The Greatest Challenge

A guest blog by Caitlyn Clark, Alpha Delta ’12, Teach For America Corps. ’12

I first learned about Teach For America during my semester as an Initiate in Phi Sigma Pi. I remember reading about the organization and knowing that was exactly what I wanted to do. Being a Brother has helped me in my classroom in so many ways. I have more determination, more understanding, and more compassion for my students because of the things I learned from Phi Sigma Pi.

It was a harsh reality for me to hear that my students have been told they can’t several times. They are only 6 and 7 years old! No person at any age should be told they cannot do something they want to do or be something that they aspire to be. My classroom, my school, my community is overflowing with students that WILL be doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, and anything else they want to be!

After meeting my students, it was clear that I was going to give them the quality education that they deserve. We have already been through a few challenges together when we had to figure out how to make things work while working toward solution. (For example, we made moving classrooms fun and students helped find places in the new room for all of our learning materials). Together we are able to make the best of the situation. Most of my students are unaware of opportunities that are available for them beyond the school walls that will help them achieve their dreams. First grade is a BIG year for my students. I have already seen them grow incredibly since the first day of school. I can only imagine where they will be in June. The student who can’t spell their name will write a story. The student who can’t identify numbers will lead a math lesson. And the student who cannot read will pick up a book to share during our spring literacy event. I know that I have so much to offer students in order to help them face all the challenges that will come there way for the rest of their time in school. I want to set my students on the right path in order to achieve them.

I am extremely lucky to work with an amazing school staff. They are all phenomenal at the jobs they do. In addition to my inspirational and extremely supportive grade level team, the administration is amazing to work with. In addition to my school staff, the Teach For America staff is such an amazing aspect of this experience. They work with you to ensure that you are feeling confident in the classroom. They go above and beyond to help you be successful. It is my hope that I can be as much of an inspiration to my students, school, and community as they are to me.

I have never been the person that would back down in the face of a challenge. Coming into this Teach For America experience I knew it was going to be one of the greatest challenges that I have ever faced. There are definitely some extremely hard days, especially now since it is October and I am really just trying to figure out how to be a teacher. The hardest of all the hard days are made so much easier because of my amazing roommates. I love being able to come home from school and unwind by talking about challenges, getting advice about possible strategies/solutions, and, of course, sharing many, many laughs.

My students make this experience worth it. My Brothers made my college experience worth it. I want to see more Brothers get involved with Teach For America. Chapters can adopt a classroom, start a pen-pal program, or even spend some time volunteering in a Teach For America classroom. It is the little things that go a long way and make the biggest difference. It is also my hope that all of my Brothers consider applying for Teach For America. Just like being part of the Brotherhood, it is a life changing experience.

Note: Apply by Teach For America’s third deadline: Monday, November 5 at noon ET. “The chance to change the world exists, but it will require bravery, commitment, and support. Teach For America will help you with the commitment and support, but you must muster up the bravery.” Be brave and join the movement.



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