Summary of Program: The SpeakFirst Debate program enriches the academic experience of talented and motivated students from Birmingham-area middle and high schools through participation in academic debate.  As they sharpen their debating skills, students also improve vocabulary, critical thinking, speaking ability, and language and study skills. SpeakFirst uses academic debate as a platform to support these students and guide them on a path toward excellence in college and beyond.

The high school team (consisting of ~20 students) specializes in Public Forum Debate, which focuses on practical and philosophical questions about current domestic and foreign policy issues, and emphasizes the ability to debate and convey arguments about these issues persuasively to a judge.  In addition to debate, SpeakFirst provides our high school students one-on-one tutoring and mentoring, college admissions and financial aid guidance, standardized test preparation, cultural educational activities, and summer internships.

Our middle school program engages students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades at eight local middle schools (10-20 students per school) in an extracurricular debate program.  Practices for the league are held after school twice weekly in each school and students participate in four citywide tournaments throughout the academic year.

For more information about SpeakFirst, visit

Summary of Position:  The SpeakFirst Debate Instructor develops and implements curriculum, leads debate practices, and supervises high school students at debate tournaments.  SpeakFirst is an academic debate and college preparatory after-school opportunity for talented and motivated students from Birmingham-area schools.

SpeakFirst Debate Instructor Responsibilities:

  • Develop curriculum and plan lessons for high school debate practices
  • Lead high school practices, with the support of AmeriCorps high school coaches
  • Provide training for high school coaches
  • Communicate with parents of students to convey logistics and expectations, and to address any academic or behavioral issues
  • Attend 4-5 weekend tournaments
  • Serve as resource for Program Manager for questions related to classroom management and behavioral issues

Special Notes:  Impact America will have a SpeakFirst Program Manager who is responsible for all logistics, planning, and community partnership development for the program.  The Debate Instructor will focus on lesson planning and and facilitating debate practices and teaching high school students.  Also, two full-time AmeriCorps Members support the high school team and will be available to assist with developing plans for practice, coaching students, and assisting in supervising students at practices and tournaments.

Time Commitment:  This is an paid, hourly position that runs during the academic year.  We anticipate 10-15 hours per week, plus 4-5 weekend tournaments (which generally run Friday afternoon/evening; and all day Saturday).

Reports to: National Program Director

Location: Birmingham, AL

Skills/Experience Preferred:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Classroom management experience
  • Prior experience with debate strongly preferred, but individuals with other public speaking, communication, mock trial, or English language experience will also be considered
  • Excellent communication skills

Other Expectations:

  • Positive attitude and rapport with staff and AmeriCorps Members
  • Collaborative spirit
  • Adherence to assigned deadlines
  • Attention to detail
  • Flexibility in a dynamic service environment
  • Serve independently to design weekly schedule and activities to complete projects

Salary:  Commensurate with experience

Physical Requirements/Essential Functions: 

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an applicant to successfully perform the essential functions of this job.  Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • Sedentary physical activity requiring sitting for periods of time
  • Talking and hearing
  • 50% or more time is spent looking directly at a computer


Nondiscrimination Policy

Reasonable Accommodations Policy for Applicants with Disabilities