Teach For America is a nationwide initiative aimed at addressing the shortage of teachers in the US. A recent study estimated that the nationwide shortage in 2018 was around 110 thousand, and that is expected to nearly double to 200 thousand by 2025.

Teach For America is an organization that seeks to enlist and mobilize bright, motivated future leaders and put them to work for two year stints, helping improve some of the nation’s poorest performing and most under-served public schools.

Teach For America in Baton Rouge

Laura Vinsant heads the South Louisiana region of Teach for America.

Teach For America's Laura Vinsant Out to Lunch at Mansurs on the Boulevard

Laura Vinsant

Laura is an alum of LSU and its Manship School of Mass Communications, who was drawn to TFA’s mission after graduating in 2007 because of her positive experience as a volunteer tutor. Laura spent the next two years teaching second and third grade students at a school in North Baton Rouge, and became so invested with the organization she stayed with it. Since 2016, Laura has led the South Louisiana TFA region, which was one of the six original regions the organization served. Today, Laura oversees a cohort of more than 200 teachers, who last year impacted more than 15-thousand students in the four parish region, which includes Ascension, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana and Pointe Coupee.

Teach For America Star Baton Rouge Graduate

Lucas Spielfogel is a Teach for America alumnus, who taught 7th grade at Baker Middle School during his tenure with TFA from 2010-2012.

Lucas Spielfogel, Laura Vinsant, Stephanie Riegel Out to Lunch at Mansurs on the Boulevard

Lucas Spielfogel, Laura Vinsant, Stephanie Riegel

Lucas was born in New York, raised in south Florida, went back up north for college, attending Yale University, where he graduated with a bachelor’s in history. Lucas joined TFA to give something back and after two years was so hooked on his new community that he joined the Baton Rouge Youth Coalition, an organization that helps high-achieving, under resourced teens prepare, excel and graduate from college. Since 2013, Lucas has led the organization as Executive Director, growing the number of students it serves from 50 to more than 250 across nine school districts.

Although many of us pride ourselves on how many generations back we can trace our Louisiana roots, we can be equally proud of the caliber and contribution of young people like Laura and Lucas who make the choice to move here and who are making such a significant contribution to our region.

Photos over lunch at Mansurs on the Boulevard.

You can hear more about other folks working in Baton Rouge education, here.