Local schools are welcoming teachers willing to pack up their lives and move cross country - to make that difference.
You might not meet a teacher more thrilled about her job, than Caitlyn Filtz. We followed her into her classroom at Booker T. Washington High School for the first time this year. She has plenty of room to teach her most favorite subject ever.
“I would say I love math as much as I love like food,” Filtz said. “I mean it’s like a puzzle that you can find out.”
Caitlyn and her new friend Madelin Garcia, have something in common. They’ve collectively come thousands of miles to teach in some of south Florida’s toughest neighborhoods. Caitlyn is from Wisconsin, Madelin is from Los Angeles.
"I really miss my family, I miss my friends,” said Garcia. “But I feel you know, I’m making a new family here and I made a lot of new friends, and I met so many great people."
They're part of a program called Teach for America. Booker T. Washington principal William Aristide is grateful to host four such teachers on his Overtown campus this year.
"It’s like a breath of fresh air, they bring a lot of new experiences,” Aristide said. “They bring a lot of new ideas, a lot of energy. It's not the easiest school to work in in the sense that a lot of the kids may be lacking in certain areas, however these teachers generally come in here and they're working with the kids, making an impact, making a difference."
Before their first lessons, Caitlyn and Madelin each had to find an apartment, settle in and get to know their new city. Their pay range starts around $36,000, depending on experience. Both graduated college in the last two years.
Olinda Elementary School is where Madelin landed her assignment. She's teaching third grade in Liberty City.
"I come from a similar neighborhood, kind of being able to be that story of like success and implementing that in their mind that they're going to college,” Garcia said. "This is where I’m supposed to be."
Members of Teach for America commit to an inner city school for two years. Whether they stay beyond that is up to them.