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A New Orleans charter network takes on special education 38 Overcoming dyslexia 44<br />

Alumni Magazine / SPRING 2014 / Edition XX<br />

Latisha Justice<br />

has a learning<br />

disability. It should<br />

determine how we<br />

teach her. But will<br />

it decide her future?<br />

1 One Day • SPRING 2014


Letter TO THE ALUMNi COMMUNITY<br />

ARE YOU<br />

READY TO<br />

LEAD?<br />

Take the next step toward becoming a superintendent, principal or supervisor.<br />

Teach For America Alumni . . . Seton Hall University provides a fast-track to an M.A. or<br />

Ed.S. degree and to a rewarding career in education administration. Our intensive, yet flexible study<br />

path, both online and on-campus, lets you earn your degree and meet eligibility requirements<br />

for supervisor, principal and school administrator certifications in just two years.<br />

Program Options Include:<br />

• Executive Cohort M.A. & Ed.S. Combines<br />

On- Campus & Online Classes<br />

• Off-Site At Select Community Colleges<br />

• National Online M.A. Degree<br />

• District “Grow-Your-Own” Leadership<br />

Partnerships<br />

• New: Charter School And Special<br />

Education Leadership<br />

• Catholic School Leadership<br />

• K-12 Supervisor Certificate<br />

Stafford Loans are available.<br />

Our programs are NCATE certified and<br />

meet state certification requirements.<br />

“There’s a lot of potential in a<br />

partnership with Teach For America<br />

and Seton Hall University for the critical<br />

preparation of urban school leaders.”<br />

Lars Clemensen ’05 and Teach For America Alumnus<br />

Superintendent of the Hampton Bays Public School, NY<br />

For more information or to attend<br />

an upcoming Webinar, visit:<br />

www.shu.edu/go/edleadertfa<br />

Contact:<br />

Al Galloway, Assistant Program Director,<br />

(973) 275-2417 • albert.galloway@shu.edu<br />

Rethinking special education<br />

Dear fellow alumni,<br />

Down at the end of the eighth<br />

grade hallway, there was<br />

a classroom of nine or ten<br />

students whose names I never<br />

learned. They were in a selfcontained<br />

special education class<br />

and rarely mixed with other<br />

students. They didn’t participate<br />

in the school-wide poetry slam, join field trips, or contribute to<br />

the after-school literary magazine. There almost seemed to be<br />

an invisible line between them and the rest of the school.<br />

The division extended beyond the students down the<br />

hall. Their teacher was a fellow corps member, but I don’t<br />

remember ever talking with her about learning strategies or<br />

sharing units and resources, as I did with other teachers at<br />

my school. More than once I heard general education teachers<br />

refer to their most disruptive students as “special ed” (though<br />

these students did not receive services), making the term<br />

sound more like a judgment than an instructional program.<br />

I taught language arts and social studies, and many of<br />

my eighth graders had significant problems with reading<br />

and writing. Whether the cause was undiagnosed learning<br />

disabilities or whether they had simply been promoted year<br />

after year through failing schools, it’s impossible to know.<br />

In the end, it doesn’t matter. Like the students down the<br />

hall, my kids faced extraordinary challenges and needed<br />

highly individualized instruction to gain ground. And yet<br />

the students in special education also had to contend with<br />

social stigma and a tacit though pervasive belief—even from<br />

many of the adults in the building—that not much could be<br />

expected from them.<br />

In the last two decades, the education reform movement<br />

has forged a compelling narrative around the influence of<br />

race and class on student achievement. Yet the conversation<br />

around disability has been remarkably muted considering its<br />

outsized impact on the educational outcomes of children of<br />

color from low-income communities.<br />

When I interviewed Latisha Justice for the cover story, it<br />

was painful to see such a bright young woman so disempowered<br />

by her disability—partly because it was easy to imagine how,<br />

in a different setting, she might flourish instead of flounder.<br />

In the absence of a proper diagnosis of her reading disability,<br />

Justice has struggled for years in all of her classes with<br />

damaging effects to her self-esteem and future prospects.<br />

But what if she were a student at Denver Academy,<br />

where Philippe Ernewein (G.N.O. ’94) leads a program for<br />

children with special needs that fundamentally honors their<br />

individuality and teaches to their strengths, not their deficits?<br />

Who would Latisha Justice be if her school were focused on<br />

maximizing her abilities, not compensating for her disability?<br />

Johannah Chase (N.Y. ’05), who heads up special education<br />

implementation for the New York Department of Education,<br />

says education reformers must come to recognize that students<br />

with disabilities are not marginal groups, but rather primary<br />

stakeholders in the fight for educational equity.<br />

“We have to break the assumption that special ed is<br />

‘other,’ ” Chase told me. “When you focus on kids with the<br />

most challenges, you figure out solutions that are applicable<br />

to everyone. This is really about figuring out how to leverage<br />

the world of special education for all kids.”<br />

Warm regards,<br />

Ting Yu<br />

N.Y. ’03<br />

Editor<br />

400 South Orange Avenue • South Orange, NJ 07079<br />

One Day • SPRING 2014 3


contents<br />

Features<br />

dO NOW<br />

You’ve always had the talent and passion.<br />

Now get the resources.<br />

12 Take 5<br />

Sophia Pappas (New Jersey ’03) is leading<br />

the charge in New York City to increase<br />

the number of students enrolled in highquality<br />

pre-K programs, starting in the most<br />

underserved neighborhoods.<br />

18 spotlight on...<br />

South Louisiana often sits in the shadow of<br />

New Orleans during conversations about<br />

school reform in the Bayou State. But thanks<br />

in part to the work of alumni in the region,<br />

South Louisiana is coming into its own.<br />

28 Something Special<br />

Special education was conceived to meet the needs of children who learn differently.<br />

Yet in schools across the country, the 6.3 million students with disabilities lag far<br />

behind their nondisabled peers. They struggle to learn within a system that emphasizes<br />

procedural compliance over academic achievement—leaving ability rights advocates to<br />

ask: Has special education become a legitimized pathway for low expectations?<br />

38<br />

Hope Renewed<br />

Charter schools have a poor reputation<br />

for serving students with disabilities, but<br />

New Orleans’ ReNEW Schools is turning that<br />

rep on its head—and hoping other charters<br />

find creative ways to do the same.<br />

20 postcard<br />

Teach For Lebanon fellow Sahar Machmouchi<br />

uses her love of Arabic and theater to inspire her<br />

students—many of them refugees, most of them<br />

girls—to strive beyond society’s expectations.<br />

22 corps 360<br />

Barbecue, the blues, and now frozen yogurt.<br />

Delta Dairy, started by Suzette Matthews (Delta<br />

’08) and Matty Bengloff (Delta ’07), is on its way<br />

to becoming a Cleveland, Miss., institution.<br />

24 media<br />

Saladin Ambar (N.Y. ’90) deepens our<br />

understanding of Malcolm X; Joe Wilkins (Delta<br />

’02) writes poems of the open road; Tyrone<br />

Simpson (L.A. ’91) examines segregation<br />

through the lens of literature; Sara Cotner (S.<br />

Louisiana ’00) tackles cooking with kids and<br />

wedding planning without losing your mind or<br />

your last penny.<br />

You joined TFA to apply your passion and intelligence. Now take it to the<br />

next level with Project L.I.F.T., a public/private partnership in Charlotte,<br />

NC. We are committed to recruiting, rewarding, and developing top<br />

educators to empower the lives of 7,500 children in nine promising public<br />

schools. With master teacher roles, performance bonuses, leadership<br />

opportunities, professional development and an unwavering commitment<br />

to all students, this is the perfect time for you to further your career and,<br />

more importantly, create successful students….all in a public school setting.<br />

Visit us at applytoLIFT.org today.<br />

44<br />

Becoming Sammie<br />

Across the country, millions of students with<br />

disabilities move from class to class, grade<br />

to grade, working harder than average but<br />

only sometimes getting the supports they<br />

need. Let’s meet one of them.<br />

50<br />

Perspectives on Ability<br />

Three alumni—Taniesha Garrison (Metro Atlanta ’03), Brent Bushey (G.N.O.<br />

’99), and Adele Jackson (S. Louisiana ’02)—share their personal stories and<br />

beliefs about what is possible when we see the person, not the diagnosis.<br />

55 INNOVATOR<br />

News is great, but not if students can’t read it.<br />

Newsela, a website founded by Matthew Gross<br />

(N.Y. ’94) and Dan Cogan-Drew (Georgia ’94),<br />

makes news stories more accessible.<br />

58 Post-its<br />

Nine alums among Forbes’ “30 Under 30” in<br />

education; new resources to find a new job; a<br />

scholarship for aspiring businesspeople.<br />

63 ALUMNI NOTES<br />

Cover and top photo by Michael Schwarz. Middle photo by Ted Jackson. Bottom photo by Sara Rubinstein.<br />

