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Teach for America Coming to Appalachia

Three eastern Kentucky school districts have agreed to hire Teach for America instructors next fall. This will be the organization's first operation in Kentucky and in Appalachia.Teach for America places young teachers in impoverished and struggling schools, and about three fourths of the organization's operations are in cities, the nearest being Nashville and Indianapolis.Teach for America Appalachia will place 90 teachers in Martin, Floyd and Knox county schools over the next three years. Director Will Nash says he expects the partnership to extend beyond those three years, but not beyond Appalachia."Right now we're focused on eastern Kentucky and we're focused on our success there," he says. "I think if we are successful and other districts in Kentucky reach out to us, we'll certainly have a conversation with them. But from an organizational standpoint, we're just focused on eastern Kentucky."Nash says Teach for America was in talks to work in other eastern Kentucky schools, but many districts don’t have the money to hire new teachers."For example, we've had conversations with Wolfe County, but they might only hire one teacher a year, or some years it's zero. So it' shard to build a presence based off of that type of uncertainty or unlikely-ness of hiring," he says.Nash says the Appalachian positions have not yet been filled, though several applicants have expressed interest in working in Kentucky. He expects the organization won't have much trouble finding teachers for the region."About 45 or 50 individuals from the state of Kentucky join Teach for America each year and all 50 of them have been having to leave the state because we haven't operated in Kentucky. But opening in eastern Kentucky gives them the opportunity to stay right there and to do something for their home state," he says.The organization Teach Kentucky places recent college graduates in schools in the Louisville area.

Gabe Bullard is the director of news and editorial strategy.