The independent student newspaper of Goucher College

Category archive

Goucher - page 2

Welcome to the Office of Public Safety!

by

Located on the ground floor of Huebeck, is the Office of Public Safety. To many, this is a safe haven and to some, unexplored territory. Established in 2007, Public Safety has worked to keep our campus safe through many programs and services. Now, 10 years later, they have made significant changes to campus, and have more in the works for the future. I sat down with Director David Heffer, to find out more!

“We consider ourselves to be very proactive. We don’t wait for a problem to arise before we try to solve it.” -David Heffer, Director of Public Safety Photo Credit: Usha Kaul

Q: How long have you been director and how many officers make up the squad?

A: I have been the Director of Public Safety since August, 2015 [and]  our force is made up of about 35 officers including full and part timers.

Q: What do you look for in an officer when you are hiring?

A: There are a number of factors that we look for when hiring public safety officers.  Previous experience in public safety and customer service is helpful.  We also look for individuals with positive attitudes who have a real passion for helping people.  The office appreciates a diverse workforce and strives to sustain that diversity.  The job of being a public safety officer is demanding both physically and mentally so we look for individuals who can make good decisions under difficult circumstances.

Q: What are some responsibilities of our officers?

A: We always have an officer at the gatehouse, the communications center, patrolling the residential side and the academic side of the campus.  We also post an officer at the Athenaeum overnight.  We do staff large planned events.

Q: What have been the recent changes to some of the campus resources and what has sparked them?

A: A number of changes have been made around campus including; closing off the pond and the back gate to vehicular traffic; inserting cameras into the blue emergency phones on campus to see the emergency; and the new app 911Shield.

Heffer has been “told that our user adoption rate (for 911Shield) is one of the highest of any type of this product in the country.  Many campuses use this type of product but we utilize a system that mitigates some of the deficiencies we have with GPS location on campus by using Wi-Fi.”

Heffer brought me into his office and explained the app, and allowed me to test it out and see how it rings in the office and how my location can be detected no matter where I am. The hope is to never have to use this app, but, in the case of an emergency, I’ll be prepared.

Some other changes to the campus include face-to-face emergency training with new staff members to ensure their complete understanding and proficiency in emergency situations. Public Safety has also updated their website that lists services and also allows people to easily report concerns anonymously. There is also a new ID policy in place, where all persons are checked at the front gate (pedestrians and vehicles) after 8pm. The athenaeum goes through a full sweep every night at midnight by the officer on duty.

Students and their families have raised the concern that vehicles and pedestrians are not stopped at the gate house. According to Heffer, “We now have staff there 24 hours a day 7 days a week during academic session.  Vehicles are stopped after 8pm every day of the week.”

Q: What are some public safety changes that are coming soon?

A: We hope to increase the number of cameras on campus as well as reconsider some of our traffic control patterns.  We also actively monitor situations occurring on other college campuses as well as around the nation to identify issues that might impact us so that we can develop strategies to prevent and/or mitigate the impacts.

In response to a question about the connection between campus culture and safety, and there is no comment at this time.

“The job of being a public safety officer is demanding both physically and mentally so we look for individuals who can make good decisions under difficult circumstances.” -David Heffer, Director of Public Safety. Photo Credit: Usha Kaul

To close, here are some programs and services offered by Public Safety:

They help run the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). They are the home of the famous Lost and Found. They provide support in emergencies.

Feel uncomfortable walking around campus? Call up Public Safety and they are happy to help out!

Lose that one card again? No worries! They can print you another!

Locked out again? Just call the office and they will be happy to help!

Register your vehicle!

Register your visitor!

Report incidents! They’ll go in the Q’s Public Safety Blotter, which can be found on the following page.

USHA KAUL

This Month in Goucher History

by
Photo Credit: Goucher College Digital Archives

 

At Goucher, we have the luxury of having all of our publications digitally archived! Any student here can access old issues of the Quindecim through the library website. When examining these issues, it is interesting to see how our college has evolved over the years. This time of year, when winter break and finals are coming up, is especially fun to look back at in Goucher’s history to see what was happening.