4 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 5


CONTRIBUTORS<br />

One Day<br />

tEACH FOR AMERICA Alumni Magazine<br />

Grow Your Career at Achievement First<br />

brent bushey<br />

calvin hennick<br />

(G.N.O. ’99), who<br />

(N.Y. ’04), a frequent<br />

wrote an essay<br />

about his daughter<br />

Madeleine on p. 51,<br />

serves as the<br />

executive director<br />

of the Oklahoma Public School Resource<br />

Center, a new nonprofit that supports<br />

public education by providing resources,<br />

expanding networking opportunities and<br />

advocating on behalf of public schools.<br />

When he’s not working, Brent spends time<br />

contributor to One<br />

Day, wrote “News<br />

Makers” on p. 55.<br />

Hennick writes about<br />

education and other<br />

topics for publications like the Boston<br />

Globe, Scholastic Instructor, and Scholastic<br />

Administrator. He also teaches writing at<br />

the University of Massachusetts Boston<br />

and Grub Street, an independent writing<br />

center in Boston. Hennick earned a master’s<br />

Editor<br />

Ting Yu (N.Y. ’03)<br />

ASSOCIATE EDITOR<br />

Leah Fabel (Chicago ’01)<br />

editorial associate<br />

Tim Kennedy (Delta ’11)<br />

art director<br />

Maria Burke<br />

350<br />

Number of hours that<br />

Achievement First devotes<br />

annually for teacher and leader<br />

learning and development<br />

90<br />

Percent of teachers and leaders<br />

who report that someone at<br />

Achievement First supports their<br />

learning and development<br />

with his two daughters and his wife and<br />

best friend, Kirsten Wright.<br />

Sara Rubinstein<br />

of fine arts degree in creative writing from<br />

UMass Boston, and his fiction has appeared<br />

in Bellevue Literary Review and Baltimore<br />

Review. When he’s not writing, Calvin<br />

EXECUTIVE Vice President,<br />

Alumni Affairs<br />

Andrea Stouder Pursley (Phoenix ’02)<br />

is a Minneapolisbased<br />

photographer<br />

specializing in<br />

portraits and lifestyle<br />

imagery, striving<br />

with each shot to<br />

capture her subject’s “dual nature.” Her<br />

photos are featured in the story “Becoming<br />

Sammie” on p. 44. Rubinstein has been a<br />

enjoys building block towers and watching<br />

his 3-year-old son knock them down.<br />

ted jackson is a<br />

Pulitzer-Prize-winning<br />

photojournalist with<br />

the (New Orleans)<br />

Times-Picayune. He<br />

has covered the fall of<br />

Share your news<br />

Write to onedayletters@teachforamerica.org<br />

and tell us what’s new in your life. Notes<br />

may be edited for length and clarity. Digital<br />

photos are welcome.<br />

90<br />

Percent of principals and<br />

deans who returned to<br />

Achievement First to lead<br />

this year<br />

64<br />

Percent of Achievement<br />

First principals and<br />

deans who served as<br />

TFA corps members<br />

professional photographer for more than<br />

15 years. Her work has taken her to 18<br />

countries, more than 35 states, and all<br />

across Minnesota. Her work was recently<br />

the Berlin Wall, the<br />

Persian Gulf War, and political upheaval<br />

in Haiti. His photos are featured in the<br />

story “Hope Renewed” on p. 38. In 2003,<br />

Advertise in One Day<br />

For information, please email<br />

tim.kennedy@teachforamerica.org.<br />

featured in Communication Arts magazine,<br />

a leading trade publication for visual arts.<br />

michael A.<br />

schwarz is an<br />

independent<br />

photographer based<br />

in Atlanta. He is a<br />

three-time Pulitzer<br />

Prize nominee<br />

and a winner of the Dag Hammarskjöld<br />

Award for Human Rights Advocacy<br />

Jackson photographed “LEAP Year,” a local<br />

story about one eighth-grade classroom’s<br />

preparation for the state’s high-stakes test.<br />

His photos won the 2003 Community Service<br />

Photojournalism Award from the American<br />

Society of News Editors. Through the years,<br />

he has covered the physical destruction<br />

and emotional trauma of earthquakes and<br />

hurricanes, most notably Hurricane Katrina.<br />

The Times-Picayune staff won a Pulitzer<br />

Prize for public service and another for<br />

breaking news coverage of Katrina.<br />

One Day<br />

is published by<br />

Teach For America Alumni Affairs<br />

315 W. 36th St., 6th floor<br />

New York, NY 10018<br />

onedayletters@teachforamerica.org<br />

TFA<br />

15<br />

Achievement First falls within the<br />

top 15 percent of U.S. workplaces<br />

for employee satisfaction,<br />

as measured by Gallup<br />

6<br />

Additional full days<br />

of professional<br />

development devoted to<br />

your content area<br />

Journalism. He photographed the special<br />

education cover story on p. 28. Schwarz is<br />

a Baltimore native and a graduate of the<br />

Rochester Institute of Technology.<br />

Teach For America corps members and alumni play an integral part in<br />

Achievement First’s expanding network of high-performing, college-prep,<br />

K-12 public charter schools in NY, CT and RI. To learn more about career<br />

opportunities, please visit us at www.achievementfirst.org/team.<br />

6 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 7


1 ONE DAY • FALL 2013<br />

As the Dallas Independent School District strives to become the premier urban school district<br />

in the nation, Teach For America corps members and alumni have contributed significantly to the<br />

district’s transformation.<br />

Corps members and alumni are serving in the classroom, the principalship, central office, senior<br />

leadership, and even on the Board of Trustees. All are impacting change in Dallas.<br />

Join our hard-working team by contacting Human Capital Management:<br />

■ Lindsay Coshatt (Charlotte ’06) • Design Manager • lcoshatt@dallasisd.org<br />

■ Larena Flemmings (Houston ’02) • Senior Talent Leader, Secondary Schools • lflemmings@dallasisd.org<br />

■ Carmen Darville (Houston ’06) • Chief of Human Capital Management • cdarville@dallasisd.org<br />

“In a large and diverse urban school district like<br />

Dallas ISD, there are many opportunities like<br />

mine to impact the academic achievement of<br />

students. I now contribute to the sustainable<br />

success of our campus while continuing to<br />

grow in my leadership role.”<br />

Quinton Courts<br />

Dallas ISD Assistant Principal<br />

New Jersey-Camden ‘06<br />

JOIN THE TRANSFORMATION IN DALLAS<br />

INBOX<br />

Getting political<br />

When President Obama announced<br />

his visit to my D.C. school during my<br />

first year teaching seventh grade,<br />

Edgar popped into my classroom<br />

excitedly. He wanted to ask the<br />

president about the DREAM Act.<br />

Why? I asked. Because Edgar was<br />

undocumented.<br />

My heart sank. I realized that<br />

Edgar was ineligible to to apply<br />

for federal financial aid for college.<br />

Suddenly I felt that by pushing<br />

college in my classroom, I’d been<br />

peddling a lie. “Don’t worry,” Edgar<br />

said. “Things will change by the<br />

time I graduate.”<br />

Edgar is about to be a junior, and<br />

little has changed. So I read with interest<br />

last issue’s interview with Elisa<br />

Villanueva Beard about Teach For<br />

America’s new willingness to speak<br />

up on issues of public policy like the<br />

DREAM Act. “It’s our right and<br />

responsibility,” she said. I applaud<br />

her vision.<br />

But I challenge Beard and other<br />

alumni to reconsider the notion that<br />

it’s “not political, it’s a question of<br />

educational equity.” It is political,<br />

and that’s okay. As an organization<br />

with 32,000 alumni, we’ll only create<br />

policy change for educational equity<br />

if we get comfortable with the power<br />

in our numbers and begin organizing<br />

for political influence. A good way to<br />

start is by listening to our students<br />

and their families about the pressures<br />

they feel are most important<br />

in their lives.<br />

Edgar and millions of other kids<br />

are counting on courageous adults to<br />

change things for them. If not us, who?<br />

If not now, when?<br />

TFA steps up support of DREAMers 50 Diversity drives culture at KIPP Academy Lynn Collegiate 52<br />

ALUMNI MAGAZINE / FALL 2013 / EDITION XIX<br />

DREAM<br />

DEFERRED<br />

Miguel is one of the 65,000 undocumented<br />

students who will graduate from U.S. high<br />

schools this year. He dreams of a bright<br />

future, but can he get there?<br />

teaching “All children”<br />

Only 65,000 undocumented students a<br />

year make it to high school graduation.<br />

Another 1.4 million do not.<br />

Almost one-fourth of those who are<br />

deported have children who are U.S.<br />

citizens. Each year, 3,000 kids are placed<br />

into foster care following their parents’<br />

deportation. Meanwhile, thousands of<br />

deported U.S. children do not have<br />

citizenship in their parents’ country of<br />

origin and are unable to attend school.<br />

Thank you for putting Arizona<br />

DREAMer, Miguel Ruiz, on the cover<br />

of One Day. TFA deserves praise for<br />

extending Deferred Action for Childhood<br />

Arrivals recipients the opportunity to<br />

serve as corps members, but Miguel’s<br />

story reminds us that we shouldn’t pat<br />

ourselves on the back just yet. TFA must<br />

stress that “one day, all children” includes<br />

both undocumented students and the<br />

U.S. citizen children of undocumented<br />

parents. Until Congress fixes this nation’s<br />

broken immigration system, Miguel, his<br />

family, 11 million aspiring Americans,<br />

and 16 million individuals who are a part<br />

of mixed-status families will face persisting<br />

academic and economic uncertainty.<br />

olga’s story<br />

Soon after President Obama announced<br />

his executive order, DACA which grants<br />

eligible undocumented individuals a stay<br />

from deportation, I received a phone call<br />

from an alumna of IDEA Public Schools<br />

in the Rio Grande Valley. Olga Prado, a<br />

graduate of IDEA, a first-generation<br />

college graduate, and a DREAMer, wanted<br />

to know if there was anything we could<br />

do to help her pay the $6,000 in legal fees<br />

required to prepare her and her sister’s<br />

DACA applications.<br />

In January 2013, in partnership with<br />

the University of Texas at Austin School<br />

of Law (an effort led by Tina Fernandez<br />

[N.Y. ’94]), IDEA hosted free clinics<br />

to help our local DREAMers apply for<br />

DACA. Olga completed her application<br />

and, a few months later, she received<br />

deferred action.<br />

Like so many DREAMers, Olga was<br />

brought here as a young child by her<br />

parents, immigrants who came to America<br />

in pursuit of greater opportunities for<br />

their children. Olga and her sister worked<br />

hard, honored their teachers, and found<br />

ways—big and small—to give back to their<br />

community. Olga defied the odds—earning<br />

her high school diploma and graduating<br />

from college in four years, joining the<br />

only 8 percent of low-income students<br />

who do this.<br />

Olga is now a teacher at her alma<br />

mater, IDEA College Prep Donna, and<br />

leads her sixth graders, some of whom<br />

are DREAMers, toward extraordinary<br />

academic results.<br />

This was made possible by everyone<br />

who came together for Olga, and for our<br />

DREAMers in the Rio Grande Valley. As<br />

IDEA’s chief schools officer, JoAnn Gama<br />

(R.G.V. ’97), often says, “When everyone<br />

else says no, we say yes.”<br />

Veronica madrigal (D.C. Region ’10)<br />

Rio Grande Valley, Texas<br />

Unai montes-irueste (L.A. ’98)<br />

Los Angeles<br />

Phillip garza (HOUSTON ’03)<br />

Rio Grande Valley, Texas<br />

3700 Ross Ave., Dallas, TX 75204 • (972) 925-3700 • www.dallasisd.org<br />

8 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 9


Fist Bump / Sequoyah Middle School / Doraville, Ga. / Feb. 15, 2014, 9:15 a.m.<br />

