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Future Generals

It’s never too early to start talking to kids about college, and Sarah Catherine Welch, who graduated from Washington and Lee University in 2011, introduced her students at St. Peter Claver School in Decatur, Georgia, to her alma mater via a virtual tour on Smartboard.

She tweeted: “It’s college day in second grade, and we are a class of future Generals!”

Sarah Catherine is one of many W&L alumni who joined Teach For America. Over the last few years, Washington and Lee has become one of the top producers of graduates participating in the TFA program, placing it among the top 20 small colleges and universities in the country.

Sarah Catherine joined the Metro Atlanta 2011 corps right after graduation. She said, “I taught first grade for two years in the Atlanta Public Schools system, which was recovering from a massive, nationally publicized cheating scandal. While I honored my two-year commitment, I knew that I needed a change for my third year of teaching.”

She moved to St. Peter Claver School, a Catholic school that offers students free or greatly reduced tuition through scholarships funded by the Archdiocese of Atlanta or religious groups, such as the Missionaries of Charity.

“I joined TFA because I wanted to provide low-income students with expanded opportunities, opportunities that were readily available to me as a child,” she said. “After taking poverty classes with Professor Harlan Beckley and education classes with Professor Haley Sigler, I knew that teaching in an urban environment was exactly what I needed to do.”

She added, “The best part of my four years of teaching has been witnessing the joy that my students experience when they reach academic success. Their hugs, smiles and high fives make everything about the job more than worth it.”