Photo Credit: Goucher College Digital Archives

December 14th, 1922: The Goucher Weekly came out on December 14th, 1922 and had some interesting events happening on campus. Goucher’s debate team, called the Agora, held a debate about whether fraternities should be allowed on Goucher’s campus. Three faculty judges sided with the team that said fraternities shouldn’t be allowed, on the grounds that they are undemocratic, lower academic standing, and destroy college unity.

The student decorum committee submitted a small poem, which said that, “A Goucher girl upon the street/ Should look precise and very neat”.

December 1st, 1950: This issue of the Goucher Weekly reported that Robert Frost spoke to a huge, campus audience. He shared that he usually wrote his poems with logic in mind at first, then moved on to a witty idea. He also stated that he especially enjoyed writing ‘eclogues’ (a poem in classical style) for the same reason he enjoyed chewing tobacco: because women couldn’t do it.

There was an editorial written on communism, critiquing the policy of the Red Scare. The student who wrote the editorial also recounted an incident where a Baltimore man ranted about how all Communists should be in jail. When the man realized that the student did not agree, he said, “You’re from Goucher aren’t you? That place is loaded with Communists, too!”

December 1st, 1999: This issue of the Quindecim reported that Muslim students were struggling to have accommodations made for Ramadan at Goucher. The student writer raised dietary concerns, in part regarding the availability of food during Ramadan, and emphasized the need for a prayer room for Muslim students.

There was an article which raised concerns with the addition of the shuttle stop by the Towson Town Center. Goucher had been the first college in the area to set up a shuttle system for students. The Collegetown shuttle had only been established a few years earlier, and was being expanded. Students worried that adding additional stops would make it harder to come to class on time. One student complained that the shuttle was supposed to be for “educational purposes and not for mall stops.”

Goucher was also undergoing construction at this time, similar to our campus currently. One article comments about how Stimson was built ‘nearly half a century ago’ and needs to be replaced soon. Goucher was also changing to more electronic systems, putting in place the OneCard system and implementing online class registration.

December 10th, 2003: In December 2003, the Quindecim reported that Goucher was still under construction. There was an article detailing the plans for building the Athenaeum. Goucher was also revamping its curriculum and finding new ways to integrate general education requirements.

Additionally, Goucher was trying to find new solutions to busy dining halls. Pearlstone was seeing much more student traffic than Stimson and was overcrowded, which meant it had difficulty keeping food in stock.

An Alternative Solution

by

It probably had something to do with all the ideological softballs thrown his way during his speaking event at our school a few weeks ago, but by the end of the night, Charles Blow’s comfort with a friendly audience steered him to say something intriguing. Towards the end of the lecture, Mr. Blow fielded a question that led him to declare what he considers to be one of the constitutional crises of our time: the fact that less than a majority of our voting populace can vote for a presidential candidate, and that he or she can still be elected as the leader of the free world. Of course, what Mr. Blow was referring to is the fact that Hillary Clinton received over two million more votes than Donald Trump and was not rewarded the presidency. While I believe Mr. Blow would be singing a different tune had Mrs. Clinton won the electoral college with less than a majority of the popular vote, this is not what piques my interest.

“Towards the end of the lecture, Mr. Blow fielded a question that led him to declare what he considers to be one of the constitutional crises of our time: the fact that less than a majority of our voting populace can vote for a presidential candidate, and that he or she can still be elected as the leader of the free world.” Photo Credit: The New York Times

