Two Issaquah educators join Teach For America Corps

December 1, 2009

By Hunter Deiglmeier

Two teachers from Issaquah are teaching through the Teach For America Corps for the 2009-2010 school year.Marissa Haberlach and Jessica Lawler graduated from Issaquah High School in 2005 and then went on to receive their undergraduate degrees at prestigious universities. Haberlach graduated from the University of Southern California; Lawler graduated from Brigham Young University.

Haberlach became interested in Teach For America when she learned about it from college recruiters on the USC campus. However, her interest in education began when she discovered a passion for science, which ultimately helped her decide to become a teacher.

“I wanted to share my interest and passion for science and the human body, and teaching was a great way to do that,” she said.

Haberlach is now living in Oakland, Calif., where she is teaching seventh-grade science at Claremont Middle School. She was eager to start her work with Teach For America, which aims to provide improved education for students of low income.

“I think what inspired me to join Teach For America was its mission to bridge the educational gap and to provide equal access to education,” she said.

Lawler learned about Teach For America through an e-mail from her college. After receiving it, she researched the organization and said she was very intrigued by its mission and its opportunities.

“I received an excellent public school education,” she said. “It’s not fair that where you live determines the quality of education that you receive.

Lawler was in high school when she realized she wanted to become a teacher.

“My junior year English teacher really inspired me,” she said. “I never had a teacher who pushed me so hard.”

Lawler has been living in Chicago since June, and she will continue to live there for the next year as she teaches prekindergarten.

“I just teach at one school,” she said. “The pre-K programs here are not at an elementary school. They are at a daycare that receives funding. But it has to have a teacher, and I am that teacher.”

Like Haberlach, Lawler has a strong desire to decrease the education gap between low-income students.

“Starting with pre-K, we can stop the achievement gap before it even starts,” Lawler said.

This school year, Haberlach and Lawler join more than 7,300 Teach For America corps members in educating low-income students. It was a record-setting year for applications to the National Teaching Corps, Teach For America. Of the 35,000 college graduates who applied, only 15 percent were accepted.

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