Westminster Honors Program Student Gives Back Through Teaching Program

May 10, 2016

May 11, 2016 Abigail McKinney to teach in rural North Carolina SALT LAKE CITY - Westminster graduating senior Abigail McKinney has been accepted into Teach for America's 2016 teaching corps. Teach For America is a national nonprofit working to expand educational opportunities for low-income students. Corps members commit to teach for two years in high-need urban or rural public schools and become lifelong leaders in the pursuit of educational equity. McKinney has been selected to teach in a rural area of North Carolina. "I will spend nine weeks training with a mentor teacher over the summer-basically getting hands-on experience in the classroom," McKinney said. "In August, I will move to one of the communities in my region and begin teaching my own class. The area of North Carolina I'm assigned to is very rural, so I will be living right in the communities, getting to know the people and families I'll be teaching." McKinney, who is an Honors program student, originally came to Westminster hoping to become a business major and work as a foreign service officer, but her involvement in Westminster's Little Griffins program changed her path. "I realized I wasn't happy or engaged with those subjects and started volunteering with the Little Griffins program, which tutors high-need students at Bennion Elementary School-that is when I feel in love with teaching," she said. "Seeing kids who desperately needed the help and stability of our tutoring grow and become more confident in their work won me over. After this program, I intend to keep teaching elementary school, most likely in those same high-need regions. I want to make a difference in the lives of children who experience educational inequity." McKinney is just one of many students who hope to make a difference in the lives of others after they graduate. "Business Insider" recently ranked Westminster as one of the 25 best colleges for students who want to change the world. "Westminster absolutely guided me to give back, and my education definitely made me more aware of the inequities in our society and education," McKinney said. "I was made aware that there are these big issues that need help, and every step of the way I was encouraged to go out into the community and give whatever I could." McKinney discovered Teach for America while doing research on urban teacher residency programs. "I applied to this particular program because it got to the heart of the educational gap problem more than the other programs," she said. "Since it is not centered around a university, it can reach more students in need." A growing body of research demonstrates the effectiveness of Teach For America corps members. Recent studies by Mathematica Policy Research, the University of North Carolina, Louisiana, and Tennessee found that corps members have a positive impact on student achievement. "Our corps members and alumni have made a meaningful impact with their students and communities over time," said Elisa Villanueva Beard, co-CEO of Teach For America. "I can't wait to see the leadership, passion, dedication and innovation this year's corps will bring to their classrooms nationwide." About Teach For America: Teach For America works in partnership with communities to expand educational opportunity for children facing the challenges of poverty. Founded in 1990, Teach For America recruits and develops a diverse corps of outstanding college graduates and professionals to make an initial two-year commitment to teach in high-need schools and become lifelong leaders in the movement to end educational inequity. Our corps in the 2013-14 school year included 11,000 teachers in 48 urban and rural regions across the country. Today, our 37,000 alumni are working across sectors to ensure that all children have access to an excellent education. For more information, visit www.teachforamerica.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Arikka Von

About Westminster

Westminster is a private, independent, and comprehensive college in Salt Lake City, Utah. Students experience the liberal arts blended with professional programs in an atmosphere dedicated to civic engagement. With the goal of enabling its graduates to live vibrant, just, and successful lives, Westminster provides transformational learning experiences for both undergraduate and graduate students in a truly student-centered environment. Faculty focus on teaching, learning, and developing distinctive, innovative programs, while students thrive on Westminster’s urban Sugar House campus within minutes of the Rocky Mountains.

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