As Mr. Blow told it, politically and culturally like-minded individuals are increasingly moving into areas together; Democrats and liberals to urban/suburban areas, Republicans and conservatives to rural ones. He went on to suggest that this meant Democrats are getting a raw deal when it comes to electoral politics, because they are concentrating all of their votes in small geographic areas and essentially watering down their vote. He is hardly the first person to subscribe to this “Big Sort” idea, and while I think it is an oversimplification, I agree with the general premise of the argument. His remedy to this, which a sizable chunk of the left—and surely the right if they had been on the losing end of last year’s presidential campaign—believes to be the proper diagnosis, is to change our electoral system. While he did not explicitly say that we should get rid of the electoral college, this seemed to be the insinuation. However, perhaps changing how we elect our officials is not the proper remedy; maybe we should change our relationship with the government and how we view it, instead of fundamentally altering the Constitution.
Like a significant number of Americans, I am very concerned about what a Trump Presidency might still bring. However, when I think about why I have this concern, it has less to do with the man than the immense power that comes with leading the federal government. Anybody who paid attention to Barack Obama’s Presidency and to a lesser extent, his predecessor’s, saw just how much power they wielded. Now, a man who should never be anywhere near this kind of power is in control. The state of hysteria that the media and the left have been in for a year concerning Republican control over the Presidency and Congress is due to the power that the Federal government holds. The right would be in a similar state of hysteria if Mrs. Clinton had been elected, and/or if the Democrats had control over Congress.
Perhaps rather than drive ourselves crazy about who controls the government, maybe we should focus on what the government is allowed to control. One of the easiest ways to alleviate the growing state of tribalism and dysfunction that currently exists in our political system and culture, is to reduce the size of government. This way, every time the presidency, house, or senate flips—as they seem to do with increasing frequency—we are not losing our minds when our tribe isn’t in control. The answer is not to change the Constitution, but to lean on it more heavily, and reduce the arbitrary power in Washington that has consistently grown each decade since the early 1900’s.
While many will consider this argument to be “conservative” in nature, it is actually one that would suit many liberals at this point in time. You don’t like how undemocratic it seems that Mr. Trump got elected? Consider subscribing to the limited government point of view, because the larger government becomes the less democratic and accountable it becomes. Furthermore, if the right is as crazy as the left suggests, they should be extremely interested in reducing the power of government, given the right’s choke-hold on Gubernatorial offices and state legislatures across the country.
This idea should work for people of all ideological backgrounds, aside from socialists. When we remove the government from places that it does not obviously need to be, the market and mediating institutions (voluntary organizations, churches, the media, etc) take over. The beautiful thing about the market is that it provides multiple choices and is unbiased when it picks winners and losers. Furthermore, unlike the government, mediating institutions allow citizens to pick what best suits them. Any market—be it the marketplace for ideas, kept alive by the First Amendment, the market for environmental sustainability, or the traditional market for products—will ultimately find an equilibrium as long as it is not interfered with. While there are places where the government must involve itself, such as with the regulation of the environment, or with business trusts, there are other places that it simply does not belong. Currently, any time there is an inefficiency in a market, many Americans want to turn to the government to solve the problem. However, when there is a government inefficiency, we don’t apply the same scrutiny, and often just double down on the overreach, instead of trying to reverse the trend.
We will all be much more comfortable with members of ideological affiliations unlike ours, in power, if we rely on the rules, laws, and amendments that have successfully governed us for so long, rather than expanding the reach of government to assist our ideological affiliations each time we find ourselves in power.

Professional Clothing from the CDO

by

 

 

As the fall semester slowly comes to an end, we know you’re excited to put your newly acquired networking skills to use and land your dream internship during J-term, the spring semester, and perhaps even the summer. The Career Development Office recognizes that the internship search process and job search in general can be very hectic. We’d like to help you take one thing off your plate!
Professional attire is a vital element of any interview, job, or internship experience. We know that sometimes it is not so simple to figure out what to wear to a professional meeting or setting. You no longer have to worry about what’s ‘too casual’ or ‘too formal’ thanks to the CDO Professional Clothing Closet. The Professional Clothing Closet is completely free and open to all students. Whether you need a whole outfit or just another item of clothing or two, it is here to serve you! Thanks to the many donations of our faculty, staff, and alums, the closet is stocked with a wide array items such as blazers, suits, jackets, blouses, slacks, sweaters, collared button-ups, skirts, dresses, ties, and shoes (in both men and women’s styles) in a number of sizes. This semester alone, we’ve received over two hundred new donations for our closet. We are also sponsored by Zips for dry cleaning so that the clothes are clean and ready for you to pick up and keep. Do not miss out! Over twenty students have already used this service this semester. In addition to finding an outfit, you can get a LinkedIn headshot taken by the CDO staff.
Stop by the CDO in Van Meter 117, Monday-Friday, from 10am-4pm to check out the closet. Tell your friends or bring one along!