Upbeat and witty, Michael Roblero, 13, loves watching wrestling and soccer. He jokes about becoming a “video<br />

game tester” when he grows up. Roblero also has cerebral palsy, a congenital neurologic disorder that affects<br />

movement and muscle coordination. He gets around mainly by wheelchair with help from his aide Gariel Pineiro,<br />

left. Roblero’s math resource teacher Allison Bohl (Metro Atlanta ’11), right, believes his disability led past teachers<br />

to underestimate his potential. “He hadn’t been taught to work with fractions, integers, or decimals,” Bohl says.<br />

He had never passed a standardized test until last year, when he passed all of them and earned the school’s “most<br />

improved” award for math. “It’s truly not that we’re doing anything extraordinary—it’s that we expect him to pass,<br />

and he met those expectations,” Bohl says. “Now he can say, ‘I know I’m capable of doing this.’”<br />

10 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 11


Do now<br />

Coding in Carolina • The gifted gap • Malcolm X revisited • Alums leading Atlanta • D.C. and Tennessee take flight<br />

When more kids attend high-quality pre-K, New York City wins, says Sophia Pappas. “There are tremendous<br />

long-term benefits—everything from higher incomes to lower rates of teen pregnancy and juvenile crime.”<br />

take five<br />

Across the country, more than<br />

1.3 million kids attend pre-kindergarten programs, up<br />

from 700,000 in 2001. New York City has been at the forefront of this growth<br />

under the leadership of Sophia Pappas (New Jersey ’03), executive director<br />

of the district’s Office of Early Childhood Education. Since 2001, the number<br />

of 4-year-olds enrolled in pre-K programs from the Bronx to Brooklyn has<br />

risen from 35,000 to 59,000. In the current school year alone, the city’s highestneed<br />

areas saw an increase of 4,000 seats. Pappas, 32, aims to provide pre-K<br />

access to all 4-year-olds, beginning with neighborhoods most in need—and to<br />

ensure beyond question that each site is an inspiring place to begin a lifetime<br />

of learning. The prognosis is promising: a 7-to-1 return on financial investment<br />

in high-quality pre-K, according to conservative estimates—and studies show<br />

academic gains are even higher for children growing up in poverty.<br />

By Leah Fabel (Chicago ’01)<br />

Photo by Tamara Porras<br />

1What skills and talents are amplified<br />

in a great pre-K teacher, as opposed<br />

to an elementary or high school<br />

teacher? What’s unique is that when we<br />

talk about school readiness, oftentimes<br />

we’re talking about adjusting children to<br />

their first formal learning environment.<br />

So when a pre-K teacher thinks about<br />

gains that need to be made, she or he<br />

needs to think about skills in all areas of<br />

development—cognitive skills, language,<br />

and literacy, but also social-emotional<br />

skills, and the ways in which kids<br />

approach learning.<br />

2Do pre-K teachers have different<br />

responsibilities when it comes to<br />

engaging families? Families tend to be<br />

more involved at the beginning of their<br />

child’s education, so pre-K teachers<br />

need to think really strategically about<br />

how to hook them, and how to help<br />

them navigate the school system. You’re<br />

equipping parents with the skills and<br />

knowledge they need to be an effective<br />

partner and advocate for their child for<br />

the next 12 years.<br />

3A lot of states and school districts<br />

are looking to expand early childhood<br />

options. What are the smartest<br />

ways to go about that? It’s important to<br />

look at expansion through the lens of<br />

access, participation, and quality. We<br />

look at how many kids are enrolled in<br />

kindergarten in particular areas, versus<br />

the pre-K options available. If there’s<br />

a service gap but parents aren’t taking<br />

advantage of existing options, then you<br />

have to unpack why that is, and address<br />

that. Is it a lack of information? Are they<br />

not wanting the options available? Or is<br />

it something else?<br />

Then there’s the quality part—whatever<br />

the setting, you need to build in quality<br />

assurance at all stages, from the application<br />

process to the classroom efforts<br />

to whatever levers you have after that.<br />

And you have to think in relation to the<br />

K-12 system. Everything we do is focused<br />

on school readiness, so you need to have<br />

aligned learning standards.<br />

4As enrollment has increased, a<br />

lack of high-quality leadership<br />

has hampered many early-childhood<br />

efforts. How are you addressing that?<br />

In terms of building our pipeline, we<br />

established an early-childhood leadership<br />

institute this fall—part of a larger<br />

initiative called FirstStep NYC. The<br />

institute is housed at a new, full-day,<br />

year-round site in Brownsville—one of<br />

our most at-risk communities—serving<br />

children 6 weeks old to 5 years old. We<br />

expect the institute to train and develop<br />

more than 1,000 high-quality pre-K educators<br />

over the next five years. What’s<br />

key is that we’re supporting the existing<br />

workforce with scholarships, targeted<br />

training, and peer-learning communities,<br />

but we’re also building a pipeline<br />

of future leaders by partnering with<br />

organizations like TFA, JumpStart, and<br />

institutions of higher education.<br />

5What are the signs for parents<br />

that their child is in a high-quality<br />

early-childhood program? Every parent<br />

is looking for something a little different,<br />

but you want to make sure this is a<br />

welcoming environment for you and your<br />

child. It may not be a completely opendoor<br />

policy, but there should be chances<br />

to visit. And intentionality is important.<br />

It’s a good sign if they’re focused on<br />

learning objectives in all areas—<br />

cognitive, language, social-emotional,<br />

physical—and they have ways to<br />

regularly observe and monitor progress.<br />

You want your kids to have opportunities<br />

for active, hands-on learning, and to<br />

make choices about their learning—but<br />

also to know there’s purposeful planning<br />

to make sure all kids are getting what<br />

they need to be successful. <br />

by the numbers<br />

Modern gifted and talented education has its roots in Cold<br />

War-era, Sputnik-fueled fears that America’s best and brightest were<br />

falling behind. Fifty years later, gifted programs are widespread but vary<br />

significantly in scope and implementation—in most states, the decisions<br />

about funding, identification, and instruction of gifted students are left<br />

to local school districts. One enduring criticism of gifted education is<br />

the under-representation of minority students in gifted programs, with<br />

African American and Latino children under-represented by as much as<br />

50 percent, according to some estimates.<br />

PERCENTAGE OF K-12 STUDENTS ENROLLED IN GIFTED<br />

AND TALENTED PROGRAMS, BY RACIAL BACKGROUND<br />

7 % %<br />

7<br />

4<br />

%<br />

12<br />

%<br />

5<br />

6<br />

%<br />

%<br />

All students<br />

White students<br />

African American<br />

students<br />

Latino students<br />

Asian American/<br />

Pacific Islander<br />

students<br />

Native American<br />

students<br />

Source: 2009 Civil Rights Data Collection—Estimated Values for United States, Office of<br />

Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education<br />

12 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 13


do now<br />

do now<br />

Chisom Onuorah (middle) shows off her web design skills at the Northampton Summer STEM<br />

Program’s parent and community night. Co-founder Grayson Cooper (E.N.C. ’12) (top right) looks on.<br />

The summer after his first year teaching<br />

at Northampton County High School<br />

in Conway, N.C., Dale Hammer (E.N.C.<br />

’11) tried to launch a summer program<br />

for his Advanced Placement Calculus students.<br />

He was defeated by the cost of busing<br />

students from the county’s farthest<br />

reaches, more than 40 miles away.<br />

But luck struck in the fall. A chance<br />

meeting between Hammer’s girlfriend,<br />

Elizabeth Chen (E.N.C. ’10), and a North<br />

Carolina state legislator led to an introduction<br />

to the state’s superintendent of<br />

public instruction, who agreed to earmark<br />

$50,000 for Hammer’s idea. The<br />

Northampton Summer STEM Program<br />

was born.<br />

Hammer conceived the four-week<br />

program solely to serve AP Calculus<br />

students—the school had never had a<br />

student pass the AP Calculus exam. But<br />

the vision soon broadened—driven, in<br />

part, by community demand—to include<br />

other math and science courses. Hammer<br />

then partnered with fellow teacher<br />

Grayson Cooper (E.N.C. ’12) to expand<br />

enrollment to all grades and introduce a<br />

technology component.<br />

“[Web design] is something we saw as<br />

a definite entry point into future oppor-<br />

making summer count arkansan advantage<br />

Children as young as 18<br />

tunities,” Cooper says. “We really aimed<br />

for a level of professionalism and authenticity,<br />

pushing [students] further than<br />

they thought they were capable.” Students<br />

soon were designing websites for local<br />

businesses, including an internal site<br />

for Teach For America’s Eastern North<br />

Carolina region.<br />

Bethany Martin, a Northampton senior<br />

who worked on the Teach For America<br />

project, says she’s hoping to inspire<br />

girls in earlier grades to get involved<br />

in Web design, a male-dominated field.<br />

“You have to push your way inside the<br />

boys’ club and realize this skill is valuable<br />

for everybody. When you’re female,<br />

it’s even more valuable—you’re very<br />

marketable.”<br />

The program’s first-summer results<br />

were promising—across the various<br />

courses, student practice test scores<br />

rose an average of 28 percentage points<br />

between the first day of class and the<br />

last. Hammer and Cooper plan to double<br />

enrollment to 80 students next summer<br />

and potentially branch out into adult<br />

education. Eight of Cooper’s students—<br />

including four who participated in the<br />

summer program—will take the AP<br />

Calculus test in May.<br />

“I view our service to the community<br />

right now as building trust in our<br />

schools,” Hammer says. “I hope our<br />

program shows [families] that, yes, we<br />

can get your children the opportunities<br />

and access to the education that they<br />

really deserve.”<br />

“Web design is something we saw as a definite<br />

entry point into future opportunities. We<br />

really aimed for a level of professionalism and<br />

authenticity, pushing students further than<br />

they thought they were capable.”<br />

In its first year, the Arkansas Teacher Corps attracted 135 applicants—nearly half of them originally<br />

from low-income communities, says the program’s executive director Benton Brown (Delta ’09).<br />

