Lukas Alfen making a mark in Memphis

Lukas Alfen Making a Mark in Memphis

This past summer, United Housing hosted Lukas Alfen, an eighth grade Science teacher at Woodstock Middle School through Teach for America - Memphis, as an intern. During his internship, Lukas helped develop a process for getting financial education to teachers through financial literacy tools that are used across the country. These tools help teachers share with their students how to mitigate bad spending habits and bad credit scores through financial education at an early age.

In honor of today being World Teacher's Day, we caught up with Lukas to hear about his teaching journey and investment in the community.

How long have you been teaching at this school?
I am in my second year at Woodstock Middle School as part of my two-year service commitment for Teach for America. Prior to beginning at Woodstock, I taught summer school at Memphis Business Academy in Frayser.
What led you to the Teach for America program?
I joined the program because of my work as a teaching assistant during my undergraduate studies at Syracuse University. While there, I saw the impact a dedicated teacher can have on mindset and achievement of their students. I noticed how the strong relationships built in school helped facilitate success for students outside the classroom walls. I also felt that Teach For America would give me the opportunity to experience life in a unique part of the country, different from the Northeast.

What is the best part about teaching? Most challenging?
The best part about teaching is getting to know my students. Having conversations and hearing their opinions gives me a clearer perspective on not only myself, but my goal here in Memphis as well. Each student is so full of potential that I need to ensure I am intentional in directing their energy in ways that will prepare them for success in grade school and beyond.

The most challenging part about teaching for me is finding the time to accomplish all of the goals I have for my classroom. There are only so many hours in a day to teach students, prepare lessons, measure data and support extracurricular activities, that finding any down time is almost impossible.

Have you been able to use what you learned at United Housing this summer in your classroom this fall?
Working at United Housing has helped me better understand Memphis as a city and a community. The need to drastically improve the financial literacy skills of children in Memphis quickly became apparent. Because of this, I have committed myself to teaching the importance of learning financial education and money management skills early on to help open up opportunities in adulthood.

What inspires you to give back to your community?
My students inspire me each and every day. The teachable moments I have with them make all the work worthwhile. Going into a profession for the money was never something I wanted to do, as I would rather make a career in which my value would be measured in the impact I had on others.


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