Charles Blow: Musings on Modern activism

by

On November 1st, visual op-ed columnist for the New York Times, political commentator, and best-selling author, Charles M. Blow, was invited to lecture in Meyerhoff. Addressing the Goucher and wider Towson community, Blow framed his discussion within the context of relationships, resilience, and reflection; a motto adopted by Goucher to describe the ideal outcomes students would gain from their education. While the three Rs were originally meant for usage in an academic setting, Blow applied them to his philosophy behind the fight for equity in an unjust society.

“Blow’s stance on the necessity of open expression is one that has been interpreted by some as a critique of ‘sheltered spaces’ often associated with liberal arts colleges like Goucher.” Photo Credit: John Patterson (via Charles Blow’s Instagram)

Goucher prides itself on its sense of community. In reference to this, Blow began his remarks on with his own thoughts about communities. He pointed out the need for communities that stretch across identity. These types of communities don’t occur as naturally as would be hoped, which Blow explained was the result of an age old idea that “sameness is safety”. As humans, Blow stated, we are attracted to people who are similar to us, and congregate in such groups. He argued that these groups rob us of something important: growth and empathy towards others.
‘Privilege’ and ‘oppression’ were two frequent terms that Blow used. In his remarks, Blow borrowed the words of Toni Morrison to describe racism as “a robbery”. Blow expanded the use of the word to encapsulate all kinds of oppression and to capture a core idea of why these oppressions must be fought against. Discrimination robs us of time, energy, motivation and other personal facets that could have been used in a more productive way, he argued. In this sense, it hurts the whole of society, not just the individuals specifically targeted by it. It must be actively combatted. “Inaction is a choice,” he stated. “If you are not totally against oppression, you are for it.”
Blow regarded the recent election “backlash” as nothing new. He cited it as a pattern that has always been a part of American history. He described the battle for equity as “messy” and a necessary process where “feelings will be hurt.” Blow’s stance on the necessity of open expression is one that has been interpreted by some as a critique of “sheltered spaces” often associated with liberal arts colleges like Goucher. Blow emphasized that the emotional pain associated with open discussions must be felt in order for real progress to be made. “Fragility cannot be the frame for these discussions,” he said. Though he did not state it explicitly, he seemed critical of the concepts that drive ideas like safe spaces and affinity meetings. He argued that fragility made discussion untruthful by leading people to lie to try and make others comfortable. “You have to be hurt,” he emphasized.
Blow also made a few humorous remarks on politics. “You may have heard, I have a few thoughts on that,” Blow joked when he first brought up the topic. Blow commented on politics when he began answering audience questions.  Blow discussed the role of media coverage in politics, particularly during an administration in which the president is an avid tweeter. Blow felt he had an obligation as a journalist to cover Trump’s tweets, yet he made it clear that the president’s behavior, especially toward his disabled colleague Serge Kovaleski, was completely inappropriate.
Another topic brought up through audience questions was the current state of news and media organizations, something which Blow had surprisingly left out of his initial remarks. Blow was particularly critical of news organizations preventing minority reporters from covering stories within their communities. He explained that by assuming minority reporters are “biased” towards other minorities, news organizations are simultaneously claiming that being white, cis, male, Christian, etc. is a “neutral” position. He also criticized the trend toward “snap news”, which is characterized by shorter and shorter segments and “Yelling, yelling, yelling,” as he described.
As his final comments for the evening, Blow reflected on what the end result of advocacy for social justice would look like; What would an equitable world look like? “Liberation looks like the truth,” he finally said.

