Tuesday, August 23, 2011

This is what TFA Puget Sound Looks Like. Vol 1

Olympia local, University of Puget Sound grad, and Western Washington University Teacher steps up to Teach For Seattle.
Emily Ehrlich
1st year TFA Corps Member Seattle/Puget sound

Connection to Washington State: I grew up in Olympia, went to college at University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, lived in Seattle and worked at the Elliott Bay Book Company, worked at schools all over the Puget Sound region and at a library on the Olympic Peninsula, then got a Master’s in English from Western Washington University in Bellingham.  So my connection to Washington is very deep!  I love Washington, and can’t imagine ever leaving.

Why do you teach for Seattle?  I teach for Seattle because I want to give back to my community.  I am deeply committed to ensuring that everyone has the wonderful educational opportunities that our state has given me, and teaching is the best way I can do that.

How did you get involved in education? Literacy is my life.  Anyone who knows me can tell you that the stacks of books and journals piled around my apartment are probably going to fall down and crush me someday.  I started teaching with a company called the Institute of Reading Development, which offers intensive summer reading programs to students aged four through adult, because it just kills me that there are students out there who don’t like reading because it is hard for them.  I wanted to give them the tools to be better readers, so that they could experience the joy of learning through reading.  My students benefited so much from intensive reading instruction, and I loved going to work every day.  I decided to pursue a Master of Arts degree in English Studies because I wanted to deepen my own understanding of the subject I now knew I wanted to teach for life.  As a fully funded graduate student at Western Washington University, I taught five quarters of English 101, Writing and Critical Inquiry, and one quarter of English 347, Young Adult Literature.  Teaching at the college levels has allowed me to really understand what level of reading, writing, and critical thinking skills are necessary for students to be on the path to success in college.  I want to bring that knowledge and experience to students in public schools.

What are your hopes for schools in the Puget Sound?  My hope for schools in the Puget Sound is very realistic.  I know it is realistic because I have experienced it myself, and a lot of students experience it every day—that all students emerging from schools in the Puget Sound region can be proud of their education, and can make the choice to pursue further education.