TFA Starts Summer Study Program As Training Ground For Nashville Recruits

Mother Rita Mathe speaks at an announcement of Teach for America's new summer program in Nashville. Credit: Blake Farmer / WPLN

Mother Rita Mathe speaks at an announcement of Teach for America’s new summer program in Nashville. Credit: Blake Farmer / WPLN

Teach for America has launched a summer program for kids in Nashville meant to kill two birds with one stone. It’s a training ground for TFA recruits as well as a way to prevent what’s known as “summer learning loss” for kids who might otherwise spend June and July in front of a TV.

Metro Schools officials say it’s no wonder that some students return in the fall and seem to have fallen behind. More than 10,000 kids come from homes where English isn’t necessarily spoken around the dinner table. Rita Mathe says her third-grade daughter will be better off in the five-week summer program.

“I help her a little bit,” Mathe says. “My English is not too…very well.”

Mathe’s daughter will be taught by incoming Teach for America recruits – high-achieving college grads who commit to spending a few years teaching. In previous years, TFA has sent its newly-hired Nashville teachers off to either Atlanta or the Mississippi Delta to practice teaching in similar summer programs.

“We think that education is a very local and community driven affair,” says Shani Jackson Dowell, TFA’s Nashville director. “So for our teachers to learn in the community where they’re going to teach is a unique opportunity.”

TFA’s Nashville program has room for roughly 1,000 kids. Sites will be at Glencliff and McGavock high schools as well as Cole Elementary in Antioch, which already has a waiting list.

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