Goucher Pets: Botticelli the Ferret

by

Botticelli the ferret, owned by Rebecca Silber ’19, is one and a half years old and has been at Goucher since August of 2017. Silber has owned Botticelli for a little over a year.

Botticelli the ferret. Credit: Rebecca Silber

“We met at Petco,” says Silber. “I’d been frequenting the local pet shops looking for the right match for several weeks. I went to visit him multiple times until I knew he was the right one. He was much bigger, and a bit older than the other ferrets because he’d been adopted and returned. The Petco staff said that he’d been returned malnourished, with cigarette burns on his ears. I couldn’t help but get him after hearing that.”
Now, Botticelli doesn’t have to worry about mistreatment. Silber cares for him just as much as he cares for her. As her emotional support animal, Botticelli helps alleviate Silber’s anxiety. “Having him grounds me to the space and allows me to feel a sense of home,” she says. “Having him means I have to be conscious of my surroundings and that I have to be there for him. Sometimes just looking at him helps calm me down, and if I’m having a panic attack I’ll let him out and he’ll run around. Focusing on him means not focusing on myself, and I calm down far quicker.”
Running around is one of Botticelli’s favorite activities, along with digging. Silber’s succulents have been dug up more than a few times, and most of them are now dead. Botticelli also loves cat toys, such as laser pointers and anything with a string. “He’s also a big fan of any sort of bag he can get into, especially if it makes noise while he rustles around,” says Silber.
Though ferrets are a fairly common pet in the United States according to the American Veterinary Association, people often do a double-take when they see Botticelli around campus. “He’s harnessed-trained, though many ferrets aren’t because you have to get them used to the harness as soon as you get them,” says Silber. “A lot of people think he’s a very small dog or kitten when they first see him. They often ask to pet him, which he loves, and he especially loves getting attention from children. I’ve had a lot of older people tell me that they remember ferrets from the ‘80s. He’s a unique one.”
Ferrets come in a variety of colors, including chocolate, silver, albino, and cream. Like cats, ferrets can squeeze themselves into nearly any space, thanks to their flexible rib cage. Unlike cats, though, ferrets require a lot of attention.
“Ferrets aren’t good for inexperienced pet owners. Botticelli can be destructive and loves getting into my trashcan. That he’s deaf doesn’t change the fact that he can be quite mischievous.” According to Silber, about 75% of white ferrets are deaf and affectionately known as Wardys. “Because he’s deaf the construction doesn’t affect him at all. He loves it here! I spend more time with him here than I do at home.”
Ferrets, like otters, are part of the mustelidae family and are carnivores. “[Botticelli] eats a special ferret food that I get off of Amazon. Most of the ferret food in pet stores is the equivalent of junk food for ferrets. Admittedly, he likes junk food a lot more, but I’m trying to be careful because malnutrition can lead to issues with the lymph system. He loves chicken and eggs,” Silber says. “A lot of people will feed their ferrets mice or chicks, but I used to have pet rats and I can’t stomach it.”

Botticelli the ferret. Credit: Rebecca Silber

Botticelli is very friendly and can often be found sleeping, as ferrets sleep about seventeen hours a day. “He’s a great pet for a busy person. If you ever see us out and about, feel free to come say hi.”

