Page 11 - The ALEC Gazette-2018
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 At the University of Tennessee, students gain valuable knowledge that were saying matched anything he had ever seen before. In that moment he
help them in their future careers. However, sometimes the most valuable knowledge gained is when ALEC students step outside of the classroom and into internships across the United States.
Dalton Teel, a junior majoring in agricultural communications, spent his most valuable summer in Phoenix, Arizona, interning as the Teach for America communications intern. Teel was responsible for the TFA Institute’s social media, newsletter, and communication outlets, ensuring that everyone had the information they needed.
TFA is a diverse network of leaders who confront educational inequity through teaching and work with unwavering commitment from every sector of society to create a nation free from this injustice.
“I am really passionate about working with marginalized communities and underrepresented groups, and I knew that TFA’s mission aligned with a lot of my values,” Teel said.
TFA’s mission is committed to expanding opportunities for children by affecting profound systemic change. “Because I also believed their mission, I knew TFA would be the correct pursuit for me,” Teel said.
Teel found out about this internship from the TFA recruiter at the time, Wes George. When they first met, George shared his experiences with TFA and their institution. But the thing that sold Teel was how George maintained their conversation after their first initial meeting. George gave him a book and told him to read it. They then discussed it, and George continued conversation by providing Teel with opportunities within TFA that he thought he would thrive in.
“He challenged me to be more intentional with the way I connect with people,” Teel said. George had made such a strong connection with him that it drew Teel closer to this shared value Institution.
The summer of 2017 impacted Teel in more ways than one. “One of the most challenging things was that TFA has a lot of really tough conversations about racial injustices and inequity when it comes to education,” Teel said. “Being involved with those conversations for the first time really taught me that you can learn just as much from listening as you can from speaking.”
He recalled one day being in a room where the majority were women of color. They were discussing their education experiences and nothing they
learned not to question it but find value in their story immediately. He now has made it a point to look at ways he can work with others to combat the issues students face and provide solutions to address those issues.
Teel’s close friend, Catherine Moore, junior in agriculture communications, said, “I can see how this summer interning for Teach for America really impacted him. Not only is he a better communicator, but he is also more intentional in his actions.”
At the opening session at the beginning of the summer, Teel, along with all the other coordinators, heard from speakers and representatives from the Phoenix community. Several students shared their stories, but one showed Teel what he was doing had value and immediate impact to the students TFA was teaching. It was a young girl whose family had moved to the United States from the Middle East. She and her family were refugees. She talked
a lot about her experiences being a Muslim female in her school and how important it was to feel accepted and supported by her teachers.
“Hearing this story and seeing the full circle moment of a student that could have been sent down another path completely, but because she had teachers that really supported her, she was able to go down a path of success at a very young age,” Teel said.
Coming back to the University of Tennessee, Teel is on a path of valuing an individual’s story. “There is a difference between acknowledging someone and truly appreciating and accepting someone, and TFA taught me how to truly appreciate the differences that we have but also how to work with those differences and to make an impact in education in the U.S.,” Teel said.
Brianne Clure, senior in kinesiology, has just applied for TFA and is currently going through the interview process of being selected as a teacher for the institution. “I never knew that I would somehow be called to teaching, but it happened,” Clure said. “ After hearing about the impact Dalton was able to make in just one summer, I knew that I wanted to continue to pursue TFA to change the education inequalities in America.”
Teel is thankful for the summer he spent with TFA and is excited to be continuing his future with them by moving to Washington, D.C., after he graduates in May 2019. He will be teaching either elementary age or English second language students. During his second year with TFA he hopes to pursue his master’s degree in education. p
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 Dalton Teel had time to explore the Grand Canyon during his Teach for America internship.

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