Letter to the Editor: Monday, January 27, 2014

By Ben Koch

To the Editor,

As an early career teacher, collaboration with veteran educators is a key element in my work and a contributing factor to my students’ success.  As a result, reading Simon Brown’s recent column about Teach For America seemed like a great chance to address misconceptions. The mischaracterization

that corps members are pitted against teachers undermines collaborative efforts to expand educational opportunity. As a 12th grade teacher in a high-need neighborhood of Philadelphia, I’ve felt welcomed and supported by

my colleagues, who don’t distinguish me from other novice teachers at our school.

This fall, my colleagues honored me by offering me a leadership position within our school. I was eager to accept the role, which entails establishing a credit recovery program for seniors falling behind on their graduation

requirements. In just a few weeks, we’ll launch the program, through which we’ll connect them with additional resources tailored to their needs and keep them focused on the goal of graduation.

As a Pitt senior, I decided to join Teach For America because education is a family tradition in my household. Principal and teacher weren’t just my parents’ titles — their identities as educators shaped our way of life. With their support, I earned a spot at Pitt, where I had amazing educational opportunities. My Pitt banner hangs over the door of my classroom and inspires students to reach for their own goals. Current Pitt undergrads have an opportunity to take the skills and knowledge they’ve developed at our world-class university and find a professional pathway where they can make the biggest difference. Whether through Teach For America or another route, education needs more passionate advocates working together to change the status quo for our kids and communities.

Ben Koch

Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences 2013

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