Arsema Assefa: Teaching for America

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“One day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.”

This simple statement is the motto of Teach for America, a national teaching corps of recent college graduates who commit two years to teach and to effect change in under-resourced urban and rural public schools. Arsema Assefa ’15 jumped at the chance to make such a difference.

“I joined the teaching corps because I knew I was passionate about education,” she says.

As part of TFA’s 2016 corps, Assefa was placed in Oklahoma City where she teaches kindergarten at Martin Luther King Elementary.

“Every day is a challenge because there is always something new to do and learn,” she says. “As you get so invested in these kids’ lives, their challenges/obstacles at home become your own. I hope they can escape the systemic injustices they grew up in and live better lives with great opportunities.”

The experience has been both a joy and an eye-opener for Assefa, who attributes her Florida Tech education with helping her develop independence, responsibility, eloquence and acceptance in her role as a social justice educator.

“I’ve learned to really talk about the issues in our society that most people shy away from—to really see the injustice in our community and appreciate the need for service in low-income community schools/neighborhoods.”

When her service in the teaching corps is complete, she is debating three options for the future: pursuing a master’s degree in human development and child psychology, continuing to teach for a few more years, or joining the Peace Corps to gain experience abroad in education.

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Christena Callahan is editor of Florida Tech Today magazine.

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