First Years Spraypaint Drains to Prevent Pollution

by
Left to Right: Andrew Ackerman, Oliver Dillard, Luke DeWitt, Jolie Price, Erica Bulzomi, and Brady O’Neill Photo Credit: Dr. Cynthia Kicklighter

Earlier this semester, you might have seen groups of people huddling around storm drains, gazing intensely at the pavement. This was probably Dr. Cynthia Kicklighter’s First Year Seminar (FYS). They are learning about marine organisms, and what impacts marine environments. One of the topics they are covering is trash pollution in the ocean, and how trash travels into waterways through storm drains. This trash affects our drinking water, pollutes our oceans, and affects marine life.
In the Towson/Baltimore area, all water entering storm drains eventually arrives at the Chesapeake Bay. Because plastic cannot be digested and it can entangle marine organisms like fish and turtles, plastic trash (like grocery bags, snack bags, etc) is particularly harmful.
In order to educate people on campus about this danger and the fact that all trash from our storm drains will end up in the Chesapeake, Dr. Kicklighter learned how to stencil a storm drain. The training was organized Blue Water Baltimore, an environmental charity focused on restoring the quality of Baltimore’s aquatic systems. She then transferred what she had learned from the organization to her First Year Seminar students, who, in the middle of the semester, spray painted stencils of marine life around the storm drains on campus.
“It was freezing outside,” wrote Jillian Carsud (‘19). But the “hands-on experience” was enjoyable.
Jolie Price (‘19) agreed. “I liked the actual ‘doing’ aspect of spreading awareness instead of just talking about it in class,” she wrote. Both students hoped that their project would cause passersby to pause and consider the stencils, increasing awareness about where our trash goes and who it affects.

Missives From Beyond

by

From the official records of Benji Gutsin, Documentarian of New New Jersey: https://newnewjerseyoffical.tumblr.com/

To Whom it May Concern,
This is an official letter from your local government.
We regret to inform you, the reader of this letter, that the large foreboding eyeball deity, specifically the one residing within your living room foyer, is a part of a new land deal that we have made with our new all-powerful overlords. We understand if this arrangement is uncomfortable. However, for now, there is nothing we can do now or in the foreseeable future. We strongly suggest reaching out to a private contracting service for this matter or that you heavily invest in contact solution, which can be found at your nearest Walgreens™. Do make sure the large eye remains supple and moist while it remains on your property. We hope you have a lovely day.
Sincerely,
The local government of New New Jersey.

Perkington Law #234
Attention all citizens. In light of recent events, a new law has been put into motion. From here and henceforth, any type of news that may now sour someone’s disposition will be told exactly 24 hours after the original situation has commenced. This law does not extend to the reporting of an emergency, nor the report of illegal activity. However, civilians are not permitted to talk about unsavoury events amongst each other until 24 hours after such event have occurred. That is all for now. Have a perky day!

BENJI GUTSIN

High Number of Goucher Grads Teach for America

by
Rae Walker ‘17 is is currently teaching at Dr. Carter G. Woodson Elementary/Middle School (PK-8th). Photo Credit: TFA Baltimore

