Thursday, June 19, 2008
Two grads selected for Teach for America program
By Laura Angus, media relations assistant
Two OU students will participate in the prestigious Teach for America program, and will get the chance to help improve the lives of low-income students in New York City.
The students, Katie (Miller) Vitale and Jameelah Muhammad, will be among more than 3,700 teachers teaching in low-income, urban and rural communities as part of the program.
They were selected out of 24,718 applicants, many from America’s most selective universities.
“This is a major coup for these two students and for OU,” said Mary Beth Snyder, vice president for Student Affairs. “Typically, the program admits a large percentage of Ivy League students, so Jameelah and Katie competed favorably with some pretty decorated scholars.”
There is a six-week summer training program, and then the students teach in New York City Public Schools. Teach for America is a two-year commitment, and many teachers stay longer or join the program’s staff.
Vitale said she knew she wanted to be a teacher when she was very young, and decided on elementary education after her first semester at OU. She said she felt for a short time that she ought to do something more than being “just a teacher” but realized teaching would be her avenue for change.
“I have always been passionate about diversity, leadership, teamwork, and helping others set and reach their goals, and for a while I was searching for a career where these things would be part of my everyday experience,” Vitale said. “Then I realized the answer had been staring me in the face my whole life.”
“Teaching is where I fit, and I truly believe it is the most important and rewarding career there is,” Vitale said.
She graduated from OU in May of 2007, and took classes in counseling last year, but she said she thinks educational leadership might be a better direction for her. She said she plans on getting her master’s degree, and is looking into a summer program at Columbia University. She will be leaving on June 22 for New York.
For more information about the program, visit the Teach for America Web site.