“The people who go into TFA care about equity, and they care about justice,” Keith said. “Even if you can’t change a broken system just by yourself, you can make a change in a few kids’ lives. That’s what I want to do.”
Keith first became keenly aware of educational inequity in the U.S. when he began tutoring in a low-income school district. As he worked with these students, he saw the disparities between the education available to them and the education he had received at his affluent, predominantly white school. At Hamilton, Keith continued to learn about inequity both in his government classes and in his conversations. As he engaged in conversations with people of diverse backgrounds, he gained new perspectives and felt an increasing desire to take action.
“I feel like I should be using my privilege of going to this institution to change these messed-up systems,” he said.
While in the Mississippi Arkansas Delta Region, Keith wants to make a difference by doing more than just teaching. At the school, he hopes to start a Mindfulness Meditation after-school program to help improve students’ mental health. Outside of the school environment, he hopes to immerse himself in a new culture and engage in the area’s social movements.
“I’ve heard from people who’ve lived in the South that there’s a bigger push for racial and economic justice there because racism there is more explicit,” Keith said. “It makes me hopeful that I might be able to engage in that fight.”
Tommy Keith ’22
Hometown: Wyckoff, N.J.
High School: Ramapo High School
Activities: Student Assembly; HOC officer; Orientation intern for Adirondack Adventure; Delta Chi
Keith begins his virtual teacher training the day after graduation. In July, he will teach summer school for 14 days, and then he will move down to Mississippi in August.
“I’m excited to learn from my students and learn from the other TFA teachers,” Keith said. “This is going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I’m nervous, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”