Ashlyn Razzo ’11 loves working with children. A recent Hamilton graduate, Razzo knew that she wanted to spend her future working with underprivileged youth, giving back to the kind of community in which she grew up. Razzo will be serving as a 2011 corps member in Miami for Teach For America (TFA), the non-profit organization dedicated to ending educational inequality in the United States.
Razzo realized her love for working with children after last summer, when she worked at summer camp Iroquois Springs as a cabin specialist for “12 of the best 7-year-old girls you’ve ever met.” That expereicne inspired her to look for teaching positions when she came back to Hamilton in the fall.
Razzo remembered that one of the teachers she most admired from her high school was a part of TFA, and decided to apply on her own. Her own experience, she says, inspired her to want to give back. “I went to high school in a low-income community, was able to persevere, and came out of it a graduate of a prestigious liberal arts school,” she said. “And, I mean, applying to Hamilton would have been a whole lot harder without that TFA teacher I had, Mr. Corburn, and all the guidance he provided. So applying for TFA is what I did. And here I am now.”
Razzo also notes that a number of memorable experiences during her time on campus that inspired her to work with underprivileged youth. She worked with Study Buddies, the on-campus mentoring program for Utica elementary school students, during her junior year, and was also a member of Hamilton Association for Volunteering, Outreach and Charity. Through that organization Razzo spent time volunteering with children at Johnson Park Center in Utica; she also served as a trip leader for the pre-orientation program, Urban Service Experience (now Outreach Adventure). She says USE specifically sparked for her an interest in TFA’s cause, which is to bring an end to educational inequality.
Although Teach for America commonly places teachers into positions teaching subjects with which they are largely unfamiliar, Razzo, a double major in theatre and biology, was lucky enough to be placed into a 9th grade biology class, a subject she is very comfortable teaching. New teachers attend a TFA institute for an intensive, six-week training period where they learn to teach, and during the school year they are overseen by a regional advisor who is available to answer questions, but for the most part, teachers are given complete discretion in the classroom to construct lesson plans around an established curriculum.
After she finishes her year with TFA, Razzo tentatively plans to get a master’s in early childhood education so that she can teach elementary school in Boston, although she acknowledges the possibility that she may love teaching biology so much that it will inspire her to go for a master’s in secondary education.
Razzo says that she owes her new position with TFA entirely to the help and expertise of Associate Director of the Career Center Leslie Bell. “Leslie read my applicant essays, served as a resource for bouncing off ideas, and continued to follow up on me in the weeks to pass,” she said. “I met with Leslie a total of four times in two months, and am convinced I could not have made it through the application process without her.”
Ashlyn Razzo is a graduate of Manhattan Center for Science & Math in New York.