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Teach for America moves to Westchester, Queens this fall

Teach for America is moving to the ‘burbs. The program will send 5 to 10 recruits to Westchester County this fall, where they’ll teach in a district that serves special education students from across the state.

In contrast to New York City, where Teach For America places hundreds of teachers every year, the Greenburgh-Graham Union Free School District has just two schools and about 350 students, all of whom come from low-income families and have severe special needs. All of the TFA teachers there will have special education certification, said a spokeswoman for the organization, Kerci Marcello Stroud.

One reason for the upstate expansion is that working in Greenburgh-Graham helps TFA fulfill its mission of helping at-risk students, Stroud said. There’s also the fact that the New York schools the organization usually works with, in New York City, are shutting new teachers out right now because of the city’s budget-induced hiring restrictions.

Teach For America’s New York City chapter admitted fewer applicants this year and is planning to have a far higher proportion of them teach at charter schools, which are not subject to the hiring restrictions. The handful of teachers going to Greenburgh-Graham were admitted to the New York Region and will go through the same hiring process as any other candidate, Marcello Stroud told me.

TFA is also placing teachers in Queens for the first time in more than a decade, according to an e-mail sent to corps members and alumni this morning. The national organization has placed teachers in New York City schools since its launch 20 years ago.