Teach For America launches tutoring initiative with Bertie County Public Schools

Published 3:20 pm Friday, December 2, 2022

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Teach For America North Carolina announced on Nov. 15 their launch of the Ignite Fellowship, a high-impact tutoring initiative in partnership with Bertie County Public Schools that provides customized small group learning opportunities for students designed to accelerate learning and foster belonging.

Sourced from a national talent pool of exceptional and diverse leaders, the Ignite Fellows are part of a historic expansion of the services Teach For America offers to North Carolina. The Ignite Tutors will offer personalized learning experiences for students while also receiving coaching and support from veteran teachers.

“As our students are still recovering from learning loss due to the pandemic, we are excited about this opportunity to partner with Teach For America to assist Bertie County Schools with our efforts to provide our middle school students rich opportunities to ensure they will experience positive academic outcomes,” said Dr. Otis L. Smallwood, Superintendent of Bertie County Public Schools.

The Ignite Fellowship shifts how and with whom learning is happening by virtually connecting students to exceptional and diverse leaders from across the country who bring a dual focus on academic acceleration and social emotional learning. Students need to feel connected with educators to grow academically, and Ignite fellows focus on building relationships and fostering belonging by respecting students’ multiple identities, affirming their capacity to succeed, and recognizing their agency and contributions.

The Ignite program model leverages best practices for high-impact tutoring, including alignment with school academic curriculum, low fellow-to-student ratios, and sessions at least three times weekly during the school day. Fellows receive ongoing training from Teach For America and their schools, and Teach For America will measure the academic and personal growth of students through surveys and school-based assessments.

Teach For America is committed to diversifying the educator workforce and removing barriers to the teaching profession, as research shows that students benefit from having teachers who share their racial and cultural backgrounds. The Ignite Fellowship is bringing a diverse group of exceptional, equity-minded leaders into classrooms virtually to expand access to individualized learning for students in Eastern North Carolina.

In its pilot year, the Ignite Fellowship brought 728 tutors to dozens of public schools across the country in the 2021-2022 school year, 61% of whom identified as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color. Nearly 100% of the inaugural cohort of Fellows said they gained new insights about the state of education and their role in working towards educational equity.

“We are eager to build capacity in classrooms in an innovative and responsive way to help students make up for lost learning, and this first service expansion for Teach For America in North Carolina aligns with that,” said Dr. Monique Perry-Graves, executive director of Teach For America North Carolina. “Our hope is that Ignite will provide students with the support they need in order to thrive, while also attracting a diverse cohort of strong leaders to North Carolina who are committed to educational equity.”

The Ignite Fellowship is one of several key initiatives Teach For America has launched to drive progress towards its 2030 goal, in which they aim to double the number of students reaching key educational milestones, indicating that they are on a path to economic mobility and co-creating a future filled with possibility.

“What differentiates Teach For America in some ways is our ability to leverage our national talent pool to attract leaders to the state in service of educational equity—Ignite is not any different,” said Dr. Perry-Graves. “We need as many leaders as possible in this work to holistically meet the needs of our students right now, particularly in North Carolina.”