‘Gap Year’ programs are crossing graduating Seniors’ minds more and more each year. Teach For America (TFA) is no different. Teach For America is a two-year teaching experience focused on improving the quality of education for children growing up in low-income communities. TFA believes that successful teachers are accomplished leaders in a variety of areas, including on their college campuses. Recruiter Lindsay Pittas adds that Teach For America participants should also display perseverance, have an honest respect for diversity, and passion for community.

Butler Alum Chad Miller is a current Teach For America participant at Indianapolis Metropolitan (Indy MET) High School. While on campus, Miller was involved in Greek Life, Program Board, and Mortar Board. Even though he graduated in 2009 with a Secondary Education degree with a concentration in economics, history, and geography, Miller now teaches eleventh grade geometry. It may seem likely but, having a Secondary Education degree is ironic in the Teach For America program because it encourages individuals from all backgrounds, majors, and professional experiences who have what it takes to excel as teachers to consider applying.

Miller had heard about TFA from a recruiter who came to Butler for an information session. When talking to the recruiter, he had heard stories about the experiences TFA had given her as well as the opportunities that were open to her after the completion of the two year program. Miller made an appointment at the Internship and Career Services (ICS) office to get his resume critiqued so he could start the application process.

Butler sociology major Lena White is applying for Teach For America for a number of reasons. “I heard about it while on a trip to Uganda from a Butler alum,” White claims. Lena is involved with Greek Life and College Mentors for Kids. She believes that she can relate with Teach For America’s overall vision to help improve America’s low-income communities’ quality of education. She wants an experience that she will learn something from but more importantly to be able to contribute towards and make a difference in young people’s lives. “I love kids,” White continues “and I am not ready to commit to a graduate program.” Before applying online White made a trip to ICS, like Miller, to make sure her resume and letter of intent seemed competitive and tangible to what TFA searched for in a participant. White will find out in January 2011 if she is picked for this once in a life time experience.

Pittas, Miller, and White agree that the application process is thorough as it is a three step process. This upcoming year Pittas believes there will be over fifty-thousand applicants. The schools where Teach For America participants are placed have at least seventy-five percent of their students receiving a free or reduced lunch. These schools could also be struggling with raising graduation rate or test scores. Being open to new education reforms and ideas is a help as well. “These schools are excited to partner with Teach For America,” Pittas says. Current TFA participant Miller seemed just as excited, “…if you want to be in a place that your day-to-day doesn’t get boring, teaching is it.”

To learn more about ‘Gap Year’ experiences that focus on servant leadership and making a difference with communities visit ICS’s Gap Year website or stop by AU 315, email career@butler.edu, or call 940-9383.