Adam Sweatman, a first-year teacher<br />

in Pine Bluff, Ark., overheard his students<br />

one day talking about Oceans, a locally<br />

renowned fried fish and chicken joint.<br />

“I said, ‘Hey, I like Oceans!’” Sweatman<br />

says. “They were like, ‘Mr. Sweatman,<br />

you know Oceans?’ ‘Yes! I’m from here!’”<br />

Sweatman’s Arkansas roots are<br />

more than just a folksy perk; they are<br />

key to his work as an inaugural member<br />

of the Arkansas Teacher Corps,<br />

a program that recruits graduates of<br />

Arkansas colleges and universities to<br />

teach for three years in underserved<br />

areas of the state—like Teach For America<br />

writ local.<br />

“I think it’s inherent in so many<br />

people…to want to help individuals in<br />

their home,” says ATC executive director<br />

and Arkansas native Benton Brown<br />

(Delta ’09), who developed the<br />

program in 2012 with the support of the<br />

University of Arkansas. “We’re able to<br />

tap into that.”<br />

Brown taught in the Delta town<br />

of Helena, Ark., before moving for family<br />

reasons to a school in Bentonville, a more<br />

affluent district in the northwest part of<br />

the state. “I knew when I left Bentonville<br />

[to found the ATC] they were going<br />

to fill my position with a very good math<br />

teacher,” Brown says. “I didn’t know that<br />

when I left Helena.”<br />

Lee Vent, superintendent of the<br />

Clarendon School District, about 70<br />

miles east of Little Rock, struggles each<br />

year to hire enough great teachers.<br />

“Our pay scale is not competitive,” he<br />

says. According to state data, first-year<br />

teachers make nearly $13,000 less per<br />

year in Clarendon than they would in<br />

wealthier parts of the state. Without the<br />

help of two ATC fellows and one Teach For<br />

America corps member this year, Vent<br />

says, “there was no way humanly possible<br />

to fill those positions.”<br />

In all, 21 ATC fellows were placed in<br />

9 school districts, after a summer training<br />

modeled in part on Teach For America’s<br />

summer institute. Jared Henderson,<br />

executive director of Teach For America<br />

Arkansas, where the corps numbers<br />

189, says the programs see themselves<br />

more as partners than competitors. “We<br />

both have a mindset that our mission<br />

is first and foremost about increasing<br />

opportunity for as many kids as quickly as<br />

we can.” Tim Kennedy (delta ’11)<br />

findings<br />

months may reveal a<br />

language gap based on family<br />

income level—younger than<br />

previously believed. Researchers<br />

from Stanford University measured<br />

toddlers’ response time to<br />

instructions such as “Look at the<br />

ball,” and found that children from<br />

low-income backgrounds, on<br />

average, took about 25 percent<br />

longer to respond. The gap persisted<br />

in follow-up tests six months later.<br />

(Stanford Report, September 2013)<br />

Great teachers, brace<br />

yourselves: Assigning more<br />

students to top instructors—even<br />

when that means above-average<br />

class sizes—may lead to better<br />

results for all of a school’s<br />

students. Researchers found that<br />

achievement among eighth graders<br />

could increase by a measure of 2½<br />

weeks of classroom time when a<br />

school’s “highly effective” teachers<br />

have up to 12 students more than the<br />

average class size. (The Thomas B.<br />

Fordham Institute, November 2013)<br />

1 + 1 = a better learning<br />

experience for kids playing<br />

math video games, whether<br />

competitively or as partners.<br />

Researchers at New York University<br />

and the City University of New York<br />

found that students adopted a<br />

“mastery mindset” when paired with a<br />

peer, making the educational aspects<br />

of the game more effective than when<br />

played alone. Another plus: Playing<br />

with a partner made the games more<br />

fun, too. (Journal of Educational<br />

Psychology, November 2013)<br />

14 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 15


do now<br />

do now<br />

from corps members to<br />

board members<br />

Four alumni aim to rebuild trust in Atlanta’s schools<br />

By Leah Fabel (Chicago ’01)<br />

In July 2011, news of Atlanta Public Schools’ widespread cheating<br />

scandal shocked the city and drew national attention. More than half<br />

of the district’s 65 elementary and middle schools were implicated, and<br />

ultimately 35 educators—including then-superintendent Beverly Hall—were<br />

indicted on charges ranging from making false statements to theft and<br />

racketeering. Trust evaporated overnight from a system that had been<br />

perceived as on the rise, and thousands of struggling students lost out on<br />

honest assessments of their academic progress.<br />

In 2013, each of the nine of seats on the Atlanta Board of Education was<br />

up for election, offering the city hope for a fresh start. Four of the candidates<br />

were Teach For America alumni, and all of them won: Eshé Collins (Metro<br />

Atlanta ’02) now represents a southeast Atlanta district, while Courtney<br />

English (Metro Atlanta ’07), Jason Esteves (Houston ’05), and Matt<br />

Westmoreland (Metro Atlanta ’10) secured the board’s three citywide<br />

seats. “Restoring faith that APS can work for our kids will be a huge hurdle,<br />

and we can’t do it alone,” says English, now the board chair. “We’re going to<br />

need the community to stand up in a powerful way to help make it happen.”<br />

Eshé Collins’ mother didn’t want to<br />

gamble on her children’s education,<br />

so when it came time for school, she<br />

sent them to live with their grandmother<br />

in the suburbs. “I was a child<br />

with two lives,” says Collins, a project<br />

director with Jumpstart early education.<br />

“At school [in DeKalb County],<br />

I was challenged intellectually and<br />

invested socially, and I came home on the weekends to my<br />

childhood friends having babies at 16.” More than 25 years<br />

later, the schools in Collins’ neighborhood are still subpar.<br />

“Part of why I ran is because I just got tired of years and<br />

years of failure,” she says. “It’s personal for me.”<br />

Collins on being the only woman of color<br />

on the board:<br />

“It matters to me in a lot of ways. It definitely increases<br />

the level of accountability and transparency I must<br />

have to my community. I am the only black woman<br />

on the board of a district where the majority of homes<br />

in our lowest-performing communities are led by<br />

single, African American mothers. I feel obligated in a<br />

very personal way to be that voice representing their<br />

concerns and their needs.”<br />

Courtney English<br />

grew up in Atlanta,<br />

where he took seventh<br />

grade social<br />

studies in the same<br />

classroom where he<br />

taught it later as a<br />

corps member. He<br />

was elected to the<br />

school board in 2009, and is the only incumbent<br />

to be re-elected after the cheating<br />

scandal. Throughout the campaign, he and<br />

his alum colleagues endured criticism related<br />

to their Teach For America affiliation,<br />

but it didn’t stick. “Parents want high-quality<br />

teachers, good principals, safe learning<br />

environments, a responsible and equitable<br />

use of resources,” English says. “Ultimately,<br />

people selling conspiracy theories about<br />

a corporate reform movement didn’t gain<br />

traction, because that’s not what parents<br />

were concerned about.”<br />

English on what to expect<br />

from the new board:<br />

“I think you’ll see three things.<br />

One, a focus on school autonomy.<br />

We’ll be looking to decentralize<br />

operational systems to give the<br />

people closest to our kids the<br />

ability to allocate resources as<br />

they see fit. Two, a focus on<br />

wraparound and support services<br />

dealing with issues of poverty,<br />

workforce development, parental<br />

literacy rates—things that impact<br />

our kids long before they walk<br />

through the school doors. And<br />

three, early childhood education<br />

will be absolutely critical. We’ll<br />

move quickly to provide universal<br />

pre-K to every kid who plans on<br />

attending Atlanta Public Schools.”<br />

Jason Esteves went to law school to address the issues<br />

he saw holding back his students at Houston’s Fonville<br />

Middle School—issues like a flawed juvenile justice system<br />

and a lack of wraparound services. After earning his law<br />

degree from Emory University in Atlanta, he returned to<br />

Houston to see his students graduate from high school, and<br />

was struck by how many of them had dropped out. “I realized<br />

that my two years in the classroom were not enough,”<br />

says Esteves, who continues to work full time as a business<br />

litigator. Serving on Atlanta’s board “represents my best opportunity to have that<br />

