Bringing together multiple voices, organizations, and community members, Jacksonville residents have taken action to improve education in the city and ensure that every child has access to an excellent education. Statistics can be grounding – for example, Duval County Public Schools’ (DCPS) 8th graders from low-income communities are half as likely to be proficient in reading and math as their affluent peers.
Those exact statistics fuel community efforts to work toward educational equity for our students, and they’re what compel alumni like Tristan Thompson (Jacksonville ’13) to empower his students to be catalysts for change. Founding a student poetry club in addition to his other teaching duties, Tristan says that helping his students find their voices, through written poetry or spoken word, “makes teaching worthwhile.”
Teach For America – Jacksonville (TFA – Jax) has been joining forces with the city since 2008 to make change in students’ lives. We have more than 180 alumni working alongside parents, other educators, community partners, and students themselves to equalize educational opportunities in our schools, and the positive energy and sense of possibility have been nothing if not contagious.
“[Jacksonville’s greatest opportunities have] been an infusion of people coming in that love Jacksonville and bring in new ideas, actually contributing in a way that one could conclude is for the most part positive,” said Nathaniel Glover, Edward Waters College President and Jacksonville’s first elected African American Sheriff.
And over the last eight years, TFA-Jax has endeavored to attract and retain just those people, growing our enrollment over 50 percent, and continuing to bring passionate leaders, from Florida and beyond, to serve and lead. We have a network of change makers serving and leading in DCPS schools, in educational nonprofits, and in other sectors across the city, and we couldn’t be prouder to call Jacksonville home.