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Peace Corps Fellows Program
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Our Program

The Program

The Elliot and Roslyn Jaffe Peace Corps Fellows Program is an alternative teacher certification program that recruits Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs). Upon completion of a summer intensive training, Fellows teach full-time in salaried positions with the NYC Department of Education while pursuing a Masters degree in teaching. Fellows make a minimum three-year commitment to teaching and all related Masters degree coursework must be completed within this time, although the majority of our Fellows tend to graduate within two years. As a flagship Peace Corps Fellows program, we provide generous scholarships to select trainees. Since 1985 the program has recruited and trained more than 800 public school educators, and our alumni retention rate in the public school system is among the highest found anywhere in the country.

We recruit candidates in the following teacher shortage areas:

Bilingual/Bicultural Education (Spanish/English, Grades 1-6, 6-9 extension optional)

English (Grades 7-12)

Social Studies (7-12)


Math (Grades 7-12)

Science (Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science or Physics, Grades 7-12)

Intellectual Disability/Autism (Grades 1-6)


TESOL  - The Peace Corps Fellows Program does not currently offer fellowships in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). Individuals interested in this subject area should visit TR@TC for information about a newly established Teaching Residency program offering TESOL degrees and certification.

Mission Statement
To recruit exceptional Returned Peace Corps Volunteers into the teaching profession, train them to excel in New York City's high-need public schools, and support them to make long-term, professional commitments to public education.

Program Goals
  • To provide qualified, dedicated and innovative teachers of subject-shortage areas for high-poverty public schools in New York City.
  • To recruit vibrant and diverse cohorts of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers with unique international education/service experience to teach NYC students.
  • To support a community of reflective, RPCV urban educators who are addressing educational equity and social justice through their long-term commitments to urban schools, urban communities and urban youth.
Who are the Peace Corps Fellows?

The Peace Corps Fellows are a group of returned Peace Corps Volunteers who have made a powerful impact on public school students in New York City, mainly in Harlem, Washington Heights, and the Bronx. These dedicated individuals teach full time in high-poverty New York City schools, while working to complete all requirements for Masters degrees at Teachers College. They also complete all requirements for teaching certification in critical subject areas such as Science, Math, ESL, English, Bilingual, and Intellectual Disabilities/Autism. Currently, 40 first and second year Fellows are teaching full-time in New York City elementary, intermediate, and high schools, as well as in several alternative and specialized school settings.

How committed are Peace Corps Fellows to teaching in New York City public schools?

The Peace Corps Fellows is a highly selective program composed of dedicated individuals who have demonstrated their commitment, resilience and resourcefulness through the competitive application process to become a Peace Corps Volunteer, and through their two years of Peace Corps service. As Fellows, they commit to teaching in their schools for three years, and they are strongly encouraged to stay in their schools at least two more years. The program has a 98% retention rate during the two years in which Fellows are attending graduate school.

What are the benefits?

The Peace Corps Fellows Program offers Elliot and Roslyn Jaffe Scholarships ranging from $8,000 to $30,000; starting teacher's salary of approximately $48,000, depending on experience and prior academic credits (starting salary for teachers who already have a masters degree is approximately $50,728); full health coverage under Teachers' Union contract; professional teaching credential (after three years, with fulfillment of requirements); as well as loan forgiveness opportunities after teaching begins. New York State certification currently has reciprocity in 43 states.

Program Overview

Recruitment
Our program is designed from a pool of candidates whom have already proven their commitment to service, having successfully completed their term of service as Peace Corps Volunteers overseas.  All Fellows have at least two years of experience in teaching, youth outreach, or community development from their service as Peace Corps Volunteers.  All Peace Corps Fellows lived as local community members in developing countries, and those who were teachers worked full time in local schools.  All of them completed community service projects as part of their volunteer efforts.  These projects included opening libraries and resource centers, creating student clubs, organizing community clean-up efforts, and many other projects.  Nearly all Fellows speak at least one language other than English, and have two years of experience living in a culture different from their own.

Training and Practicum
Each May, new Fellows begin an intensive summer training orienting them to urban education, in both theory and practice through many dynamic and experiential activities.  Their training runs through the end of August and fulfills NYSED Transitional B Certification.  While city schools are still in session, Fellows reflectively observe and participate in New York City classrooms, and begin their Teachers College coursework.  In addition, Teachers College faculty, current teachers, and other guest speakers present a Summer Symposia on a variety of topics ranging from classroom management and learning disabilities to violence prevention and the detection of child abuse.  This fulfills the 200 hours required by New York State law for Transitional B Certification for teachers.

This symposia is designed to fulfill NYSED requirements for certifying Fellows to teach in September as Transitional B Certification teachers.  While many Fellows complete their coursework in two years, Fellows must complete all coursework requirements and pass all required tests within a three year time frame to meet eligibility requirements for New York State certification.  The summer training period enables our Fellows to be more reflective about the work they are doing, to have more adjustment time, and to get into classrooms during the regular school year so that they can get a truer sense of effective urban teaching in high-need schools.

School Placement
The summer also allows our Fellows to make the connections with principals and established teachers that may help in getting hired. While we provide assistance and support in the job search through our network of alumni and relationships with schools, ultimately, it is the responsibility of each fellow to secure his/her own teaching position for September. Even so, the Peace Corps Fellows Program prioritizes building relationships with schools and departments that are recommended by current Fellows and alumni, as well as with other supportive International Schools, Dual-Language schools, and all high-needs schools close to Teachers College. Our goal is to have a significant impact in high-need schools in our neighboring communities, and most of our Fellows work in Harlem, Washington Heights, and the South Bronx.  Regardless of the neighborhood, we strive to build stronger relationships with schools that value our Fellows' international experience, commitment to service, and language and cross-cultural skills. 

Teaching / Learning
After trainees successfully complete the 15-week summer intensive training they begin teaching full-time while taking courses in the evenings.  Unlike traditional teacher education programs, our Peace Corps Fellows do not partake in student-teaching. Instead, they begin as full time teachers in September and are mentored and supported throughout their first two years. Rigorous, exhilarating, and no doubt exhausting, our Peace Corps Fellows' experience could not be successful without three factors:

1.  Our RPCV Community: Fellows quickly become part of a close-knit community of program alumni who know intimately the challenges of readjusting to teaching and urban living. We know that this sense of connection with other RPCVs who have successfully made this transition is perhaps the most important factor in supporting Fellows in their teaching positions.

2.  Teachers College Mentors: Each Fellow is paired with a mentor who observes their teaching and meets with them at least ten times over the course of their first year in order to provide constructive feedback and professional support. In their second year of teaching, Fellows have at least 8 visits over the year from their mentors. 

3.  The Reflective Practitioner: Throughout the summer intensive training and their two to three years at Teachers College, Fellows continually reflect on their practice by creating and revising their own Teaching Philosophy Statements. Reflection occurs collectively with other Fellows during our monthly seminars, TC coursework, and collaborations with mentors, all of which helps foster critical teaching skills with strong pedagogical foundations.
The Program
Find out more about our mission and goals, recruitment, training/practicum, school placement, teaching/learning, support, and mentoring.

Meet the Fellows
Get to know the current Peace Corps Fellows.

Meet the Staff
Get to know our program staff.

Our History
Find out about how the program started in 1985.

Supporters
Current and past supporters of the Peace Corps Fellows Program

PCFP BBQs
           Check out our Peace Corps
           Fellows' BBQ events!