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University Third in Teach for America Recruits

Johnny Solis

Johnny Solis (SFS'11) teaches a lesson to his eighth-grade English class at YES Prep Public School in Houston. Solis says it is important for people to remember that teachers are leaders in the classroom.

August 29, 2011 – Georgetown is ranked third among medium-sized colleges and universities that contributed graduates to Teach For America (TFA) in 2011, according to the organization.

Fifty-four 2011 Georgetown graduates will join the ranks of more than 5,200 new corps members and the 420 Georgetown alumni who have served in the organization since its inception in 1990.

TFA recruits college graduates, graduate students and professionals who commit to teach for two years in rural and urban public schools in 43 regions throughout the country.

‘Men and Women for Others’

Some TFA members believe Georgetown’s Jesuit ideals of service and “men and women for others” inspire many graduates to join the organization.

Anthony Pena

Anthony Pena (SFS'10) and one of his students from Booker T. Washington Middle School for the Arts in Baltimore, Md.

“I believe that Georgetown’s Jesuit ideals have truly made me more vested in my community,” says Anthony Pena (SFS’10).

Pena, a second-year TFA member, teaches a class called Character Competence to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders at Booker T. Washington Middle School for the Arts in Baltimore, Md.

“We look at developing social skills and citizenship skills in our students,” he says.

Challenges

Pena says these skills are particularly important for his students because they help combat behavioral problems, some of which he believes are caused by high rates of teacher turnover.

In addition to the character building class, Pena came up with three guidelines for his students – respect, character and responsibility, also known as Mr. P.’s three principles.

“I held students accountable,” Pena says. By the end of his first year teaching, Pena says his students showed a marked improvement in their behavior.

Intensive Training

Johnny Solis (SFS’11), who started his first year with TFA this month, says training at the summer institute, an intensive five-week program orienting new corps members to the classroom, was one of the hardest things he’s ever done.

Solis, who teaches eighth grade English at YES (Youth Engagement Service) Prep Public School in Houston, advises students applying to TFA to think carefully about the program and what it requires.

"It’s a lot of hard work,” he says. “Know what you are getting into. Know that you need to prove yourself as a leader because, ultimately, that is what a teacher is.”

Hoya Saxa

Solis’ classroom is decorated with Georgetown memorabilia. He also came up with a Georgetown-inspired teaching method.

“Whenever I want to get [the students'] attention, and I want them to put their pencils down and have their eyes up on me, I yell ‘Hoya,’ and they respond ‘Saxa,’” he says. 

“It feels great to wake up everyday and to come to my classroom and see those Georgetown banners,” Solis adds.

Georgetown University37th and O Streets, N.W., Washington D.C. 20057(202) 687.0100

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