For our corps members, living in Alabama means following in the footsteps of the activists who came before them and taking part in fighting for equity and civil rights for all people today. Living in Alabama also means being part of a close-knit community. Southern hospitality is a way of life in our state—neighbors and parents may offer to cook you a delicious dinner or show you around the town. Affordable housing offers corps members the opportunity to live in the same communities as their students and build relationships with families and other community partners. As a corps member you will quickly grow and expand your network by working side-by-side with your local community.
While about one third of our corps members live in rural areas, we also have many current corps members and alumni living and working in cities such as Birmingham, Huntsville, and Montgomery. After a long week in the classroom, corps members can head north to Huntsville and visit NASA’s Space and Rocket Center or south for a relaxing weekend on the Gulf Coast, hang out in Birmingham and peruse Pepper Place Farmers Market, hike at one of Alabama’s many state parks, or head to Tuscaloosa or Auburn and catch an SEC football game. Teach For America – Alabama truly offers the best of all worlds: small town intimacy with easy access to a big city and the great outdoors.
Our corps members currently teach in nine school districts throughout the state, including urban and rural areas:
These rural and urban regions are diverse in many regards and many were critical to the success of the Civil Rights movement where the effects of which still linger. On average, more than 91% of students in our partner school districts are considered low income, and 88% of the student populations are African American.
To receive certification without obtaining a master’s degree, Teach For America—Alabama has teamed up with Athens State University to offer online courses towards alternative certification.
We have formal Master’s Degree partnerships with the following universities:
Teachers have also elected to take Masters courses at The University of Alabama at Birmingham and Alabama A&M University
Costs range depending on which certification degree is taken
Costs depend on which certification path a teacher chooses and the university partner. Some schools may require only the application fee, and some may require a percentage of their first semester’s tuition up front.
Costs can range depending on whether teachers want to pursue a post-baccalaureate alternative teaching certification (lower end of cost spectrum) or a Master’s Degree.
Certification can be obtained in two to three years depending on route taken:
Download the Teach For America - Alabama Certification Guide to find more details about specific tests, dates and pathways to becoming certified.
A master's degree is required for elementary, but not for secondary.
Woodlawn is a neighborhood in east Birmingham, where our corps members teach and live.
The neighborhood is home to many community organizations working together to improve education for students and quality of life for all citizens, including urban food projects, music and art programs, and locally-owned businesses. Corps members who serve in this area partner with Woodlawn Foundation Community Partners allowing them to purposefully engage with their school and the community at large. The neighborhood is also a short distance from many coffee shops, Pepper Place Farmer’s Market, local parks, and the downtown area.
Click the tabs on the left to learn more about some of the work and other interesting things that are happening in and around the Woodlawn community and Birmingham.
The Woodlawn Foundation is the lead organization or “community quarterback” of Woodlawn United – a comprehensive collaboration of partners committed to breaking the cycle of poverty in the Woodlawn community in Birmingham, Alabama. The Foundation follows a holistic approach to community revitalization based on the Purpose Built Communities model. Several TFA-AL teachers work within the Woodlawn Feeder Pattern
The Birmingham Education Foundation is dedicated to increasing the number of students in the Birmingham City Schools that are on the path to college, career, and life readiness. They do this by partnering with Birmingham City Schools and bringing many initiatives straight to children. The Birmingham Education Foundation is led by many Teach For America alumni including J.W. Carpenter (Mississippi Delta ’01) and Andrew Mitchell (Alabama ’11).
The Desert Island Supply Co. is a nonprofit creative writing program for students in Birmingham. They offer free after-school workshops plus in-school programs in area schools. Their space in Woodlawn also serves as a hub for creative community projects and events.
Audiostate is a recording studio and entertainment company in the heart of Woodlawn. They partner with Woodlawn High School and bring in students to teach them about the professional and technical aspects of recording and producing music.
The Woodlawn Street Market is an urban street market in the heart of Historic Woodlawn with local vendors selling food, art, home goods, and more! Like their Facebook page to get updates about when they are happening!
Down the road from Woodlawn, the Pepper Place Farmer’s Market happens every Saturday from mid-April to mid-December. While it began as a place that was established to help small farming families, Pepper Place now has over 100 vendors set up with local produce, food, clothes, and other goods every Saturday.
MAKE is an open, membership-based space that facilitates creativity and the development of creative enterprises though facilities, resources, and education. (Think 'Gym' and substitute a potter's wheel or table saw for a treadmill.) In addition to an open work space, they also offer classes for adults including ceramics, welding, woodshop, and more!
Higher Academics Summer School (HASS), is a four-week academic summer program that serves high achieving students from the rural, Black Belt of Alabama. HASS was started in 2011 by two Teach For America teachers who recognized the importance of providing more opportunities for students to continue learning during the summer months. Higher Academics Summer School serves students who lack many extracurricular opportunities in their rural communities, but wish to build the skills to become competitive college applicants.
HASS provides students with an intensive four-week learning experience that they would not otherwise have access to in the Black Belt. The program includes rigorous academic, cultural, and leadership enrichment every summer throughout the duration of their high school careers. HASS students attend classes that focus on public speaking, literature and literary analysis, and college-level lab research. Students also participate in a mock trial competition, financial literacy courses, and tour colleges and universities.
This year, three of the first HASS graduates are now enrolled at the University of Alabama at Birmingham on full academic scholarships, due to their work with HASS.
During the 2013-14 school year, teachers from J.O. Johnson High School in Huntsville City Schools, a Title I school in North Alabama, decided to take their students on college tours to expose them to some of their options after high school. After successful trips to Nashville and Atlanta for over 40 students, 11 of the top performing freshmen were selected to visit colleges in the Northeast. In the planning of this journey, CAP & GOWN was born. The teachers sought to Create Academic Pathways and Guide Others Wherever Needed, and they want their students to do the same for their peers.
Chris Scribner (Alabama '13), a teacher at Jemison High School and Program Coordinator for CAP & GOWN explains the impact the project has had thus far.
“My first year [teaching, before CAP & GOWN] we had about nine students out of 100 graduates matriculate to a two or four-year college straight after graduation. At the end of last year, we had 54 students gain acceptance to college, so that's a 600 percent increase.”
Since its founding, over 300 students have visited more than 60 colleges in eight states and three countries. These experiences have helped transform the lives of the students who participate in the program.