This past year, Goucher was among the top colleges and universities to contribute new members to the Teach For America 2017 corps. With six alumni joining, Goucher contributed significantly to a nationwide network. This past year was also the first year that students were able to apply early to the program–during their junior year of college. Two Goucher students did so and were accepted.
Teach for America (TFA) is a national organization that certifies recent graduates and others without teaching certification to work as teachers in low-income communities. Applicants fill out an online application and complete a group interview online or in-person. Once accepted, applicants fill out a form with their location preferences from a list of 53 different regions across the nation. TFA teachers commit to teaching for at least two years as full-time salaried employees of the school in which they are placed.
As an organization, TFA focuses on understanding and combating educational inequity, an angle that tends to appeal to Goucher graduates. For Rae Walker (‘17) this was one of the reasons he decided to apply. “[As a public school student], the quality of your education literally depends on your zipcode,” Walker said in an interview. “In Parkville they have iPads while in Cherry Hill, we’re struggling for paper. And that’s needed for the curriculum, because they [the school] don’t buy textbooks.”
Walker graduated from Goucher as an English major with a concentration in creative writing. He knew he wanted to be a teacher, but he dropped his major in education because he believed that focusing on his content area (English) was more important than learning theory.
Walker is currently teaching special education at Dr. Carter G. Woodson Elementary Middle School (PK-8th) in Cherry Hill, Baltimore. He is also working on his Masters in Education at Johns Hopkins and is on track to receive a doctorate in five years.
Walker was drawn to the field of special education because of its relationship to inequity, and the situation that results from the over-diagnosing of students, particularly poor black students. “For gen-ed teachers, [labelling students with an IEP or Individualized Educational Program] is like code for ‘I don’t want to teach you, so I’m going to put you in another class,’ and this can happen as early as 1st grade,” said Walker. Once students are labeled as in need of special education, the effects of that label are difficult to reverse. For Walker, one of the important aspects of teaching special education is advocating for his students.
Teaching in low-income communities requires teachers to be very committed and invested in their students. Lila Stenson (‘17) appreciates the connections she’s been able to make with her students, “learning about their lives and telling them about mine.” Stenson graduated with a degree in Sociology and Spanish and is currently teaching 7th and 8th grade Spanish in Memphis, Tennessee. “It’s really fun to see [my students] grow and get excited when they can say new things in Spanish,” said Stenson.
Walker has also certainly become invested in his students. The Saturday after this interview, he was planning on taking one of his students to the movies because it was their birthday. “I’m a black male figure [in this student’s life], so we’re going to the movies,” Walker said. “On Friday, we’re going to celebrate with a cake.”
Because his special education classes are self-contained, Walker spends all day with the same nine students, who range from 5th grade to 8th grade. According to Walker, it is actually illegal to have over three grade levels together in the same class, but it often happens in Baltimore public schools because of understaffing. TFA works to combat understaffing in schools, but it is not enough. As Stenson states, TFA “really isn’t a long term solution to ending the problems in education.”

Goucher was among the top colleges and universities to contribute new members to the Teach For America 2017 corps. Photo Credit: Teach for America

Stenson became interested in education in part because of her experience working at a summer camp called Breakthrough Collaborative that works with students from under-resourced urban schools. Stenson’s experiences working in local schools through the Office of Community-Based Learning (CBL) added to this interest.
Walker also mentioned one of CBL’s programs, Middle School Mentoring, when talking about what influenced his decision to stay in Baltimore and teach. Both Stenson and Walker highlighted the way in which Goucher encourages students to engage with equity and social justice.
One thing that TFA corps members seem to have in common is their passion for what they do. “I think it is really cool to have a lot of new energy in the teaching field, as a lot of teachers who have been teaching for a while are burnt out,” Stenson wrote in an email interview.
However, because many of the applicants for TFA are young and inexperienced, they also face extra challenges. Stenson has twenty-seven students, which she said is actually a pretty small number compared to some of her coworkers’ classes. She is fortunate to teach a subject (Spanish) that is not tested at the state level, because it comes with more freedom. On the flip side, however, there is also no pre-prepared curriculum for her to use. “I did not major in education and while TFA does pack a lot into their summer training institute, you are still pretty unprepared for teaching everyday on your own. Classroom management and behavior issues are something that I struggle a lot with,” Stenson wrote.
Eliezer (EC) Cartagena (‘18), who did study education and was one of the juniors who applied early to TFA last year, critiqued this aspect of TFA. “TFA tries to train teachers in the summer, which is literally impossible. A lot of people will be woefully unprepared,” said Cartagena.
Cartagena also critiqued the fact that many people use TFA as “a stepping stone,” and move on to other careers. Cartagena emphasizes that students need consistency. “Two years seems like an injustice,” he said.
While many TFA alums move on to other careers, there are also TFA alums who stay in the world of education. As Walker points out, some of the biggest changemakers in Baltimore public schools, the principals of “turnaround schools,” are TFA alums. Cartagena hopes to stay in the school system for at least four years, while Walker sees himself continuing to teach ten years from now.
One of the incentives for applying to TFA are the benefits that come with the program. In addition to offering the opportunity to become certified to teach, TFA offers a summer training institute, an extensive alumni network, affinity group networks with other TFA members, mentor partnerships, and online location guides. TFA also has partnerships with graduate schools. Regional programs either require or encourage TFA corps members to work towards a Masters in Education. Fellowships and awards are also available to help teachers get a financial boost. For Stenson, who was moving to an entirely new city, she appreciated having the support network that came with TFA. “Memphis is a new home, so it is nice to have other people who are new and trying to explore the city as well,” she said.
TFA tries to draw a diverse group of members, and they advertised that their 2017 corps was more diverse than ever. Cartagena highlighted that TFA considers diversity factors besides race, like gender identity and sexual orientation. Walker also mentioned the diversity of educational backgrounds of corps members: “you’ll meet people from across the gamut, from Harvard, Stanford, from your local community college.”
However, despite their diversity of backgrounds, many teachers will face the same challenges. “Teachers are overworked and undervalued, and you need to be really dedicated, because financially you won’t get much from it,” said Cartagena. “Only apply if you’re really passionate about making change happen in school systems.”
Stenson emphasized the importance of flexibility and adaptability. “Things will not run smoothly, materials will not be available, school schedules and student behavior are always unpredictable,” she said. “A lot of this experience is just trying to roll with things.” Walker seconded this. “If administration emails me tonight and says, ‘we’re teaching in the dark tomorrow,’ then I’ll say, ‘okay, I’ll bring a flashlight,’” he said. Walker suggested that teachers should have a “growth mindset”–not just believing that their students can grow, but that, as teachers, they can, too. “You can’t enter the classroom thinking about what happened yesterday,” he said.
Overall, Goucher’s recent graduates who are members of the TFA corps seem proud of the work they’re doing. “It’s a noble profession,” said Walker.
For the 2018-2019 school year, there are a number of TFA application deadlines approaching, through March 2018. If you are interested in applying, Cartagena, who asked several people to look over his application, advises other students not to be afraid to ask for help. “People think that they have to do things on their own, but that’s not true,” he said.
For assistance with the application, students can also take advantage of on-campus resources like the Career Development Office.

