little light bulb moments just transition to triumph."

Stephens-Rich said ASU has produced over 600 corps members since the partnership with TFA began.

The 55 students who make up the 2018 ASU corps group represent diverse backgrounds, with 64 percent identifying as people of color and 62 percent coming from low income backgrounds. 

"I really feel that they have such a deep personal belief in the potential of all kids, and that they have a personal proximity to the issue," she said. "This makes us a unique campus, and I think it helps contribute to our rank."

Julia Tebben, program coordinator for strategic initiatives and University partnerships with ASU’s career and professional development services, said ASU is proud to support TFA and continue producing TFA members for years to come.

"The ideals of service and social embeddedness are part of the fabric of ASU and are integral to our culture as a University," she said. "Students and alumni care deeply about their local and global communities and they are looking for organizations like Teach for America to help them realize their desires to have a positive impact."

Brent Maddin is a TFA alumus and the executive director for the educator workforce initiatives at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. 

"I think in so many ways it was an opportunity to continue to be a life long learner," he said. "Additionally, it's a way to continue to broaden one's perspective, sense of purpose and sense of equity."

During his time with TFA, Maddin taught high school science in rural Louisiana and immersed himself in the community. 

"I had an opportunity to live, grow and appreciate part of a country that I had never lived in or been to before," he said.

Maddin said that ASU's partnership with TFA has been so successful because the two share the same priorities of inclusion, equity and innovative problem-solving.

Stephens-Rich said that Teach for America hopes to continue to dismantle inequities in education from every angle.

"This issue is solvable; our kids have the potential they just need the opportunity," she said. "The future success of our country depends on us taking action."


Reach the reporter at adunn11@asu.edu or follow @adrienne_dunn on Twitter.

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