With her successful marketing and advertising tactics, Reilly Price has made the entire Bucknell student body look up from their coursework and extracurricular activities to learn about and focus on the academic achievement gap that persists in contemporary American society. As Bucknell's Teach For America Campus Campaign Coordinator, Reilly is motivated to get the message out about this outstanding organization and its mission, while also working to recruit potential Teach For America corps members amongst the senior class. If you have not yet heard about Teach For America, definitely seek Reilly out -- you'll be amazed at what she tells you and her breadth of knowledge about the organization itself and the issue of educational inequity.
Hometown: East Hampton, Conn.
Class Year: 2013
Majors: Political Science and Environmental Studies
- Freeze Flavor: Peanut Butter cup with hot fudge and whipped cream
- Spot on Campus: The benches overlooking Rooke Chapel on top of Freas Hall
- Class taken at Bucknell: “Media and Politics” with Professor Ellis
- Professor at Bucknell: Woah--putting me on the spot! If any professors are looking at this I love you all, but I would have to say Professor Wooden has been really great and influential in my Bucknell Career.
- Aspect of Bucknell: The people--I have definitely made my best friends at this school.
- Movie: “I am Sam” and “Like Crazy” are tied
- Book: “Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan
5 Fun Facts:
If someone were to ask you to evaluate and analyze the current American educational system, what would you say?
While the educational system is great for some in America, it is also failing for others. Currently, only 50% of low-income students graduate from high school and only 8% will graduate from college. This is not because of something THEY are doing wrong; this is something WE are doing wrong as a society. Studies show that students of all income levels have the same capacity for learning so it is our duty as a nation to make sure we are helping students of all income levels and from all zip codes to reach their potential. The achievement gap between low-income and high-income schools affects individual students, but also has a much further reaching impact on our economy, crime rates, and our prison systems. In fact, some states base their prison capacity predictions for future years based on 3rd grade test scores because level of education has such a direct correlation with crime. I believe that not only is this an extremely important cause, but I also believe that we have the ability to change this reality in our lifetime.
Do you regard the academic inequity as a political, educational, or civil rights issue?
I suppose all of them. It is a civil rights issue because we are systematically disenfranchising students based on their parents’ income level, something completely out of a child’s control. It is an educational issue because a major change needs to happen in our educational system. But, I truly believe that while programs like TFA are making a difference, true systemic change will only come through the political system. Policy makers must make laws that support kids from all walks of life and do not give disproportional advantage to students from wealthy areas. We should be implementing policies that ensure a fabulous education for children from the highest income areas AND the lowest income areas (and everywhere in between). Education is the foundation of success, and it is the job of lawmakers in our nation to make sure we are not depriving any student the opportunity to be successful.
How did you first become interested in Teach For America?
I first was exposed to the issues regarding educational inequality when I saw the film “Waiting for Superman” (which I highly recommend!) in high school. Then, last year a good friend of mine, Maddie Quirk, held the position of Campus Campaign Coordinator (CCC) at Bucknell and suggested that I should think about taking on her role next year. As I looked more into the mission and approach of Teach for America I realized it was such a fantastic organization that was making real change in the schools where they were working. I decided to apply for the job and I have been working for them ever since trying to spread awareness about TFA and recruit the best leaders on campus to apply to address a cause that I believe is one of the most important this country faces.
What does your role as Teach For America’s Campus Campaign Coordinator at Bucknell for the 2012-2013 academic year entail?
As a CCC, my main job is a lot of personal outreach. I email and meet with students who I think would be great corps members or who have expressed interest in TFA. I also do a lot of marketing through social media and posting flyers on campus. I present in classrooms and at student organizations and I also hold information sessions about TFA. While the main focus of my job is getting seniors to apply, I also want to build general awareness on campus about TFA and educational inequity among underclassmen on campus so that we are cultivating leaders for our classrooms from their freshman year on. The last (and most fun!) part of my job is event planning to raise TFA awareness. This semester I held a happy hour at Towne Tavern where every student who applied to TFA invited a student or two who they believed would also be great corps members. Most of the students who they invited ended up applying; I am so grateful that I have had such helpful and invested TFA applicants because they have been pivotal in recruiting other leaders on campus and helping me network!
After having held your position as Campus Campaign Coordinator for several months now, why do you believe Bucknell students should apply to Teach For America?
As Bucknell students, we have received a great education and have been given so many opportunities as a result of our time here. I think that all of us can agree that every student deserves the amazing opportunities and chance of success that comes out of receiving an excellent education. As a TFA member, you will touch an average of 150 students’ lives and have the ability to make a HUGE impact in a child’s life. You could be THAT teacher that pushes your student to attend a great university like Bucknell, affording them the same opportunities that we have so luckily been given. I think that giving back is a really important part of life, and this is a great way to give back that not only shapes students, but also shapes you.
Teach For America corps are primarily comprised of recent college graduates who “show leadership potential and have other traits that are found” in the most successful of teachers. What can underclassmen do to get involved with Teach For America and/or the movement to eradicate the pervasive educational achievement gap in the United States?
There are so many ways to get involved as an underclassman. There is a summer program called Breakthrough where you can teach highly motivated middle school students in under-served areas. You can also apply to volunteer at institute, which is the training program over the summer for TFA corps members. Students for Educational Reform (SFER) is a student group on a lot of college campuses that advocates to end educational inequality; Bucknell does not have a chapter, so students who are really interested in issues around the achievement gap could start a chapter. Also, any volunteering that students can do in low-income classrooms makes a huge impact in starting to make changes in the achievement gap. In terms of becoming a corps member if the future, TFA looks for academic success and leadership capability, so underclassman should focus on maintaining academic excellence and getting involved on campus in meaningful ways if they desire to become a TFA member. If any underclassman is interested in how they can get more involved in ending the achievement gap or TFA more generally, please feel free to contact me- I would love the help!
You have done an incredible job this semester about promoting Teach For America’s mission and overall program to Bucknell’s student body. What do you have in store for next semester in terms of marketing and advertising for Teach For America?
The last TFA deadline is February 11, so next semester will be mostly about underclassmen engagement and changing the conversation around educational inequity at Bucknell. I am starting a social media campaign called #howdoYOUdefineSUCCESS where current and future corps members from Bucknell will use social media to explain what success means to them in order to change the conception that you are only successful if you are making six figures; making a difference is also a great measure of success. I am also planning an education day that focuses on the issues around educational inequity that will feature documentaries, some graphic displays and lectures from professors in the education department.
How do you hope to integrate what you have learned about Teach For America and the educational inequity that currently plagues our country into your life after Bucknell (personal, professional, etc.)?
Well, fingers crossed, I will be a TFA corps member next year. While I am not sure whether I will be a lifelong teacher, I know that whatever professional path I take, advocating on behalf of children will always be a mission in my life.