Erikson’s Teach For America partnership begins

Through the partnership, TFA Corps Members will acquire a deep understanding of child development as they prepare to teach in high-need classrooms.

Alec Josiah of Orlando, left, and Anita Guaman of New York City place their names on a map showing their hometowns during Erikson’s Teach For America orientation.

This summer, Erikson Institute welcomed its first class of Teach for America (TFA) Early Childhood Corps members, kicking off our new partnership with TFA’s Chicago and Northwest Indiana region.

As part of the two-year alternative teacher licensure program, TFA Corps Members began their Erikson studies over the summer before taking the knowledge of early childhood curricular approaches they’ve acquired into local classrooms. Throughout the rest of the program, they will work as preschool and kindergarten classroom teachers while simultaneously completing their Master of Science in Early Childhood Education degree leading to Illinois licensure with early childhood and Bilingual/English as a second language (ESL) endorsements.

The program is designed to prepare teachers who are best able to support and educate young children in the Chicago area. Corps Members will complete all of the hallmarks of Erikson’s teacher licensure program: a combination of courses in early childhood education and child development, plus teacher preparation courses and methods seminars that meet the requirements for teacher licensure in Illinois.

Erikson has earned a strong reputation for preparing early childhood educators with a deep understanding of young children from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds and their development in the context of their culture, family, and community. As such, the partnership with TFA will make a positive impact in the classrooms where Corps Members are hired to work — in the Chicago area’s highest-need schools and community-based organizations.

Thirty-one Corps Members, who come from Illinois and 15 other states, were given a primer on the Erikson experience from our faculty and staff during a recent orientation. They learned how the program will offer the valuable experience of studying in a small, personalized environment that also fosters strong bonds between students.

Michel Frendian, dean of enrollment management, highlighted the camaraderie our students form in their shared dedication to young children, their families, and their well-being.

“Once you get through the Erikson experience, you really do find your professional soulmates,” Frendian says.

While students come from a diverse array of backgrounds, their shared passion for teaching young children has brought them together as Erikson students and TFA Corps Members. Professor Gillian McNamee, PhD, welcomed them “to one of the greatest jobs you can get paid for” while sharing stories about past Erikson students’ experiences working with young children in Chicago.

“I think you’re among the luckiest young people entering a line of work helping shape the future,” McNamee says. “I think you’re lucky because you’re going to work with children. You’re going to create in your classrooms a microcosm of what we hope for the future.

“We hope you will become lifelong educators. That’s our goal for you.”

Read Our Past Coverage

Partnership with Teach for America will prepare new teachers with deep knowledge about child development

Through a new alternative teaching licensure program, Erikson will support TFA Corps members who will work in high-need, Chicago-area schools. Read more