|TFA 2002 - Proud of my City Champion Debaters, Aida and Hilda|
A little background: I was a Teach for America (TFA) corps member 12 years ago. I taught high school English, Drama, and Debate at Benito Juarez Community Academy in Chicago. Aside from being a mom, it was the best experience of my life.
I learned about public health about a year after I finished TFA. My husband was starting medical school, and while I was interested in adolescents and health, I don't deal well with bodily fluids, needles, or sick people. For me, the prevention focus in public health was perfect: a mix of theory and practice, with a focus on action. I had become a very passionate health educator.
So an MPH, a PhD, and several years of work experience later, I was still looking for ways to reconnect with the classroom, now through public health. It surprised me that in 21 years of existence, TFA had not had any large scale partnerships with any school of public health – especially since the second part of TFA’s mission is to have alumni working in sectors that directly impact education. At the same time I was seeking the connection from my work at Rollins, a group of health-focused corps members in Atlanta were seeking the same type of connection.
Enter ConnectEd4Health... We found each other and got to work right away! ConnectEd 4 Health is the first big partnership of TFA with public health, starting here in Atlanta. Here's what we do:
- Develop health resources for TFA corps members’ classrooms and schools.
- Develop health education and intervention opportunities for Rollins students, staff, and faculty.
- Create health-related professional development opportunities for TFA corps members.
- Create public health career development opportunities for students of TFA corps members.
- Develop health and education advocacy initiatives and skill-building opportunities for TFA corps members and Rollins students.
To date, Classroom to Community is the largest initiative of our nascent collaboration. We've raised approximately $13,000 to support the program and look forward to using it to leverage additional funding in the future.
So what is Classroom to Community? This class is designed to:
- Equip public health students with the knowledge and skills needed to become effective health educators and school health partners.
- Inspire a passion for teaching and a drive towards public health leadership.
It's a mix of scholarship, observation, hands-on practice, and lots of reflection and discussion. We're basically teaching Rollins students how to teach using the same framework (Teaching as Leadership) as TFA, then putting them in the classroom to observe, teach, and be mentored by TFA teachers.
It's going to be a great semester. We had 37 students apply for this program, including students from across Rollins (Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, Global Health, Environmental Health, and others), a few alumni, and even students from the Candler School of Theology! In the end, we selected our top 15 students, then matched them with an all-star group of TFA teachers who also went through an application process. Throughout the semester, the students and their TFA partners will be posting on our class blog. We invite your thoughtful questions and comments to their posts.
Tonight is our kick off event, and our first class session is next week. I'm really looking forward to the semester and the exciting things that will come from our new partnership!
Many thanks to Rollins Career Services, Kristin Unzicker, and the Emory Office of University-Community Partnerships for making this class financially possible (not to mention the hard work and immense support of many others at Emory and TFA).
Ariela Freedman, Course Instructor
Assistant Research Professor
Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education
Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University