direct impact on kids.”<br />

Esteves on the board’s mandate:<br />

“During the campaign, every winning candidate—TFA or not—<br />

made it pretty clear that we were going to work very hard to take<br />

money away from the central office and put it in the classroom,<br />

where it belongs. And the city responded by electing us by a<br />

very large margin.”<br />

While a student at Atlanta’s Grady High School, Matt<br />

Westmoreland sat in college-prep classes with mostly<br />

white, mostly upper-income peers, even as Grady’s student<br />

body was majority minority. As a corps member, he<br />

saw that same gap play out district wide. Westmoreland<br />

started to attend school board meetings, but quickly<br />

became frustrated. “It was adults bickering, rarely<br />

doing anything to help my kids.” So he made the difficult<br />

decision to run, even though a victory would require leaving<br />

the classroom. “I spent the day with amazing kids, but we had a system<br />

that wasn’t doing what it needed to do to get them ready to succeed.”<br />

Westmoreland on choosing a new superintendent:<br />

“Our job is to hire an awesome superintendent who will re-energize<br />

parents, students, teachers, and leaders in the school system, and<br />

take to heart the idea that decisions about education are best made<br />

by the people closest to kids. That refrain was repeated so much<br />

throughout the campaign that I think we have people in Atlanta who<br />

really believe that, and a board that does, too. We’ll hire someone<br />

who’ll make that happen.” <br />

16 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 17


do now<br />

do now<br />

corps connection<br />

One Day asked corps members who teach special education:<br />

What has surprised you the most about being a special education teacher?<br />

South Louisiana corps members celebrated the school year’s close at a supporter’s home in New Roads, La.<br />

spotlight on<br />

South Louisiana<br />

Alicia Escobar<br />

(N.Y. ’12)<br />

9th-12th grade special<br />

education<br />

“I teach special education<br />

in an integrated coteaching<br />

(ICT) setting. Coming into Teach<br />

For America, I had this idea that I would<br />

be teaching 30 kids in a classroom all my<br />

own—my decisions and choices. But in an<br />

ICT setting, you’re 100 percent reliant on<br />

your co-teacher, and I also work closely<br />

with our guidance counselor, other special<br />

education teachers, my special education<br />

coordinator, my principal. It’s about<br />

working together, bouncing ideas off one<br />

another constantly, and figuring out what<br />

works for all of our kids.”<br />

Lauren Levy (L.A. ’13)<br />

9th-11th grade special<br />

education<br />

“When someone says<br />

‘special education,’<br />

people immediately<br />

think moderate to severe [disabilities], like<br />

cerebral palsy or Down syndrome. The<br />

biggest surprise for me was working with<br />

children who have ‘hidden’ disabilities, like<br />

visual or auditory processing disorders. A<br />

lot of them have no idea—even at 15, 16,<br />

17—that they should use their disability<br />

to empower them and speak up for<br />

themselves. You really do become an<br />

advocate for them, teaching them what their<br />

own rights are and how they can get what<br />

they need in order to succeed in school.”<br />

Karlena Riggs<br />

(Oklahoma ’12)<br />

3rd-6th grade special<br />

education<br />

“It’s really my students’<br />

resilience that has<br />

surprised me the most. Most of them<br />

have been in special education for a<br />

while—months, if not years. School has<br />

always been a struggle for them, but<br />

they just keep coming back excited to<br />

learn and can still be excellent students<br />

when their needs are met. If school had<br />

been such a struggle for me, I can’t<br />

imagine how hard it would have been<br />

to make myself go, even in elementary<br />

school. But they keep giving their best<br />

effort. It’s astonishing and inspiring.”<br />

As Louisiana integrated its public schools<br />

following Brown v. Board of Education,<br />

thousands of white students from the Baton<br />

Rouge area fled to private—and often allwhite—alternatives.<br />

The effects linger—today,<br />

students of color make up more than<br />

80 percent of the region’s school systems.<br />

In 1990, South Louisiana became one of<br />

Teach For America’s six charter regions,<br />

but it took years to develop the momentum<br />

necessary for progress beyond individual<br />

classrooms, says Michael Tipton (N.Y.<br />

’05), the region’s executive director and a<br />

Baton Rouge native. Policy changes made<br />

in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina<br />

accelerated reforms, and alums started to<br />

move into leadership positions—not only<br />

at schools, but within the government and<br />

local nonprofits. “We’ve spent the last seven<br />

years building up that base of people to<br />

rally around a shared vision of progress for<br />

our students,” Tipton says. “Now, the reform<br />

movement in the region is far bigger than<br />

we are, and Teach For America can play one<br />

role among many partners pushing toward<br />

the same vision of excellence.”<br />

fast facts<br />

6 Number of parishes served by corps members | 444,526 Population of<br />

East Baton Rouge Parish, the region’s largest | 83 Percentage of students<br />

in East Baton Rouge Parish School System who qualify for free or reducedprice<br />

lunch | 88 Percentage of students of color in East Baton Rouge Parish<br />

School System | 82 Percentage of parish students who are African American<br />

did you know?<br />

Almost 5 percent of the residents of Pointe Coupee<br />

Parish, a corps member placement area, speak French<br />

or Cajun French as their home language.<br />

stats<br />

1990<br />

Year placements started<br />

South Louisiana’s alumni in leadership roles<br />

include Bethany France (S. Louisiana ’02), director<br />

of Louisiana A+ Schools; Chris Meyer (G.N.O. ’04),<br />

founder and CEO of New Schools for Baton Rouge;<br />

and Lucas Speilfogel (S. Louisiana ’10), executive<br />

director of the Baton Rouge Youth Coalition.<br />

THRIVE, the state’s only charter boarding<br />

school, was founded in Baton Rouge in 2011 by<br />

Sarah Broome (S. Louisiana ’08) and is one of fewer<br />

than 10 such public schools in the entire country.<br />

Baton Rouge’s annual Mardi Gras parade has<br />

become an unofficial homecoming for Teach For<br />

America South Louisiana.<br />

158<br />

First- and second-year<br />

corps members at the<br />

start of the 2013-14<br />

school year<br />

185<br />

Alumni in region<br />

63<br />

Percentage of alumni<br />

in education<br />

18 One Day • SPRING 2014


do now<br />

Photos by Nour Ayoub<br />

Q Tell me about your students.<br />

A “I have about 150 students from<br />

kindergarten through sixth grade.<br />

They’re from all over the region—<br />

Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Egypt—<br />

but the consistent factor for them is<br />

poverty. In wealthier areas, schools<br />

take it upon themselves to do fundraising,<br />

but in poor areas, that’s not as<br />

prevalent. One example is extracurricular<br />

activities—they were nonexistent<br />

at our school until I started the<br />

drama club. And that’s been so important<br />

to students’ happiness in school to<br />

be able to work with them outside of<br />

the classroom.”<br />

Sahar Machmouchi grew up in rural Lebanon challenging societal expectations all the way to her master’s degree. Now she hopes her students can do the same.<br />

Greetings from Lebanon<br />

Teach For Lebanon is part of the Teach For All network operating in 32 countries around the world<br />

By Tim Kennedy (Delta ’11) with translation by Amal Muna<br />

Lebanon’s population has with book bags, supplies, and even temporary<br />

schools. But for educators like Teach For<br />

grown by a third since 2011,<br />

as more than 1 million Syrian Lebanon fellow Sahar Machmouchi, incredible<br />

refugees—including nearly challenges remain as she leads students from<br />

400,000 school-aged children— diverse educational backgrounds, impacted by<br />

have fled there to escape a the trauma of warfare, and sharing poverty as<br />

brutal civil war. The nation’s a common denominator. “The language that<br />

ministry of education and international<br />

relief agencies have taken steps to ac-<br />

you would think it was a 20-year-old talking,”<br />

these students are using to describe their pain,<br />

commodate the influx—the ministry extended says Machmouchi, who teaches Arabic and drama<br />

