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An Encore in Teach For America? Absolutely!


I've long felt that the encore movement needed its own Teach For America, a social innovation so powerful that it not only helped a significant number of individuals transition into work with real social impact – but changed the culture in the process.

Teach For America – which trains people to become teachers, through hands-on assignments at urban and rural public schools – has certainly provided that opportunity for high-achieving young people, making work in education a new definition of success. But it turns out that Teach For America isn't just for those recent college graduates.

During a visit to Denver, I met Paula Lopez Crespin, a former credit union executive whose daughter had gone through Teach For America. Watching her daughter in front of a Los Angeles elementary school classroom sparked an epiphany. Crespin realized she wanted to have the same impact on young people, and that same sense of purpose.

So she followed in her daughter's footsteps – turning the old adage on its head – and entered the Teach For America program. Soon Crespin, then in her late 50s, was sharing a dorm room in Houston with three 22-year-olds, in the midst of launching her encore career as a teacher.

Though a small portion of Teach For America is made up of encore-age professionals like Crespin, the representation of encore-age leaders has been increasing.

Now Teach For America, which encourages people from all professional backgrounds and ages to apply, is soliciting a new round of candidates for the program. The organization has encouraged us to reach out to you to join the 2013 Teach For America corps. Participants commit to teach for two years in urban and rural low-income communities and, according to the organization, “become lifelong leaders in expanding educational opportunity.”

The application deadline is Friday, February 15. Apply here.

I hope you will think seriously about joining this extraordinary effort!