While she was studying at the University of Florida, Brittany Ferguson’s plan was to go into corporate communication.
Ferguson, who grew up in Jacksonville and graduated from Mandarin High School, even had a job lined up to do public relations for a company in New York City.
Then she attended an informational meeting about Teach For America, a national organization whose mission is to “eliminate educational inequity by enlisting high-achieving recent college graduates and professionals to teach” in schools with low-income populations.
It struck a chord with her, Ferguson said.
“I had such an amazing educational experience,” she said. “I felt a little guilty about it.”
So Ferguson decided to enlist in the Teach For America corps, making a commitment to spend two years teaching in a low-income school.
She had spent four college years and three internships preparing for the world of corporate communications, so her decision created “complete and utter shock” within her family.
“But they were very supportive,” Ferguson said.
After a summer training session, she was assigned to teach science in a middle school in Charlotte, N.C.. that was the lowest-performing middle school in the state. That school was closed after her first year as a teacher and Ferguson was assigned to a different Charlotte middle school.
It was, she said, “the most challenging and the most rewarding thing I have ever done ... Teaching is extremely hard work. It takes a special person.”
When her two-year commitment ended, she returned to Jacksonville. But she remains committed to Teach For America’s long-term goal of having corps members become life-long advocates for education equality.
She spent last year teaching at the KIPP IMPACT Middle School on McDuff Avenue. Nine months ago, she went to work for EverFi, a technology company that partners with Fortune 500 companies to create online curricula for schools. Their services are free to K-12 schools.
In Jacksonville, the focus is on financial literacy courses. As a schools manager for EverFi, Ferguson helps establish partnerships, registers students for the courses and arranges speakers. It’s a job that combines her interest in corporate communications with her experience in teaching.
“I wear a lot of different hats,” Ferguson said. “I love my job.”
Having recently purchased a 100-year-old home in Riverside, Ferguson has no problem finding things to do with her free time.
“I spend it fixing things that break,” she said.
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