in the city of Saida, about 30 miles south<br />

the school registration deadline this year by a<br />

month to ease access for newly displaced students,<br />

and many refugees have been provided given the hardships they’ve<br />

of Beirut. “They’ve had to mature very quickly<br />

seen.”<br />

Q Your school is all-girls, except<br />

for some mixed-gender classes in<br />

the early grades. How does this<br />

impact your teaching? A Given the<br />

poverty in the area, education is valued<br />

a bit more for boys than it is for girls. A<br />

lot of girls end up leaving school after<br />

sixth grade—they stay home and help<br />

their parents, or take a job, or they even<br />

get married. Part of what’s really<br />

difficult for me is trying to change<br />

perceptions—to get them to see themselves<br />

in education long term. I talk<br />

about how I struggled and worked two<br />

jobs to finish my master’s degree in<br />

journalism. And especially in the older<br />

grades, I try to incorporate a lot of<br />

gender conversations to prepare my<br />

students for the dynamics in higher education<br />

settings. With sixth grade drama<br />

students, I include a boy character in<br />

every sketch we perform. It’s a conversation<br />

point in my classroom.”<br />

Q Most of your students’ parents<br />

aren’t highly educated. How do<br />

you work with them to support<br />

this shift in students’ perceptions?<br />

A “I often go outside of the bounds<br />

of my teaching. For example, I’m a<br />

coordinator with the World Human<br />

Rights Forum—an international<br />

group of human rights activists and<br />

organizations—and I work with the<br />

(Top) Machmouchi’s school is in Saida’s Old<br />

City, home to a large and mostly poor population<br />

of refugees from around the Middle East.<br />

(Bottom left and right) Machmouchi’s passion<br />

is for the Arabic language and its potential to<br />

improve society by raising students’ standards<br />

for news and dialogue.<br />

community that way. I also work with<br />

friends—one of whom works for the<br />

local government, and another who<br />

leads parent workshops on topics like<br />

positive discipline. Because many of<br />

the parents are not educated, they<br />

don’t necessarily know how to support<br />

their own children’s learning. Through<br />

the work, I’ve seen a lot of parents open<br />

up when they see how attached their<br />

students are to me as a teacher, and to<br />

their schoolwork. They ask, ‘How did<br />

you make this happen?’ That’s an<br />

opening to talk about positive ways to<br />

get kids to study and want to learn.”<br />

Q You teach formal Arabic, as<br />

opposed to the colloquial Arabic<br />

used for daily interactions. What’s<br />

the value of formal Arabic,<br />

which is incredibly difficult to<br />

learn? A “Formal Arabic is the<br />

language of the media and the<br />

government. If you turn on the news,<br />

or pick up a book, no matter what<br />

country it’s from, it’s going to be the<br />

same. It can be drastically different<br />

from spoken Arabic—it can feel like a<br />

different language. But without it, we<br />

can’t be active citizens. We can’t<br />

be well versed in other languages or<br />

navigate a global world if we don’t have<br />

a grasp of our own language. I truly<br />

believe that the more we raise<br />

the quality of our own language, the<br />

better the quality of society. The output<br />

we show to the world will be of a<br />

better quality.” <br />

20 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 21


do now<br />

corps 360<br />

fro-yo, delta style<br />

“Yogology” plus Cheetos creates a small-town hangout<br />

By Leah Fabel (Chicago ’01)<br />

here’s a bright-orange hue to swirls of frozen<br />

T<br />

yogurt at Delta Dairy in downtown Cleveland,<br />

Miss.—and a crunchy kick unknown to fro-yo shops<br />

from Santa Monica to Park Slope. “Hot Cheetos,” says<br />

proprietress Suzette Matthews (Delta ’08), as if Flamin’ Hots are<br />

an obvious choice alongside fresh fruit, Oreo crumbles, and other<br />

do-it-yourself toppings.<br />

Suzette opened Delta Dairy in April 2013 with her business<br />

partner and now husband Matty Bengloff (Delta ’07). The hot<br />

Cheetos—“regional flair,” Matty says—help differentiate the locallyowned<br />

shop from the fast-food chains lining Cleveland’s main drag<br />

half a mile away.<br />

Delta Dairy also serves up a green-and-white twist cone in late<br />

August to welcome students at nearby Delta State University, where<br />

the school colors are green and white, and the unofficial mascot is<br />

the Fighting Okra. But the local touch only goes so far: The green<br />

coloring masks vanilla, not veggie, yogurt.<br />

Suzette and Matty moved to the Delta to join the corps—Suzette<br />

from rural Texas, Matty from New York City. They met and<br />

fell in love—both with each other and with the town of Cleveland,<br />

population 12,000, and recently named by Smithsonian magazine as<br />

America’s second-best small town for travelers. They decided to stay.<br />

Matty had long entertained the idea of opening a business, and<br />

Suzette had more than once wished for a frosty fro-yo in the land of<br />

fast-food soft-serve. They imagined a gathering place for anyone in<br />

the community—kids, teachers, college students, lifelong residents.<br />

“The biggest need was for someplace to go after school, or after<br />

dinner, or on a Sunday afternoon. The space is just as important as<br />

the product,” Suzette says.<br />

They researched chain operations, but chains’ exorbitant upfront<br />

costs led them to go it alone. They visited every frozen-yogurt shop<br />

in a five-hour radius; they studied soft-serve machines; they even<br />

attended “yogology” training four hours away in Russellville, Ark.<br />

The yogologists “gave us these really interesting facts about<br />

people who like yogurt,” Matty says. “Only 10 percent of your yogurt<br />

population likes the tart kind—those are the real yogurt fanatics.” In<br />

fact, the majority of Delta Dairy’s patrons don’t call it yogurt at all.<br />

“They call it ice cream,” Matty says.<br />

Longtime Cleveland resident Homer Sledge, Jr., comes in almost<br />

every Sunday. His father founded the Nehi Bottling Company in 1927<br />

to provide soda pop for the people of Cleveland, and Homer and<br />

his son continue the business today. Each week, Suzette and Matty<br />

Matty Bengloff and Suzette Matthews opened Delta Dairy in what had been an<br />

empty storefront. “The town is going through a kind of rebirth,” Matthews says.<br />

