A 2008 Neosho High School graduate is getting ready to teach in Hawaii.

A 2008 Neosho High School graduate is getting ready to teach in Hawaii.

Afton Tipton will leave on Sunday and be a part of Teach for America, for two years.

According to the mission statement of the organization, “it is to eliminate educational inequality by enlisting high-achieving, recent college graduates and professionals to teach.”

The first time that she heard about the organization was from someone from Neosho who actually got into it.
“It was Paige Hendrix, she was a Teach for America corp member and I was friends with her younger brother,” Tipton said. “So I heard about it then, and I have always been interested. My mother is a teacher, my grandfather use to be superintendent in town (Neosho). I have always been interested in education, and I thought that I could really make a difference in this organization. I took a chance and I applied.”
Tipton doesn’t know what subject she will be teaching.

“I don’t know yet, we will find out hopefully at the end of May, but I will be hired by an actual school,” she said.

The organization assigned her to Hawaii, and she will teach on the big island. This is actually the first time Tipton has been to the island.

“It is exciting things to find out, it is far away geographically obviously, I think that there are seven different eco systems on the big island,” she said. “It is really diverse, on one half it will rain, a lot, a lot, one the other half, not so much. There is an active volcano on the big island.”

After she lands in Hawaii, she will be there for four days before flying Phoenix, Ariz., for training until the end of June. She’ll then will fly back to Hawaii for her two-year stint.

She credited her teachers for preparing her for the work force.

“I think after taking debate with Mr. (David) Watkins, I am ready any job ever,” she said. “Just because, it taught you how to research, new jobs and be confident in the knowledge that you obtained there. And also with Mrs. (Jackie) Kenny, I was able to go to Germany one summer and so I got a lot of experience trying out new places and new things at a young age, because of what Neosho offered.”

After high school, she went to the University of Arkansas and received her bachelor’s in communications.
Asked what her long-term goals are, Tipton said, “I don’t know, because I am really, really excited about this opportunity. At the end of it, I will be certified teacher in the state of Hawaii. So I will have the opportunity to teach, I could potentially stay on, if I really like the school that I am at there or I could pursue what a lot of Teach for America alumnus to is they go into education reform activism. I just like to make a difference in the field of education in some way, because all of the most important people in my life have been teachers and if they weren’t even employed in the field of teaching, they taught me something. So I would really love to work in the field.”

Tipton hopes to pass along something from her education to the children she will soon be teaching.

“I can remember every teacher that made a difference in my life, they are my inspiration and I really hope to make a difference in a kids life the same way they made a difference in mine,” she said. “I am just in love with learning… I am excited about it.”

For more information about Teach for America, visit their website at www.teachforamerica.org.