Many recent graduates will join Dana Von Schaumberg this fall as the newest members of the Teach for America corps. Few, however, will enter with her wealth of experience.
Von Schaumberg, a student from Parker, will graduate from Scripps College, a women’s liberal arts institution in Claremont, Calif., in May. Throughout her college career, Von Schaumberg has worked with students locally and abroad.
For four summers, Von Schaumberg worked with Kent Denver’s Breakthrough Denver program, which provides additional educational opportunities for under-resourced students in middle school and urges older students to pursue careers in urban education. She says the experience exposed her to the realities and effects of the achievement gap.
“I saw firsthand ways disparities in education negatively impact students, families and communities,” Von Schaumberg said to Scripps College’s Lauren Prince. “The students I’ve worked with are beyond incredible; they continually inspire me, make me laugh and push me to advocate for equitable access to educational opportunities for all students.”
Von Schaumberg also spent a semester in Cape Town, South Africa, teaching math-enrichment classes to eighth-graders. In 2011, South Africa administered the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study assessment to ninth-grade students. The assessment is designed for eighth-graders. South Africa’s results placed the nation second to last when compared with scores from 42 other countries.
During her time in South Africa, Von Schaumberg became active in the community. She took classes in the local language, poverty and development and social research methods. For her capstone project, she established a math resource center that included peer tutoring, textbooks and flash cards. She marveled at how much support she received for her efforts.
Von Schaumberg’s classroom in Cape Town
“It was amazing to be a part of such a community,” Von Schaumberg told Prince. “I was shocked at how much support I received and how much I could accomplish in five months.”
The experience gave her insight into the discrepancy between third-world and first-world educations. She plans to bring that insight into her career as a teacher in the United States. Von Schaumberg will be teaching in Denver this fall.