Current Issue

July15, 2009

Vol. 109, No. 16

from the editor

From the Editor

Published in the July15, 2009, issue


Wendy Kopp ’89 proposed the creation of Teach For America in her Princeton senior thesis; since then, she has developed it into one of the most popular and influential public-service organizations in the United States.
Jean-Christian Bourcart/Courtesy Teach for America
Wendy Kopp ’89 proposed the creation of Teach For America in her Princeton senior thesis; since then, she has developed it into one of the most popular and influential public-service organizations in the United States.
Much has been written in PAW over the years about Wendy Kopp ’89 and her thesis-turned-national-service-project, Teach for America. In this issue, PAW takes you into the classrooms of some young alumni who are turning Kopp’s plan into action.

As Christopher Connell ’71 notes in his article, “Teaching for America” (beginning on page 26), about 15 percent of Princeton’s Class of 2009 applied for positions with Teach for America; only a handful were accepted. What will these new teachers experience in their classrooms in the fall? For that, Connell visited with young alumni now working as TFA teachers in low-income schools in New Orleans and Washington, D.C.

None of these teachers expected their first year in the classroom to be easy — and it wasn’t. Discipline problems, truancy, and simple inattention were more prevalent than they had expected. Some alumni said they longed for more guidance from experienced educators.

There are other routes to teaching jobs, of course. For 40 years, Princeton’s Program in Teacher Preparation has offered students and alumni an opportunity to become fully licensed to teach in an elementary or secondary school. Some undergraduates stay for a ninth semester to take the last of four required education courses and practice-teach.

Students often ask, “Why should we go through a teacher-preparation program when we can just go to Teach for America and quickly start drawing a salary?” program director John B. Webb told Connell. “Our answer is, when you have the preparation and opportunity to do practice-teaching, you’re able to hit the ground running.”

Webb said 40 students were enrolled in Princeton’s program in 2008–09, and a dozen more were “in the pipeline.” He expected 19 to earn New Jersey teaching credentials this year. Forty percent of the 800 teachers the program has helped credential have become career teachers, and 20 percent work in education in some other capacity, Webb said.

However they arrive, alumni working in the nation’s struggling schools deserve admiration and thanks for carrying out Princeton’s informal motto each day.

We are proud to announce that PAW has won the gold medal as best general-interest college or university magazine in its circulation category — 30,000 to 74,999 — in the annual competition sponsored by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. Forty-eight entries were judged. The award speaks to the efforts of the PAW staff and its many contributors, including class secretaries and memorialists, and to the support of PAW’s alumni advisory board.

With this issue, PAW begins its summer break. We return in print Sept. 23. But we will be available all summer long at paw.princeton.edu, where you will find videos and slide shows from Reunions and Commencement as well as summer news.

Marilyn H. Marks *86
mmarks@princeton.edu

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CURRENT ISSUE: July15, 2009