Tyler West ’16 is a student of principle who walks the walk.
After graduating from CMC this spring, West, who accepted a Fulbright in Thailand to teach English in 2017, will head east to do just that before moving to New Orleans, La., for a teaching stint with Teach For America (TFA), a national nonprofit working to expand educational opportunity for low-income students. TFA Corps members commit to teach for two years in high-need urban or rural public schools. Many become lifelong leaders in pursuit of educational equity.
A Psychology major with a Leadership sequence, West was also a varsity member of CMC’s football team during his first year and he joins a roster of 118 CMC students who have taught at TFA schools throughout the organization’s 25-year history.
“Two summers ago, I taught English in Phuket, Thailand, through CMC’s sponsored internship program and then returned to campus the following year and taught pre-k at The Children’s School and Claremont and loved it,” West says. “Based on this teaching experience, I believed TFA would be a great position for me to start my career.”
Although “The Big Easy” might be a bit of a misnomer as far as teaching underprivileged children, West says he’s up for the challenge.
“I definitely want to bring art and expression into the classroom more for these young kids,” he says. “That is something it took me far too long to discover my love for, so I hope to bring my students to new sights, show them new art, and put the materials in their hands so they can explore themselves and the world.”
According to Elora Tocci, a Prospect Communications Director for TFA, West was “impressively strong” across all the above areas. “Tyler demonstrated a true passion for improving low-income communities and has a great record of achievement and leadership (including his time as dorm hall president),” she says.
Tocci says that when evaluating candidates for the TFA program, a host of factors is considered, including the person’s record of academic achievement, demonstrated leadership skills, time spent in and dedication to serving low-income communities, critical thinking and relationship-building skills.
“We’ve found that our accepted applicants who possess these skills have been able to make an incredible impact on the kids they serve,” she says.
For West, the TFA selection process included an online application, a phone interview, a series of light testing on situational skills and then a final in-person interview, during which he presented a five-minute lesson plan to the group.
In his TFA role in New Orleans, West will serve as a lead classroom teacher and will be responsible for all the duties that come with the job, including lesson planning, building relationships with parents, managing his classroom and delivering his lessons.
“Students like Tyler bring a dedication to high standards and achievement,” Tocci says. “Male students of color like Tyler bring a perspective that’s incredibly urgent in today’s K-12 schools. Our country’s public schools are highly diverse and only continuing to diversify, but just 2% of teachers are black males. When males of color like Tyler enter the classroom, they serve as important role models for kids and can often connect with students on a deep, personal level. When students get to learn from accomplished adults who look like them, they thrive.”
Teach For America works in partnership with communities to expand educational opportunity for children facing the challenges of poverty. Founded in 1990, TFA recruits and develops a diverse corps of outstanding college graduates and professionals to make an initial two-year commitment to teach in high-need schools and become lifelong leaders in the movement to end educational inequity. In the 2013-14 school year, the TFA Corps included 11,000 teachers in 48 urban and rural regions across the country. Today, TFA’s 37,000 alumni are working across sectors to ensure that all children have access to an excellent education.