Taylor Corley and Jeremy Holtan
Jeremy Holtan and Taylor Corley

New grads selected for Teach for America

With a brand-new Drake diploma from the School of Education in tow, Taylor Corley, ED’07, is on a fast track to help shape the future of America’s education system. Passionate about ensuring all children have equal access to a quality education, she aspires someday to work in public policy at the federal government level.

For now, she plans to devote her enthusiasm to Teach For America, a highly competitive national corps of top college graduates for which Corley was selected recently. Jeremy Holtan, JO’07, also was chosen to join the corps.

Teach For America corps members are placed in struggling low-income schools for two-year teaching commitments. Both Corley and Holtan will teach in Denver Public Schools, joining other outstanding college graduates chosen from nearly 19,000 applicants.

Corley will draw from the strong teaching foundation she gained as a student in the School of Education. “At Drake, they made sure we were in the classroom a lot, which gave me a wide range of experiences,” she said. “I’ve had the chance to see several management styles and different methods of teaching.”

The biggest teaching challenge she expects to encounter in her Denver classroom will be language barriers, considering the high percentage of Hispanic students enrolled in Denver Public Schools. Luckily, she comes equipped with valuable experience gained from completing her student teaching semester at Willard Elementary, a Des Moines school with a large Hispanic population.

Corley thrived working in such an environment, and the experience helped validate her career goals. So when she discovered the mission statement for Teach for America so closely aligned with her own philosophy for equal educational opportunity for all, she knew the corps was a perfect place to start on her pursuit to reform America’s educational system.

Holtan, who studied public relations at Drake, shares Corley’s philosophy and is determined to influence the future of education. “I look forward to working with students and believe that becoming a part of Teach for America gives me an excellent opportunity to help others achieve their goals as I strive to achieve my own,” Holtan said.

Before heading to Denver with their fellow 2007 corps members, the pair will participate in Teach For America’s intensive summer training institute in Los Angeles. There, they will learn the overarching approach used by successful teachers in low-income communities, teach in a summer school program, work with a faculty of experienced educators and participate in numerous professional development activities. Once in Denver, they will continue their professional development through Teach For America’s local training and support resources.

Teach For America corps members go above and beyond traditional expectations to impact the lives of children growing up in low-income communities. A recent independent study found that students of corps members make 10 percent more progress a year in math than is typically expected while slightly exceeding the normal expectation for progress in reading.

Since its first corps of 500 members entered classrooms in six regions in 1990, nearly 17,000 college graduates have joined Teach For America. This fall, corps members will be teaching in 26 locations in underserved communities across the country. More information on Teach For America is available at http://www.teachforamerica.org/.