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UW-Eau Claire Alumnus to Return to Campus to Recruit for Teach For America

RELEASED: Jan. 20, 2006

Zach VerridenEAU CLAIRE — Zachary Verriden, the first University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire alumnus to work for Teach For America, will return to campus Feb. 1-3 to try to interest more UW-Eau Claire students in applying to work with Teach for America.

Verriden will be in the West Lobby of Davies Center from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1, to distribute literature and answer questions. Later that same day, at 7 p.m., he will give a presentation in the Wisconsin Room of Davies Center. He also hopes to speak in a number of classes over the next two days.

TFA is a national corps of outstanding recent college graduates from all academic majors who commit two years to teach in urban and rural public schools and often become lifelong leaders in the effort to expand educational opportunity for all children.

Verriden, who graduated in December 2004 with a bachelor's degree in political science, plans to attend law school some day. But last summer he trained with TFA, and since last fall he has been teaching 10th-12th grade social studies in Camden, New Jersey.

"My experiences thus far have been amazing," said Verriden. " Camden is reputed to be the most dangerous city in America, yet I have found these kids are not hardened criminals, nor are they incapable of learning, as so many stereotypes suggest. …These kids are every bit as smart as the kids out in the suburbs, but they don’t have a safe environment, food, health care, parents, or someone to believe in them."

Although Verriden said that teaching in Camden is definitely the most difficult thing he has ever attempted, he has no regrets. He said he has been forced to grow up and assume a greater authoritative role.

"I am much more passionate about my beliefs in public education and inequality of opportunity in America than I was when I was simply reading about these problems in a college classroom," said Verriden. "Despite what you may be taught in the classroom, we are far from the notion of equality set forth in Brown v. Board of Education and segregation is still alive and well in America. I think any individual who has an interest in equality and social justice in our society should take a closer look at the opportunity that Teach for America presents."

For more information about Teach for America, visit their Web site. The next deadline for applications is Feb. 17.

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NW

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