Teach for America, the non-profit group that sends elite college grads to teach in inner-city schools for two years, is setting up to have a banner year this fall in Houston.
The organization says it will place 250 new teachers in the Houston area this year, a record, bringing the total number of TFA teachers here to about 450.
Part of the money to hire the graduates comes from a state grant targeted to Houston, Dallas and the Valley; other funds come from private donations like grants from the Arnold Family Foundation.
"I am pleased to welcome such a large group of our nation's best and brightest young people into Houston's classrooms next fall, and I look forward to seeing the impact they will have on our students in both the short and the long term," HISD superintendent Abe Saavedra said in a release.
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The competition to get into TFA can be intense -- last year 35,000 applications were received for 3,500 slots -- and it does attract some stellar students.
According to a 2007 release from the organization, applicants that year included:
11 percent of the senior classes at Amherst and Spelman; 10 percent of those at University of Chicago and Duke; and more than eight percent of the graduating seniors at Notre Dame, Princeton and Wellesley. Among the 2007 applicants were the student body presidents of Bowdoin, Spelman, Wellesley and Tufts; the president of the senior class at the College of the Holy Cross; and the presidents of the student and class councils at Brown and George Washington universities, respectively.
Students who become TFA teachers (through an alternative-certification program) receive their normal school-district salary and an additional voucher usually used to pay down student loans.