Posted November 2, 2016

Strong community ties

Temple students have a reputation for being community-oriented—something that benefits Teach for America. For the second consecutive year, Temple is a top contributor to the organization.

Students volunteering at a local elementary school.
Photography By: 
Ryan Brandenberg
Last year, 33 corps members were accepted by Teach for America from Temple University.

The eighth grade class president at Warren G. Harding Middle School in Northeast Philadelphia was an impressive student. He progressed well in his classes and even participated in AVID, a program designed to help students be successful in school and prepare for college.

There was just one thing holding him back: He wasn’t a confident public speaker—something that became apparent when he was asked to give a speech on how the AVID program has helped him. That’s where Marquis Roberson, SMC ’16, stepped in.

As a volunteer at the school, Roberson worked with the student on his speech and shared tips for how to best present himself. After just a few hours together, the student was transformed.

“He made the teachers cry with his speech. Everyone said he was a star,” said Roberson. “I said to myself, ‘Maybe I can do this.’”

It was the experience with that eighth grader, and all of the students he worked with at Harding Middle School, that made Roberson apply for Teach for America.

A lot of Temple students have the desire to stay in Philly because they’ve formed relationships with schools around the university.
-- Lexi Gordon, TFA recruitment manager for Temple

Roberson, now a Teach for America corps member at Frankford High School, doesn’t stand alone with his interest in working with the Philadelphia community. He shares this passion with many other Owls, resulting in Temple being a top contributor to Teach for America. This year, 25 graduates were accepted into the organization.

In his sophomore year at Temple, Roberson took a service learning course that connected him with the AVID program at Harding Middle School. He loved working with the children—so much that each year, he would increase his time commitment to the school.

“At Temple, there are so many ways to get involved,” said Lexi Gordon, TFA recruitment manager for Temple. “I look for students with a service-oriented mindset and strong leadership skills.”

Teach for America corps members can be placed at any participating high-need school in the country, but Gordon has found that Temple students feel a dedication to their home, Philadelphia.

“A lot of Temple students have the desire to stay in Philly because they’ve formed relationships with schools around the university,” said Gordon. “I was a corps member in 2012 and taught at 21st and Norris streets for four years. I saw so many Temple students support the school, it really speaks to the power and impact of Temple students. They don’t jump to conclusions or believe stereotypes about the area.”

As Roberson puts it, Temple just understands Philly’s students.