Saturday, January 26, 2013

Teach for America

About two weeks ago it struck me that I should really check out the organization that my daughter-in-law told me about called Teach for America. So... I did and in less than an hour I had written my letter of interest and uploaded my resume. That was the end of that. I didn't look to see if there was a "timeline" when they would get back to me. I just figured I'd hear something.... OR NOT. Which is often the case when you apply for something online. You spend time filling out all of this information and chasing down everything they want and you never hear a word back from them. Therefore, I didn't expect to really hear back from them.

I'll share my letter of interest for anyone who may be interested. I didn't even address this letter to anyone....

I would like to join Teach for America because I want to make a difference in the lives of children who have the potential to reach for the stars if only someone will point them towards the sky. I’m a mature college graduate who had to wait until my youngest child went off to college before I could finally follow my hearts dream. As life would have it, I’ve been able to work with youth since 1980 without a degree. Along the way I had the opportunity to attend various symposiums, classes and seminars but it was the practical experience that offered the greatest chance for me to learn what the children need. I am a volunteer teacher for youth in Haiti. I teach English via Skype to a packed classroom for an hour or two on what is less than a perfect Internet service. By working with youth for many years and having the opportunity to meet the kids in Haiti, I’ve learned how to teach, as my kids call it, “a whole bunch of ways to get where you want to go.” My experience shows kids of all ages have a curiosity about all things in life. They seek out ways to understand what is going on around them almost every moment of the day. Sometimes those experiences turn out to be positive, sometimes they don’t but if they find an adult that is willing to share life’s explorations with them many times it’s not such a bumpy road.

You ask three simple questions like there are three simple answers. There are not. It’s more the willingness of the mentor to bind with the children and trudge down the path together. Success is the moment the child finally gets how to subtract. It’s the kid that’s said “dat” instead of “that” it’s the mom, dad, aunt or sister who comes into the parent teacher conference smiling instead of fearful. There are no magic wands. It’s more like a smile where there’s a frown, an “ok” when all the kid has heard is “no.” It’s trying the same thing over and over and over until finally the magic happens. It’s never giving up on ones dreams no matter the obstacles in the way. I finished my degree in Homeland Security because our children are at risk and I wanted to know how to prevent our children from becoming involved. My conclusion is education. Skills that provide kids with methods to reason, to contemplate, to act in positive ways, to continue to reach for their goal and adults who surround them with love and support. That’s why I want to work for Teach for America and specifically in South Dakota. I’m going to leave my life in Illinois, that’ I’ve spent 30 years building to help children that deserve the opportunity to build their life, just the way I have. We’ll see what God has in mind for me and the children I’m going to get to teach.

Then about a week later I get this letter.
Dear Vicki,Congratulations! I am pleased to invite you to continue in the Teach For America admissions process. We enjoyed reviewing your application and would like to learn more about you and your experiences through a phone interview. 

As you can imagine, I was pretty excited. I quickly signed up for my telephone interview and called the people that I wanted to ask to be my references. On Thursday January 24, 2013 promptly at EXACTLY 8:30 (the time I signed up for) the phone rang. I talked to a young woman named Whitney for about 30 minutes. It was a really fun interview and I feel pretty great about it.... no matter the outcome. 

Maybe I should explain that I told them that I wanted to teach in South Dakota. The Sicangu (Rosebud) and Oglala (Pine Ridge) Lakota are sovereign nations that are situated within South Dakota's Todd and Shannon Counties—two of the five poorest counties in the United States. 
Since the moment I hung up the phone I've been researching everything I can about the area. I'm excited. As I told them in my letter of interest... We'll see what God has in mind for me.

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