Part 2: Another One Bites the Bread

by

As I stare at the array of exquisite treats plated in front of me, the hunger that forms in the pit of my stomach becomes inevitable. Choosing won’t be easy, as each plate looks more delectable than the last. How can I choose just one? Alas, I know I have to, as buying every option is impossible for someone with only one meal swipe left for the day. I ponder for a moment longer, nose pressed against the cool glass that separates me from my dinner. I am like a lion hunting prey — prey enveloped in some sort of bread.
I walk to the front, fingertips twitching with anticipation. My mind is not made up, but I know my mouth will say something. It has to and I convince myself that I will be satisfied with whatever my mouth will order for me.
“One toasted ham and cheese on a croissant.” My voice doesn’t sound like my own. It is a foreign entity. The woman nods and takes my card.
And now, I wait.
I sit at the small square table, staring at the full plate in front of me. Steam gently drifts into the air, disappearing into the invisible atmosphere. I am reminded of Stephen King’s It. Yes, we all float here. My mouth waters and I know I can’t wait any longer.
I lift the top half of the croissant off of the cheesy ham, not caring that the heat burns the tips of my fingers. Even more steam floats into the atmosphere as the ham is released from the croissant bonds that once imprisoned it. I lick the butter and flakes off my fingers, not wanting to waste any of the product I paid for. My hand reaches for a packet and works to open the corner. Some would say it is despicable to put mayonnaise on something already so good, but I never said I was admirable when it came to condiments. I gently squeeze the mayo onto the ham before carefully putting the top back on. The mayonnaise oozes out of the sides and I regret my decision for a moment. No, my decisions are my own; they will not be the ones that would shame me.
I pick up the croissant and it crunches in my hand. I raise it towards my mouth, ready for the agonizing emptiness in my stomach to subside.
It is bliss.

1 2 3 4 6
Go to Top