Educating for a Cause



You’ve probably seen the green signs around campus and heard a recruitment assistant speak in one of your classes. But did you know that today Teach For America employs more Colgate students than ever before??

“There’s a buzz now at Colgate,” Recruitment Associate Kayleigh Minicozzi said. “[Colgate] is on the rise at Teach For America. It’s so exciting.”

Teach For America is a nonprofit organization composed of teachers committed to changing the present education system in the country, from a system of inequity and injustice to one that affords opportunity for all. Even today, the gap in educational success lies along socioeconomic and racial lines, and Teach For America bases its mission on startling facts: half of students in low-income communities will not graduate high school. Those who do will perform on an eighth grade level. African-American, Latino/Hispanic and Native American children are disproportionately likely to be affected by these educational inequalities.?

“People have said that education is this generation’s civil rights movement-this unknown racial divide,” said Minicozzi.

To combat this inequality, Teach For America seeks teachers of all majors and backgrounds to commit two years of teaching in a “high-need” public school in one of 29 regions across the county, from Newark, New Jersey, to the Mississippi Delta to Los Angeles, California. Teach For America evaluates its applicants holistically, looking for leadership skills and academic excellence.

“In general, we want someone deeply committed to our mission of ending educational inequality, someone really passionate for working for change,” Recruitment Director Kendra-Lee Rosati said.

The recruiters have had much success finding this type of motivated leaders among Colgate alumni.

“You get a great liberal education here; it encourages critical thinking from many different standpoints, and you are very socially aware.?Going to a school like Colgate, it can be very isolated, but these students want to reach out beyond the campus,” Rosati said, referencing common Colgate extra-curricular activities like tutoring in Utica and at Hamilton schools.

In the last stages of the interview process, a potential teaching corps member ranks his or her preferences for region, grade and subject area of teaching if accepted. Teach For America then works with the school system in your region of choice to set you up in the subject you want and provides prep work and classroom observation, as well as five weeks of training and the opportunity to teach summer school classes, to newly accepted members of the team.

“We are giving you all the skills you need to be an excellent teacher,” Rosati said. “The training is hands-on, extremely rigorous and very comprehensive. It’s exactly like college: the type of effort you put into it will be the results you get out.”

Teach For America also provides continuous mentoring over the teachers’ two-year tenure to ensure that the teachers have all the resources possible at their disposal to move forward student achievement.

Contrary to popular belief, Teach For America places teachers as employees in school districts, so they receive a full salary and health benefits from the placement region. Though the organization is non-profit, teachers do not work as volunteers.

Ian Maron-Kolitch ’07, a sociology/anthropology and Latin American studies major, is now employed at a bilingual elementary school in the Bronx through Teach For America, teaching second and third graders.

“I had read about the achievement gap before, but I had never imagined it to be as severe as it really is,” Maron-Kolitich said. “I honestly believe that it is our nation’s biggest challenge right now. You and I and most kids at Colgate were at the top of our graduating class-to see kids three grades behind is incredible.”

Maron-Kolitch said that the best part of his Teach For America experience has been seeing his students make progress, “becoming better readers, doing multiplication tables, opening their minds to be a critical thinker.”

“I believe wholeheartedly [in Teach For America],” Maron-Kolitich said. “It’s making the right decisions and taking the right steps for this problem.”

Maron-Koltich plans to work for Teach For America as a recruitment director if he doesn’t remain in the classroom after his two-year service.

For more information on Teach For America’s mission, regions, corps members and application, visit The next application deadline is Friday, November 7.