NEW YORK, Apr 20, 2010 / — From April 19 to 23, with hosts Millard Drexler, CEO of J.Crew and Caroline Kennedy trying to raise awareness of education inequity by inviting local leaders into New York City schools as guest teachers as part of the Teach for America initiative.

And, on Wednesday, Apr 21 at 6:00 PM Millard Drexler and Caroline Kennedy will bring the guest teachers together for a celebration at J.Crew’s Fifth Avenue store (91 5th Avenue at 17th Street).

Among the over 20 confirmed participants are designers Kate and Andy Spade; Sherrie Westin, Sesame Workshop Chief Marketing Officer; David Westin, President of ABC News; Amy Astley, Editor in Chief Teen Vogue; Jim Cramer, host of CNBC’s Mad Money; stylist Frédéric Fekkai and Drew Nieporent, owner of Nobu and other Myriad Restaurant Group establishments.

Teach For America Week draws community leaders nationwide to support educational excellence for all children. These volunteers will visit the classrooms of Teach For America teachers, also known as corps members, and teach lessons based on their experience in business, politics, and beyond. An annual event since 1997, Teach For America Week will take place in 30 regions across the country in 2010.

“Thanks to our wonderful co-hosts, Millard Drexler and Caroline Kennedy, we have an exceptional group of New Yorkers participating in Teach For America Week this year,” said Jemina Bernard, executive director of Teach For America in New York.

Teach For America is the national corps of top recent college graduates who commit to teach for two years in urban and rural public schools and become lifelong leaders in the movement to expand educational opportunity. Teach For America’s network includes 7,300 corps members teaching in 35 regions and a national force of 17,000 alumni at the forefront of efforts to end educational inequity. This year, Teach For America received a record-breaking 46,000 applications, among which were 12 percent of seniors at the Ivy League schools.

Today in New York, 800 Teach For America corps members are reaching approximately 45,000 students in underserved schools while some 2,300 alumni are working from every sector to level the playing field for students and families in low-income communities, including 70 principals and at least 20 school district leaders.

Drexler and Kennedy spearheaded this year’s Teach For America Week in New York by inviting fellow city leaders to participate. Many of the guest teachers invited, including Drew Nieporent, Olympic Silver Medalist Tim Morehouse, and Millard Drexler himself attended New York City public schools.

“Now more than ever it is important for us to support our schools, and Teach For America Week is one way to get involved,” said Kennedy. “The guest teachers will set a wonderful example, and I am inspired by their commitment to helping the next generation get the skills and self-confidence it needs to succeed.”

“Providing students with inspiring teachers is one of the most important things we can do,” said Drexler. “I am happy to be a part of Teach For America’s program and really impressed with their commitment to making our public school systems better.”

A growing body of rigorous research demonstrates the effectiveness of Teach For America corps members as classroom teachers. A 2008 Urban Institute study updated last year found that corps members have a positive effect on student achievement relative to other teachers, including experienced teachers, traditionally prepared teachers, and those fully certified in their field. An earlier study by Mathematica Policy Research found that students of corps members make 10 percent more progress in a year in math than is typically expected and slightly exceed the normal expectation for progress in reading. Furthermore, 94 percent of principals who work with Teach For America corps members report that they have made a positive impact on their schools.