relish his business advice. “They’ve owned a business for so long,<br />

they know all of the joys and the woes,” Matty says.<br />

Sledge is one of many regular customers, from kids whose eyes<br />

pop at the lineup of toppings to college students on a study break<br />

and native Clevelandites on a downtown stroll. “We’re really proud<br />

of how diverse our customer base is,” Suzette says. “The Delta can<br />

still be really segregated, and we have people from all over town. No<br />

matter who you are, we welcome you.” <br />

in the news<br />

“It is time to admit<br />

that the SAT and ACT<br />

have become far too<br />

disconnected from the<br />

work of our high schools.”<br />

David Coleman, president of the College Board,<br />

announcing on March 5, 2014, an overhaul of the<br />

SAT college entrance exam<br />

fyi<br />

In 2002, Congress passed the No Child Left<br />

Behind Act, adopting an ambitious plan to<br />

reach 100 percent student proficiency by 2014.<br />

Twelve years later, that remains a distant goal.<br />

The law is in political limbo—it expired in 2007,<br />

but its mandates carry over until Congress<br />

passes a replacement. Federal funding for its<br />

major components has plateaued at about<br />

$20 billion per year, roughly half of what<br />

the government originally authorized. And<br />

despite incremental improvements across the<br />

board, proficiency rates—especially for lowincome<br />

children—continue to lag.<br />

pulse check on nclb<br />

Low income students at or above proficient<br />

All students at or above proficient<br />

4th grade math<br />

2003<br />

2003<br />

2003<br />

15%<br />

32%<br />

8th grade math<br />

2003<br />

12%<br />

29%<br />

15%<br />

31%<br />

16%<br />

32%<br />

2013<br />

2013<br />

4th grade reading<br />

2013<br />

8th grade reading<br />

2013<br />

25%<br />

42%<br />

20%<br />

35%<br />

20%<br />

35%<br />

20%<br />

36%<br />

The above proficiency figures were determined by the National Assessment<br />

of Educational Progress. Each state also uses a unique assessment, and<br />

results of these assessments are not comparable.<br />

Tommy Rappold, Post-Bac Pre-Med<br />

From Computer Information Systems to Medicine.<br />

Wanted to Make a Difference.<br />

Attending Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.<br />

Join Us<br />

Become a part of a community of college graduates<br />

who chose UVa to prepare for a career in medicine.<br />

Our faculty and staff will work closely with you to<br />

maximize your chances for success as a premed<br />

student and medical school applicant.<br />

Complete prerequisites for medical school in just 12 months<br />

in our intensive, full-time Post-Bac Pre-Med Program.<br />

• Superior instruction in the University of Virginia tradition of<br />

excellence<br />

• Sections of general and organic chemistry, and physics just for<br />

PBPM students<br />

• Small class size of 35-40 students ensures one-on-one pre-med<br />

and program advisement<br />

• 360-degree support from faculty and staff that builds a close-knit<br />

cohort community<br />

• Shadowing & volunteer experiences in clinical settings<br />

• MCAT preparation<br />

• Assistance with glide year opportunities<br />

• Guidance throughout the medical school admission process<br />

• A 94% acceptance rate to medical school<br />

Applications are accepted from August 15 to February 15.<br />

Read Tommy’s story and learn more about our program at<br />

www.scps.virginia.edu/TFA<br />

270-HS-TFA-mag<br />

22 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 23


do now<br />

do now<br />

media<br />

rethinking malcolm x<br />

Saladin Ambar (N.Y. ’90) uncovers a brilliant lost speech<br />

By Leah Fabel (Chicago ’01)<br />

In 2009, Saladin Ambar (N.Y.<br />

I<br />

’90) was a first-year political<br />

science professor at Lehigh<br />

University teaching a course<br />

on black political thought. While preparing<br />

the portion on black nationalism, he read a<br />

little-known speech delivered by Malcolm X<br />

in December 1964 at the Oxford Union, the<br />

prestigious debating society at Oxford University.<br />

In it, the civil rights leader defended a<br />

statement by defeated presidential candidate<br />

Barry Goldwater: “Extremism in the defense<br />

of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit<br />

of justice is no virtue.” Ambar recognized the<br />

speech as an undiscovered gem of the era—<br />

both rhetorically brilliant and revelatory of a<br />

Malcolm X no less radical than his younger<br />

self but far more nuanced in his understanding<br />

of race relations and power dynamics in<br />

the United States and abroad. Ambar, who<br />

taught high school history for 17 years in New<br />

York City and Princeton, N.J., before earning<br />

his Ph.D. from Rutgers University, proceeded<br />

to immerse himself in Malcolm X’s diaries<br />

and travelogues, interview his contemporaries,<br />

and trace his steps from Harlem to<br />

Paris to Oxford. In January, he published<br />

the sum of his efforts: Malcolm X at Oxford<br />

Union: Racial Politics in a Global Era.<br />

Over the course of researching and<br />

writing this book, what was the most<br />

significant shift in your understanding<br />

of Malcolm X? As a younger man, there<br />

was a sort of bias I had toward the early<br />

and more radical career of Malcolm X—the<br />

Malcolm without the beard, a member of the<br />

Nation of Islam, fiery, certainly radical, and<br />

in many ways more off-putting to whites. In<br />

some senses, that earlier Malcolm has been<br />

identified as the “true” Malcolm—and as<br />

a teenager and in my early 20s, I held that<br />

view. My research led me to conclude that<br />

the Malcolm at Oxford was certainly no less<br />

“true” than the earlier Malcolm, but someone<br />

whose thoughts had matured, who was very<br />

sophisticated in his understanding of the<br />

complexity of human nature. The Malcolm at<br />

Oxford, I think, is in many ways more heroic<br />

than the earlier figure I’d confronted, because<br />

he was open to change, and open to seeing<br />

the world in a more complicated way.<br />

In his speech, Malcolm X spoke<br />

about schools as an example of an<br />

injustice perpetrated by whites on<br />

African Americans. Is there any way<br />

to guess what he’d think of the<br />

school reform movement today? My<br />

guess is he would’ve put “empowerment”<br />

at the forefront of any understanding of<br />

reform—the idea that black folks needed to<br />

be strong participants in changing their own<br />

local school conditions. I think he would’ve<br />

asked what role African Americans are<br />

taking in their own local achievement and<br />

administration, and what are the resources<br />

being allocated to their schools—public<br />

or otherwise. He certainly understood that<br />

the public school system had failed African<br />

Americans, and him personally, and he no<br />

doubt would’ve chastised much of current<br />

education policy—and more than anything,<br />

the still-deplorable state of many schools.<br />

You suggest that by the time of the<br />

Oxford speech, his ideas about race<br />

and power had been significantly<br />

complicated. In what direction was<br />

he moving? His trip to Mecca [in 1964],<br />

and more broadly his trip to the Middle East,<br />

changed that binary of black-white that he<br />

had as an American. When he met Algerian<br />

revolutionaries who were what most people<br />

would define as white, it really floored him,<br />

because the ideology of black nationalism<br />

really had no place for a white revolutionary.<br />

He had to step back and see that for what it<br />

was. And I think he also understood that there<br />

was truly a class dimension to the nature of<br />

struggle worldwide—that global capitalism<br />

presented its own host of challenges, and<br />

that race alone as a window to these problems<br />

was not going to be sufficient. He wrote<br />

in his diary, in so many words, that black<br />

nationalism is insufficient.<br />

Having said that, I think one of the<br />

contributions of the book is that it suggests<br />

that Malcolm X didn’t, and perhaps we<br />

shouldn’t, abide an all-too-easy postracial<br />

view of the world, given that so many of the<br />

conditions that concerned Malcolm about<br />

the lives of people of color in America<br />

and around the world are still with us. He<br />

certainly understood that these conditions<br />

were very much tied to race, but that there<br />

were more elements to the problem than<br />

race alone.<br />

You write that Malcolm X’s foundational<br />

ethic “requires revolutionary justice<br />

to flow from the people upward.”<br />

What were some other tenets of his<br />

radical philosophy? I think, first and<br />

foremost, being honest with yourself, and being<br />

honest about the nature of political struggle.<br />

If there’s anything that made—and I think<br />

makes—Malcolm X such a powerful figure, it’s<br />

that there was nothing in the way of sugarcoating,<br />

nothing in the way of some kind of<br />

palliative to present the world other than what<br />

it was. People crave authentic leaders today—<br />

they really desire someone to be completely<br />

honest, to use language that is unfettered<br />

and apolitical.<br />

What do you most wish you could ask<br />

him? I think more than ask him anything, I<br />

would wish to thank him. I have to say, especially<br />

when I was in Oxford, there’s a bit of<br />

survivor’s guilt. In Oxford, I purposely stayed<br />

in the same hotel where he stayed—the Randolph<br />

Hotel. And as I walked its corridors, I<br />

Notes from the Journey Westward | White Pine Press<br />

Joe Wilkins (Delta ’02) opens Notes from the Journey Westward, his second published collection of poetry, with an<br />

epigraph from Bob Dylan’s 1975 album Blood on the Tracks: “We drove that car as far as we could, abandoned it out<br />

west.” Like Dylan in the mid-70s, Wilkins, a writing professor at Linfield College in Oregon, writes about landscapes,<br />

drifters, highways, and other folk-music themes from a perspective that is intimate but clear-eyed—Americana<br />

stripped of sentimentality. The 50-plus poems in Notes are not linked by narrative—some, like the title poem, are set in<br />

pioneering times while others (“Now That It Has Been Many Years, and I Have Moved Far from Mississippi”) seem more<br />

autobiographical. But they share Wilkins’ gifts for clipped imagery (“think how your hands, watching your father as a boy,<br />

hung useless as bright wings”) and striking phrasing (“Blink and cry but this earth is all/you’ll ever see.”).<br />

Ghetto Images in Twentieth-Century American Literature | Palgrave Macmillan<br />

Tyrone Simpson’s (L.A. ’91) Ghetto Images in Twentieth-Century American Literature explores how six American<br />

novelists have depicted the effects of urban segregation over the past 80 years. The “ghetto,” Simpson argues, is<br />

not merely a consequence of racial tension and urban decay; it is a construct that actively fuels discrimination and<br />

limits opportunity. Simpson focuses each chapter on a specific author and text—from Anzia Yezierska’s Bread Givers<br />

to John Edgar Wideman’s Two Cities—ultimately tracing how six very different writers interpreted the “ghettoization”<br />

of the 20th-century American Rust Belt. Simpson is an associate professor of English, urban studies, Africana<br />

studies, and American culture at Vassar College.<br />

Kids in the Kitchen: Simple Recipes That Build Independence and Confidence<br />

in the Montessori Way | CreateSpace Independent Publishing<br />

Parents, put down your knives. Now, give them to your toddlers. Okay, okay—not a sharp knife—but you’ve got the<br />

idea, according to Kids in the Kitchen: Simple Recipes that Build Independence and Confidence in the Montessori Way, coauthored<br />

by Sara Cotner (S. Louisiana ’00). “Even the youngest child can work in the kitchen with the right guidance,”<br />

writes Cotner, founder of Montessori For All, a nonprofit working to open and lead public Montessori schools in<br />

diverse communities. Kids in the Kitchen offers simple recipes and helpful tips, like advice for setting up kid-friendly<br />

kitchens (keep toddlers’ utensils in a low cupboard, for example, and keep healthy snacks on the lower shelves of the<br />

fridge). Recipes range from tzatziki dip to banana and strawberry muffins, and detailed pictures accompany each step.<br />

A Priceless Wedding: Crafting a Meaningful, Memorable, and<br />

Affordable Celebration | Voyageur Press<br />

was thinking that when he was walking those<br />

corridors, when he walked up those very old<br />

steps of that beautiful hotel, he was thinking<br />

of security. He was thinking, “I might not<br />

make it down to the lobby. I could be shot<br />

at any moment.” He was fearing for his life.<br />

In many ways, the life I have, and the life so<br />

many middle-class African Americans have,<br />

is possible because of him and other leaders<br />

of his time. I have to say I felt a deep sense of<br />

gratitude for him, and a sense of sadness that<br />

I couldn’t thank him personally. <br />

Cotner is also the author of A Priceless Wedding: Crafting a Meaningful, Memorable, and Affordable Celebration, which<br />

encourages couples to resist the pressures of the “wedding industrial complex” by planning the “vision-first” wedding<br />

that best suits them, with tips like adopting a wedding “mantra” (e.g. “Our marriage is more important than the<br />

wedding.”) and using a worksheet to decide whether to “retain, revise, reject, or reinvent” the more traditional elements<br />

of a wedding. “There’s so much cultural baggage about what makes a wedding a real wedding,” Cotner writes. “This<br />

book focuses on how to reclaim the real purpose of a wedding: community, connection, commitment, and fun.”<br />

