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Bigger Teach for America Pool at CMS This Year

Zondwayo Mulwanda, a new Teach for America teacher at Charlotte's Reid Park Elementary. hspace=2

Teach for America teachers do not have teaching degrees. They're fresh college grads who have demonstrated strong leadership abilities. They complete ONE month of intensive training and are sent to high-poverty schools that many veteran teachers avoid. "I wanna do my part to help this huge problem," says Zondwayo Mulwanda. Mulwanda graduated in May from the University of Missouri with a degree in family social science. Yesterday, he completed his first day at Reid Park Elementary on Charlotte's west side. He says, "They're second graders. They're young. It's a step by step process. You've got to make sure you're giving them each and every step, over and over again. Because they're not college kids, they're not high school kids, they're not even fifth graders. They're in second grade." Mulwanda is excited by the prospects of his new job. "It's a two-year commitment but my goal is to be in teaching for as long as I can be. I sort of found the teacher calling a little late in the game," he says. That doesn't ease the concerns of critics. Carol Sawyer is with the group Mecklenburg ACTS, which seeks equity for all students in the district. She says, "Hardly any of them stay beyond two years. Very, very few of them stay as teachers in CMS." Sawyer and others in her advocacy group argue high poverty schools become revolving doors for teachers. "What we do is we provide a great training opportunity but it's at the expense of our neediest students, who really need experienced teachers," she says. The district got a four million dollar gift to nearly double the number of new Teach For America staffers for this school year.