Leading the classroom

A dedication to serving others and ending educational inequality motivated senior Amanda Brazell to join Teach For America as an instructor.

Following graduation, Brazell—an economics major—will move across the country to teach in a classroom for two years in her hometown of Las Vegas, Nev.

“I am excited to be close to family and friends who can support me and encourage me as I navigate being a teacher,” she said.

Teach For America, a nonprofit organization, is a national corps of individuals who commit to teaching in low-income schools for two years. The 26-year old program has placed 53,000 teachers in 53 communities.

Brazell says she hopes to follow in the footsteps of the many excellent teachers who supported her as a student.

“I think everyone deserves these kinds of teachers. I joined Teach for America with the hope that I could serve as that role model for students who might not get the chance to have these experiences,” she said. “I want to help encourage students and show them that hard work, dedication and passion can take you anywhere you want to be as long as you are persistent, committed and focused.”

The position dovetails skills and experiences she gained at Wheaton. As a student, she tutored children at the local Head Start in Norton, Mass., and volunteered at Elisabeth W. Amen Nursing School this past spring.

Also, Brazell completed an internship at the Filene Center for Academic Advising and Career Services.

Career Services Assistant Director Barbara Carnevale describes Brazell as a quick learner who took on responsibilities eagerly, in addition to being a self-starter requiring little supervision—traits perfect for a teacher.

“Amanda could be counted on to be punctual and reliable, and she always brought a smile, positive attitude and her caring nature to our office. She was extremely helpful in providing a student’s point-of-view to new or different initiatives,” Carnevale said.

Brazell credits professors Lisa Lebduska (for reading her essays and providing encouraging words); Vicki Bartolini (for coaching her on what to expect in the Teach For America role); and Marge Werner (for allowing her to observe and teach at Amen).

“I would like to thank all the Wheaton faculty who have inspired me and challenged me to become the person I am today,” she said.

Following her Teach For America term, Brazell said she would like to go back to school in either business or in law, and in some capacity continue to advocate for children in whatever path she follows.