Jonathan Van Dongen
Jonathan Van Dongen

University supplies 43 teachers in 27 years.

May 2017 – Teach For America is welcoming four more graduates of Drew University this year.

Rachel Tavani
Rachel Tavani

Jonathan Van Dongen will teach math in Jackson, Miss. and Rachel Tavani will teach English in Memphis, Tenn. Nancy Moemen and Micaela Reininga, meanwhile, are heading to New York City to teach English and special education students, respectively.

Participants work for at least two years in urban or rural areas. Teach For America, which began in 1990, aims to “enlist, develop and mobilize” America’s “most promising future leaders to grown and strengthen the movement for educational equity and excellence.”

Nancy Moemen
Nancy Moemen

Van Dongen, a Civic Scholar, majored in psychology and minored in political science at Drew. He also coordinated the student-run Volunteer Resource Center and interned at the Newark, N.J. office of U.S. Sen. Cory Booker.

He sees Teach For America as a continuation of his years of civic engagement. “When you provide service, you can have a deeper impact by addressing short-term effects of social issues while addressing its initial causes,” Van Dongen said. “That’s what I hope to do.”

Micaela Reininga
Micaela Reininga

Tavani, a Baldwin Honors Scholar, had a dual major—international relations and French—and minored in creative writing. Her off-campus experiences included the Semester on the United Nations in New York City and programs in France, Ireland and Canada.

Her Teach For America assignment will take her to Trezevant High School in Memphis, where she hopes to “help the students in my English classroom love the written word just as much as I do.”

Moemen majored in political science and government and minored in German. On campus, she worked at the Center for Academic Excellence, earning a nomination for Student Employee of the Year.

As a teacher, she’ll be based at Launch Expeditionary Learning Charter School in Brooklyn, where she intends to “build long-lasting relationships with the faculty and my students and help students use writing as a way to express themselves.”

Reininga earned a bachelor’s in psychology, with a minor in dance. She also participated in several dance shows, including the spring 2017 show, Reaching Back to Move Forward, for which she was a choreographer.

When asked what she hopes to accomplish as a special ed teacher, she said, “I want my students to feel secure and safe while we work together to achieve their goals and then to exceed their goals.”

Drew has been a fruitful source of leaders for Teach For America. Since the program’s inception 27 years ago, 43 graduates have been selected to participate.