Teach First

Teach First alumni share expertise with first-generation future teachers

Feb 25, 2015

North Central College hosted its first annual Teach First Alumni Academy on Feb. 20 with 55 current Teach First students and eight Teach First Alumni Mentors participating. The mentors, who were first-generation college students at North Central and now are full-time teachers, prepared and facilitated interactive professional development workshops.

Teach First is North Central’s program for students who are first-generation college students pursuing a career in teaching. Teach First provides the networking experiences, mentorship and resources to launch students into a successful teaching career.

Students participating in the Alumni Academy could choose among four different workshops, as well as a first-year teacher panel and networking dinner.

A workshop on “Primary Literacy Instruction” with an emphasis on phonics was led by Eleni Tsevas ’13, a kindergarten teacher at Lincoln Elementary School in Addison, and Ashley Stevenson ’13, a first-grade teacher at Bower Elementary School in Wheaton.

A second workshop on “Communicating with Parents” was presented by Jena Rutter ’05 McKinnon, who teaches second grade at Butler Elementary School in Lockport.

The first-year teacher panel was led by three recent graduates: Abel Sánchez ’14, a Spanish teacher at West Aurora High School; Lupe Gallardo Escobedo ’14, and third/fourth-grade bilingual teacher at Johnson Elementary School in Aurora; and Matt Zemke ’14, an eighth-grade science teacher at Hickory Creek Middle School in Frankfort.

Two final workshops were held. The first, titled “I Survived and So Will You: Tips for the First Three Years of Teaching,” was presented by Mike Schwartz ’12, who teaches music at Kipling Elementary School in Deerfield. The second, titled “Facilitating Discussion in the Classroom,” was led by Emilio Saraga ’13, who teaches fifth grade at Harvard Elementary School in Chicago.

Teach First—which aims to recruit and retain first-generation college students who want to become teachers—was launched at North Central in 2008 and is directed by Julie Carballo. The ultimate goal of Teach First is to increase the graduation rate among first-generation students.