Program Overview

The Jaffe Peace Corps Fellows participate in a rigorous and rewarding program that provides opportunities to both teach and learn with a cohort of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs.) The Jaffe Fellows return from service abroad to make a powerful impact on public school students in New York City. These dedicated individuals teach full-time in high need New York City schools while earning a master’s degree at Teachers College, Columbia University (TC).  

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

The Peace Corps Fellows Program (PCFP) staff, mentors, alumni and RPCV classmates provide a supportive community as the Jaffe Fellows embrace the challenge of balancing both full-time teaching and graduate school classes.  The PCFP was established in 1985 and has a 98% retention rate during the two years in which Fellows are teaching and studying for their master’s degrees at Teachers College (TC). Thousands of New York City students have benefitted from the nearly 730 Jaffe Fellows who bring both their global experience and Teachers College expertise to their classrooms.

As Jaffe Fellows have said, "If you think the Peace Corps was the only 'toughest job you'll ever love,' think again." The inherent challenges of conducting NYC teaching and graduate coursework at Teachers College necessitate strong executive functioning skills, enthusiasm and a lively sense of humor.

The Peace Corps Fellows Program is both grueling and exhilarating. Our program is designed to meet the challenges that new teachers face.

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The TC Jaffe Fellows benefit from an expansive preparation for the highest of honors, raising children to become global citizens.

The Fellows and New York City’s young people connect, sharing love, learning and laughter. As a former mentor and now the Program’s Director, I am honored to support these two treasures, the Jaffe Fellows and our young people, as they progress and thrive. 

~ Elaine Perlman, Peace Corps Fellows Program Director

Jaffe Fellows enjoy long and fruitful careers in education. They commit to teaching in high need NYC public schools for a minimum of three years. The Peace Corps Fellows staff, alumni network and TC Career Services Office provide assistance and support as the Jaffe Fellows’ procure teaching positions.  

Fellows often choose to teach in schools that value their international experience and commitment to service, as well as their language and cross-cultural skills.


The goals of the Peace Corps Fellows Program:


  • To recruit vibrant and diverse cohorts of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers with unique international education and service experience to teach NYC students.


  • To provide qualified, dedicated and innovative teachers of for high need public schools in New York City.


  • To support a community of engaging RPCV urban educators who are addressing educational equity and social justice through their long-term commitments to schools, communities and youth.

Our program is designed for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) who have demonstrated their commitment to service during their years in the Peace Corps. Fellows often have at least two years of experience in teaching, youth outreach, community development or related experience from their service as Peace Corps Volunteers.

The Jaffe Fellows prepare for full-time teaching by participating in the Peace Corps Fellows Program three month Intensive Summer Institute (ISI) orienting them to urban education, in both theory and practice, through many dynamic and experiential activities.

Fellows observe, reflect and participate in New York City classrooms while immersing themselves in Teachers College coursework. The summer courses provide the opportunity for Fellows to analyze their own identities while envisioning what kind of educator they aspire to become.

The ISI courses are frequently taught by PCFP alumni. The topics that are covered provide opportunities to explore:


  • Culturally relevant pedagogy

  • Urban education

  • Building and maintaining a positive classroom community

  • Teaching students with different learning styles and abilities

  • Engaging English language learners

  • Lesson planning and assessment

Our RPCV Community:  As Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, Jaffe Fellows may face unique challenges:


  • Repatriation and relocation to New York City

  • Teaching in high need urban schools

  • Balancing full-time teaching with graduate studies

  • Connecting Peace Corps experiences with new endeavors


Jaffe Fellows quickly become part of a close-knit community of PCFP alumni and staff who are experienced in the challenges of adjusting to teaching, studying at TC and living in NYC.


During the first two years of teaching, Jaffe Fellows meet monthly for seminars to extend their learning, share ideas, and visit different New York City educational and cultural institutions.


Teachers College Mentors: The Jaffe Fellows are each paired with a PCFP mentor who observes their teaching and meets with them at least ten times over the course of their first year and eight times during their second year to provide constructive feedback and professional support.Through the mentoring relationship, Jaffe Fellows are offered advice about establishing instructional priorities, implementing curriculum mandates, setting clear and realistic expectations and managing their time effectively between their work and scholarship. The mentors provide invaluable feedback about the Fellows' current practices in the classroom as they help them become reflective practitioners with a professional vision.


The Reflective Practitioner: Throughout ISI and during their years at Teachers College, Fellows reflect on and extend their practice. Fellows create and revise their own teaching philosophy statements, discuss ideas and issues with other Fellows during monthly seminars, delve into their TC coursework, and collaborate with mentors. These experiences foster critical teaching skills, encourage progress, and build strong pedagogical foundations.

The Jaffe Fellows receive Elliot and Roslyn Jaffe Scholarships covering 100% of tuition. As full-time teachers of record, Fellows receive a starting teacher's salary of approximately $58,317 depending on experience and prior academic credits, full health coverage, pension benefits, and, upon completion of the master’s degree, professional teaching credentials. Once the Jaffe Fellows earn a master’s degree, their salary rises to $67,716. New York State certification currently has reciprocity in 43 states.

There are also a number of professional benefits Fellows receive because of their enrollment in the PCFP: rigorous preparation, continued professional development at TC, a faculty advisor, one-on-one mentorship and support for two years, monthly seminars, and an alumni network of hundreds of Fellows who work in New York City schools.

We are proud to be the first Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows program in the nation. The Peace Corps Fellows Program was founded in 1985 to reduce the shortage of NYC public school teachers. Please watch this video about our Program’s early days. Teachers College has an extended history of working with governments and educational institutions around the world, including assisting in the creation of UNESCO after World War II and launching a teacher training program in East Africa that was the precursor to the Peace Corps. In the early 1960’s, many Peace Corps Volunteers trained at Teachers College before their service abroad began.  

We have provided generous scholarships and support to 730 public school teachers and educational leaders who have graduated from the program. For the past three decades, Peace Corps Fellows alumni have supported incoming Fellows by hosting them in their classrooms, providing advice and leading enriching workshops.