Ebony Hinton, a senior in the University of Alabama at Birmingham College of Arts and Sciences, was selected by Teach for America to teach in a public Miami school for the next two years. The program receives around 50,000 applications each year and admits less than 15 percent of applicants.
“UAB is thrilled to have our 11th Teach for America corps member in just the past four years,” said UAB President Carol Garrison. “We are proud of Ebony, her accomplishments on campus and her commitment to serving the community, and we wish her well as she goes on to teach and inspire young minds in Miami.”
Hinton, who will graduate UAB in May with a degree in psychology, is passionate about educational equality because of her personal history. Her parents moved often while she was a child; she says lived in both prosperous and economically challenged neighborhoods and was educated in inner-city and suburban schools. Her experience with distinct gaps in the two environments is the reason she applied to Teach for America.
“I want to motivate my students to become invested in their academic and educational attainment and to want more for their futures,” says Hinton. “I would love to help the students improve their reading skills because it is a deficit I have seen firsthand, and it is something so necessary to succeed in life.”
Teach for America, according to its website, promotes the idea that every child deserves access to a great education. The program recruits and trains leaders who commit two years to teaching in low-income communities. Hinton learned about its work from a fellow student in the University Honors Program. All but one of the previous Teach for America honorees were students of the prestigious UAB program, and its director knows a top candidate when he sees one.
“Ebony is driven, selfless and a great inspiration to others so she is an excellent choice to serve as a tutor and role model for secondary school-age students,” said Michael Sloane, Ph.D., University Honors Program director. “She understands the importance of education and her passion to share this is evidenced by her role in the Reach Initiative here in the Spencer Honors House; she volunteers her Saturdays to tutor inner-city high-school students preparing for the ACT.”
Hinton has been assigned to teach English to high-school students. She expects to learn just as much from her students as she expects them to learn from her. She has been studying the psychology of school-connectedness under Sylvie Mrug, Ph.D., in the UAB Youth Development Lab in the Department of Psychology. Hinton wants to walk away from her Teach for America commitment with the experience and knowledge to institute real change in the lives of children everywhere.
“I have researched teacher-student fit and the characteristics in students and teachers that help to build the glue that strengthens the bond between the two and improves students academically and socially,” says Hinton. “Now I will see firsthand which factors play into a child’s feeling of belonging in their school and the effects that belongingness has on the child’s academic outcomes. Teach for America has given me an opportunity to use the knowledge I’ve gathered through research to help my future students.”