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Dylan Jones C’15 is among four recent graduates working for Teach For America.
Photo: Timothy Jones

Four more alumni enter the program, raising Drew’s total to 37 teachers in 25 years.

February 2016 – Four members of Drew University’s Class of 2015 are back in the classroom, but this time they’re giving the lessons.

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Jones teaches at an elementary school in Mississippi.
Photo: Timothy Jones

Dylan Jones, Jayce Lebon, Claudia Martinez and Neftali Rodriguez are working for Teach for America, the non-profit whose mission is “to enlist, develop, and mobilize as many as possible of our nation’s most promising future leaders to grow and strengthen the movement for educational equity and excellence.”

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He’s focused on making math more rigorous.
Photo: Timothy Jones

Participants teach for at least two years in public or public charter schools in some 50 communities in the U.S. The program’s first teachers entered classrooms in 1990, and since then 37 Drew graduates have signed up, according to Teach for America Communications Director Elora Tocci.

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For his efforts, he became teacher of the year at Inverness Elementary School.
Photo: Timothy Jones

Jones studied economics and political science at Drew. He was a member of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee, which sparked his passion for education. For TFA, he teaches at Inverness Elementary School in Inverness, Mississippi.

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‘My passion for education was developed and cultivated during my tenure at Drew.’
Photo: Timothy Jones

Certified in both middle school mathematics and secondary social studies, Jones is focusing on increasing the rigor of the school’s math curriculum and aligning it to Common Core State Standards. Jones won the school’s Teacher of the Year award for his efforts, which means his name will go in the hat for District Teacher of the Year and, if he wins that, he’ll then be nominated for Mississippi Teacher of the Year.

Jones chose Drew, he said, “because I did not want to be trained for a job, I wanted to be trained for a passion, and my passion for education was developed and cultivated during my tenure at Drew.”

Lebon, who studied anthropology as an undergraduate, wants to help the next generation of students the way his teachers had helped guide him, Tocci said. He teaches at Kate Bond Middle School in Memphis, Tennessee.

Martinez, an English major at Drew, was inspired by high school teachers who sparked her interest in empowering marginalized communities. She teaches at Academia Antonia Alonso in Wilmington, Delaware.

Religion major Rodriguez is passionate about serving his hometown of Newark, N.J. and building intimate connections with his students to ensure they participate effectively and find success in the classroom, according to Tocci. His assignment: Roseville Community Charter School in Newark.

Tocci was effusive about the contributions of Drew alumni to TFA through the years, noting that they “bring a great diversity of perspective, experience and background to high-need classrooms all across the country, and are really helping to move the needle for kids.”

Drew and Teach for America

Since Teach for America first entered U.S. classrooms in 1990, 37 Drew alumni have participated in the program. The first was Lisa Siegmann C’89, who was part of the first wave. And in recent years, Drew participation has accelerated, with the school contributing 14 teachers in the past five years alone:

2015

Dylan Jones

Jayce Lebon

Claudia Martinez

Neftali Rodriguez

2014

Kristina Farmer

Karina Russ

Rita Della Valle

Simone Labine

Jaime Ballesteros

2013

Marcela Wilk

Christine Felix

Bethany Nick

2010

Jennifer Esposito

Nora Chambers

Source: Teach for America. Drew had no participants in 2011 or 2012.