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Celebrities Support 'Teach for America'

Actor Dennis Hopper and investment expert Andrew Haas visited Lakewood High recently in support of public schools. The two were part of Teach for America Week, during which community leaders and celebrities taught and inspired students throughout the nation. Hopper visited teacher Maria Torres' ninth grade oceanography classroom. Haas visited teacher Elizabeth Fessler's science class. Teach For America is a national corps of outstanding college graduates of varied academic majors. The graduates spend two years teaching in larger urban and remote rural public schools. Since 1990, Teach for America has provided more than 6,000 teachers, including many in local schools. The recent event occurred simultaneously in 13 regions nationwide. Since the event's inception in 1997, almost 100 community leaders and celebrities have visited the classrooms of Teach for America teachers in Compton, Lynwood, Long Beach, Los Angeles and Pasadena. "Our teachers and students talk about the lessons learned during Teach for America Week for a long time," said Diane Robinson, executive director of Teach for America's regional office in Los Angeles. "More importantly, these lessons give our kids a sense of possibility about the future. You can't overstate the importance of that kind of impact." Hopper is an actor, director, photographer and painter. He appeared in "Rebel Without a Cause" and "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral." In 1969, he co-wrote and directed "Easy Rider," for which he won Best New Director at the Cannes Film Festival. The film, made at a cost of $340,000, grossed more than $50 million. His recent work includes appearances in "Waterworld" and the box-office hit "Speed." Haas is a Senior Managing Director of Bear Stearns with 25 years of experience in the securities industry. He joined Bear Stearns in 1982. Prior to joining the firm, he was a representative with Oppenheimer & Co. and E.F. Hutton. He is active in several civic and philanthropic organizations.