MACON – Mercer University senior Andrew Bryant was recently accepted into Teach For America and will spend the next two years teaching high school science in Eastern North Carolina.
“Andrew is responding to Mercer's charge to change the world by addressing the need for capable teachers in an underserved area. He will commit his time and energy for the next two years to improving the lives of his students, and we are extremely proud of the way he is living out Mercer's mission,” said Dr. David A. Davis, director of fellowships and scholarships and associate professor of English.
Bryant, from Warner Robins, is a psychology major with a minor in philosophy. At Mercer, he has been an active participant in the mock trial team, Student Government Association and Mercer Players. He also has worked as a tutor in the University's Educational Opportunity Center and as a telecounselor in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions making phone calls to prospective students and their families.
Bryant previously served as a student assistant in Houston County's summer enhancement program, a mentor in Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and a volunteer in several afterschool programs.
“Teach For America will be an exceptional opportunity for me to make impactful change on students that one day will serve as the leaders and innovators of our world. I am so privileged to have attended Mercer University, and this community has equipped me with the tools and skills to become a great teacher and leader in education,” said Bryant.
“There may not be a higher honor than to give back to the next generation. When you walk successfully through a door of opportunity, you need to do your best to ensure that those behind you succeed as well. Mercer's first tenet in its mission statement reads 'to teach,' and I will be doing just that next year when I am helping Teach For America with the movement for educational equity and excellence.”
The 13 counties that make up Teach For America's Eastern North Carolina region were once thriving, but the decline of textile production and other manufacturing led to widespread unemployment and impoverishment.
Today, 25 percent of children in the state – over 500,000 in number – live in poverty, and the rural communities of Eastern North Carolina are home to the highest concentrations of impoverished families. As a result, there are huge disparities in educational opportunities for the kids in the region: 47 percent of African-American students, 52 percent of Hispanic students and 48 percent of economically disadvantaged students in grades three through eight are performing below their grade levels.
Teach For America has served for 26 years in Eastern North Carolina, and currently has around 270 corps members reaching more than 15,000 students in high-need schools across the region's rural communities, with an additional 25 alumni serving in school and district leadership roles in the area.
Following his two-year commitment, Bryant is considering attending law school or graduate school in order to continue to impact the field of education.
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 effort to end educational inequity. Some 6,900 corps members are teaching today in 53 urban and rural regions across the country. They join a Teach For America community that is 53,000 strong, working across every sector to ensure that all children have access to an excellent education. Teach For America is a proud member of the AmeriCorps national service network. For more information, visit www.teachforamerica.org.