Teach For America Teachers Arrive In Tulsa

Tuesday, June 23rd 2009, 6:19 pm
By: News On 6

By Jennifer Loren, The News On 6

TULSA, OK - On a mission to change the lives of students, 75 new teachers arrived in Tulsa on Tuesday.  They're part of Teach for America, an organization whose goal is to close the academic gap for students who live in high-poverty areas.  It's the first year the group is teaching within Tulsa Public Schools.  And, the Teach for America Corps is armed with high expectations.

Karla Martinez is one of 75 corps members moving to Tulsa to teach in our public schools for two years.  She's a first-generation American, a graduate of Yale University and a passionate advocate for equal education.

04/21/2009 Related Story: Teach For America Comes To TPS

"My first goal is to find out where my students are and then bring them up to the level they have to be at by the end of the year," said Karla Martinez.

This is the group's first trip to Tulsa, where they received a warm welcome and some Oklahoma culture.  Each one of them has been hand-picked by Teach for America out of 35,000 applicants.

"So, we really try to go for the best of the best on college campuses to ensure that they can handle the very challenging environments," said Chris Kaleel with Teach for America.

Each of the 75 corps members is working on their Oklahoma certification and will receive 5 weeks of training before heading to class this fall.  Martinez will be teaching math at McLain. 

She says she knows it will be difficult, but she's ready for the challenge.

"I think it's just having them respect me and showing what I have done and showing them that they can do that, too. And, that I'm there for them. I believe in them, no matter what anyone has said to them before," said Karla Martinez.

The 74 other corps members are from diverse backgrounds, but all of them share the same goal:  making sure where you're from doesn't dictate what you know.

"So, they're definitely on a mission to work hard to ensure that all kids have an equal chance at an excellent education," said Chris Kaleel with Teach for America.

Studies have shown Teach for America teachers to be very successful in bringing their students test scores up, especially in science and math.