Tuesday, January 8, 2013

From Camp to Corps: An Interview with Teach for America's Caroline Rubin

We’re excited to once again bring you a great interview from one of Teach for America’s movers and shakers. Caroline Rubin, Manager of Matriculation Strategy at TFA, and eleven year member of Girl Scout Troop 1051 spoke with us about her time in Girl Scouting and as a 2008 Teach for America corps member.


When and why did you decide to join TFA?
My senior year of college I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with myself, but I knew I wanted to do something that would serve others, which is the same reason I initially joined the Girl Scouts all those years ago! I heard about TFA, and I realized how lucky I had been to receive the great education I did. I felt that as long as I had that privilege and others didn't, I had to work to make it right.

Both Girl Scouts and TFA are about leadership and change. How did your Girl Scout experience translate into your corps and/or staff experience at TFA?
I was a counselor at Girl Scout day camp for several summers, and then became a Leader-in-Training for a local Brownie troop. I eventually earned my Gold Award, even while taking a lot of AP classes and participating in other extracurriculars. So, one thing I learned was how to plan efficiently – how to work smarter, not harder – a skill that has served me well ever since. Leading my Brownie troop also drilled “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” mantra into me. If I didn’t have a solid plan for our meetings and outings, there would be chaos, likely in the form of glitter and pipe cleaners flying everywhere. By the time I got to my classroom, I basically had lesson planning down as a result!

What unexpected skills and/or characteristics did you learn as a Girl Scout that you still use today?
Girl Scouting definitely instilled craftiness and resourcefulness that has been useful in and out of the classroom – can’t afford dividers for your students’ lab binders? You can make your own for a fraction of the cost by folding construction paper! I am also still pretty good at cat’s cradle!

In your opinion, why do you think a Girl Scout would make a good TFA candidate?
Girl Scouting is all about developing you into a leader, and that’s what it takes to be a successful corps member. Setting big goals, investing in others, planning purposefully, executing effectively, working relentlessly, improving your effectiveness – these are the tenets of TFA’s “Teaching as Leadership” model, but they are also all skills you learn in Girl Scouts. Whether you are leading a fundraising campaign or a brownie troop or a classroom, the foundation of what it takes to succeed is the same.

What advice do you have for current Girl Scouts?
Make time to continue doing fun things with your troop – don’t just work all the time! I am almost a decade out of high school and my troop still gets together when we are all in town for the holidays and most of us are still good friends. I met my best friend in Girl Scouts! I was in her wedding, and she was in mine. I fell out of touch with most people I knew in high school, so I am very glad I took the time to build, and maintain, strong friendships with my fellow Girl Scouts. They are all strong, fascinating women, and I am very thankful that they are still in my life!
Teach For America is the national corps of outstanding recent college graduates and professionals—of all majors, backgrounds, and career interests—who commit to teach for two years in urban and rural low-income communities and become lifelong leaders in expanding educational opportunity.  APPLY NOW to the 2013 Teach For America corps. 

SECOND-TO-LAST APPLICATION DEADLINE: Friday, January 11, 2013.  If you’re interested in learning more, find out who we look for and explore how you can get involved.