24 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 25


do now<br />

do now<br />

unprecedented gains<br />

By Leah Fabel (Chicago ’01)<br />

E<br />

ducators, parents,<br />

and students in<br />

Tennessee and Washington,<br />

D.C., have reason to be proud:<br />

2013 results of the biennial<br />

National Assessment of<br />

Educational Progress showed<br />

their students’ growth to be<br />

greater than anywhere else in<br />

the country.<br />

KEVIN<br />

HUFFMAN<br />

(hOUSTON ’92)<br />

Q: What drove the gains?<br />

A: Ultimately, we believe it’s two<br />

things: higher standards for our<br />

kids, and higher standards for the<br />

adults working in the system.<br />

Q: Once you gathered the overall positive<br />

results, where did you focus more in-depth?<br />

A: For us, it was looking at the different subgroups, and the<br />

places where we’re making significant progress and lesssignificant<br />

progress. Does that line up with what we’re seeing on<br />

other assessments? Do we have a plan of attack for making sure<br />

we’re improving everywhere? The other piece is about making<br />

sure we have strategies in place to continue improving at a fast<br />

pace. We moved from the 40s in national rankings to the 30s.<br />

And not only that: The two states (D.C. is considered a state for<br />

the purposes of national testing) showed the greatest-ever growth<br />

over a single testing cycle. The test also compares progress across<br />

a sample of 21 urban districts, including D.C. Public Schools, which<br />

educates about 56 percent of the city’s public school students. In<br />

every grade and subject, DCPS students showed greater growth<br />

than any other tested district.<br />

Outcomes are hardly where they need to be—overall, D.C. still<br />

lingers near the bottom compared with other large cities nationwide,<br />

and Tennessee’s results place it in the lower-middle compared<br />

to all states. But the trend lines show promise.<br />

More than 1,000 alumni contributed to the results—teachers,<br />

parents, school leaders, and system leaders. Kevin Huffman<br />

(Houston ’92) has been Tennessee’s state education commissioner<br />

since 2011, and Kaya Henderson (N.Y. ’92) has led DCPS since<br />

2010, after taking the reins from Michelle Rhee (Baltimore ’92).<br />

Kathy Hollowell-Makle (D.C. Region ’98) is the 2013 DCPS<br />

Teacher of the Year and a 16-year district veteran. “We’re<br />

absolutely moving in the right direction,” she says. “I see a great<br />

sense of pride in the work teachers are doing, and that relates<br />

directly to student progress.”<br />

That’s great progress, but none of us wakes up and comes into<br />

work thinking we want to be 35th in the nation in education.<br />

Q: When the results are broken down by<br />

student groups, many of the same gaps show<br />

up that have plagued schools for years.<br />

How does that play into your strategy<br />

moving forward?<br />

A: For our students with disabilities and our English language<br />

learners, what we saw on NAEP mirrors what we’ve seen already<br />

on our state assessments. Those are areas of focus for us, and<br />

the NAEP scores reinforced the strategies that we have in place.<br />

If we come back in two years and those students still have not<br />

made strides, then I’ll be scratching my head. One thing we’re<br />

proud of is that we significantly increased the number of students<br />

with disabilities who took the NAEP. Previously, Tennessee<br />

excluded a huge portion of students with disabilities—they were<br />

excluded on some tests at rates of 40 to 50 percent. We cut that<br />

in half, and we know there’s still room to grow.<br />

Q: NAEP doesn’t measure the inputs that<br />

drive student outcomes. Can you say with<br />

any certainty that the reforms you’ve<br />

implemented have made a difference?<br />

A: That’s technically true. But at the same time, I would say it’s<br />

not accidental that Tennessee and D.C. are implementing many<br />

of the same reforms on the same timeline with the same fidelity—and<br />

to see that, it is perfectly reasonable to hypothesize<br />

that those are in fact drivers of results and those are things that<br />

other states might reasonably want to emulate. There are a lot of<br />

people who don’t like what those drivers are, and therefore are<br />

very resistant. But to put it simply, I don’t think it’s accidental<br />

that Tennessee and D.C. had the largest gains in the country.<br />

KAYA<br />

HENDERSON<br />

(N.Y. ’92)<br />

Q: What’s driving<br />

the gains?<br />

A: First, I think it’s the attention<br />

we’ve paid to people quality—the<br />

quality of our teachers, our school<br />

leaders, our support staff, our central office staff. Then, three years<br />

ago, we created an academic plan to change the teaching and<br />

learning happening in the classroom. Getting great people is only<br />

part of the solution—giving them the tools and resources they need<br />

to succeed is the other part.<br />

Q: When DCPS’s scores are broken down into<br />

student groups, the gap between white,<br />

mostly higher-income kids and lower-income<br />

students of color is actually growing in<br />

places. How can you address that?<br />

A: One thing we know for sure is that the population of D.C. has<br />

one of the largest gaps in the country regarding race and economics,<br />

so some of this is simply the reality of the kids in our classrooms.<br />

Clearly, we’re growing our white kids at a pace that’s good<br />

for them, and we have to be experts at catching up many kids who<br />

come to us already behind, and actually accelerating them. It’s<br />

STATE RESULTS<br />

4th grade<br />

math growth<br />

1 Tennessee<br />

2 Washington, D.C.<br />

(district and charters)<br />

3 Arizona<br />

4 Indiana<br />

5 Hawai‘i<br />

4th grade<br />

reading growth<br />

1 Tennessee<br />

2 Washington, D.C.<br />

(district and charters)<br />

3 Minnesota<br />

4 Indiana<br />

5 Washington (state)<br />

literally about taking kids and moving them multiple grade levels<br />

in one year, and that’s what we have to get good at. Here’s the<br />

challenge for DCPS: We have to innovate to catch up. But at the<br />

same time, we have to go beyond. Because even if we catch up to<br />

where everyone else is, that’s not good enough.<br />

Q: Teach For America has been operating in<br />

D.C. since 1992, and more than 2,000 alumni live<br />

in the region. Do you see the organization in<br />

any way relevant to these results?<br />

A: We have corps members and alumni in our classrooms; four of<br />

the seven people on my leadership team are alumni; we have an<br />

astounding number of alums in the central office; a number of our<br />

principals are alums; some of my instructional superintendents<br />

are alums. If I look at the statewide results, many of the charter<br />

leaders are alums, and many charter teachers are alumni or corps<br />

members. Teach For America has changed the talent pool in the<br />

city—and it can share in the statewide victory with us because<br />

it’s people who have delivered these results, and many of those<br />

people are Teach For America alumni.<br />

Q: What do you make of many in the media’s<br />

temptation to throw cold water on positive<br />

results?<br />

A: You know, sometimes I want to say, ‘Tell me what I<br />

should be doing. Should I pooh-pooh these completely<br />

outsized gains because we’re not yet where we need to<br />

be? Or do I recognize that with a whole lot of work, people<br />

have moved us from an F- to a D or a D+?’ No, we’re not<br />

at an A yet, but you don’t get to an A by staying in the F pile.<br />

If we only celebrated goal attainment, that would be antithetical<br />

to what we tell our kids. How do you get to where you’re<br />

going? Through steady progress. Not incremental progress,<br />

but radical progress. And that’s what we’re bringing to D.C.<br />

Public Schools. People who have thrived on DCPS’s<br />

dysfunction are very, very upset that we’re actually making<br />

progress. But we’re gonna keep on bringing progress,<br />

we’re gonna keep on bringing change, we’re gonna keep<br />

on knocking it out for our kids, because that’s what<br />

they deserve. <br />

URBAN DISTRICT RESULTS<br />

8th grade<br />

math growth<br />

1 DCPS<br />

2 Charlotte<br />

3 Fresno<br />

4 Los Angeles<br />

5 Milwaukee<br />

8th grade<br />

reading growth<br />

1 DCPS<br />

2 Fresno<br />

3 Baltimore<br />

4 Milwaukee<br />

5 Los Angeles<br />

26 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 27


SOMETHING<br />

SPECIAL<br />

By Ting yu (N.Y. ’03)<br />

Photographs by Michael Schwarz<br />

Special education was conceived to meet the unique<br />

learning needs of students like Latisha Justice. But is<br />

the system empowering or oppressing its students?<br />

“Since I have an IEP, it follows me,” says Latisha Justice,<br />

16, at Tri-Cities High School in Atlanta. “People make fun<br />

of me. Sometimes I feel like I can’t breathe.”<br />

Latisha Justice bounces in her chair, feet tapping the ground.<br />

Justice is slight and jittery—not unlike the subatomic particle<br />

she is studying at the moment. “How many electrons give you<br />

a full valence?” asks her teacher, Andrew Fuller (Metro Atlanta<br />

’12). Justice and the four other 10th graders in Fuller’s physical<br />

science class at Tri-Cities High School in Atlanta are poring over<br />

laminated periodic tables, filling out charts of atomic mass, protons, and<br />

neutrons for various elements. Vivacious with a wide smile, Justice keeps<br />

up a near-constant chatter as she taps her calculator and writes down the<br />

answers. When she raises her hand to share, she answers correctly. But<br />

when Fuller praises her and asks her to state the element’s name, she<br />

hesitates then reads chlorine aloud as “Tyrone.” Her classmates erupt<br />

into laughter, and Justice turns quiet for the first time that morning.<br />

28 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 29


“When I first came to this school, I got bullied<br />

and teased. People make fun of me because I’m<br />

in small-group classes. They say, ‘She’s dumb.<br />

She’s the retarded girl.’ I feel sad like, why are<br />

you all doing this to me?”<br />

“I like literature, even though that’s the main struggle I have,” Justice says. “I like to read stories about real people with problems and how they can help themselves be better.”<br />

ative,” Justice says. “My reading just…<br />

stops me.”<br />

Justice’s IEP states that she has a<br />

“specific learning disability,” a term<br />

that belies remarkable ambiguity. SLD<br />

is the most common referral category for<br />

students who receive special education<br />

services. Nationwide, 41 percent of students<br />

with IEPs have this designation<br />

which includes disability categories,<br />

ranging from dyslexia to developmental<br />

aphasia to brain injury. It’s defined<br />

as an imperfect ability to listen, think,<br />

speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical<br />

calculation.<br />

“Practically every kid has SLD on<br />

their IEPs. It makes no sense,” Fuller<br />

says. “There’s no time or effort or individualized<br />

planning dedicated to solving<br />

problems for each child. It’s so frustrating.<br />

Why has no one ever stopped to<br />

Justice, 16, has struggled with reading<br />

since first grade when she was held<br />

back at the teacher’s recommendation.<br />

Her mother, Keeshan, says Latisha was<br />

evaluated in third grade and received<br />

her first Individualized Education Program<br />

(IEP), a tailored instructional<br />

framework for each child who receives<br />

special education services.<br />

Since then, Justice has been educated<br />

in both co-taught inclusive classrooms<br />

(a general education classroom with two<br />

teachers, one a special educator) as well<br />

as small-group settings like Fuller’s science<br />

class. She says her main problem<br />

is comprehension, but it’s clear that<br />

even decoding the words themselves can<br />

be confounding to her. Since reading<br />

affects one’s ability to access material in<br />

every class, her frustration has seeped<br />

into all of her coursework. “I’m very cresay,<br />

‘Why can’t Latisha read?’ ”<br />

Teachers, he says, are essentially<br />

left on their own to identify underlying<br />

issues and come up with strategies to<br />

address them—often with students<br />

who are profoundly behind. “We’re in<br />

10th grade, and Latisha’s reading at<br />

a third grade level. I have kids who<br />

can’t read at all,” he says. “I’m teaching<br />

them sight words. I have a whole<br />

box of flashcards in my room. I’m in a<br />

position where I’m trying to figure out:<br />

Do I stop teaching science and teach<br />

the kids who can’t read? Then what<br />

about my kids who need to learn science<br />

to be successful in college? With<br />

some of my kids, we need to go back to<br />

the foundations of math and reading.<br />

We can’t start with how to balance a<br />

chemical equation when you can’t add<br />

five plus five.”<br />

Justice receives accommodations such<br />

as having extended time to finish work<br />

and getting her tests read to her but can’t<br />

name any strategies she has been taught<br />

to address her reading issue. “The teachers<br />

just say, ‘Keep on trying,’ but they<br />

don’t help. Or when I ask questions, they<br />

say I’m complaining too much and to just<br />

sit and wait. That’s when I feel anxiety.<br />

They look at me like, ‘Why are you having<br />

this problem?’ And I’m like, because<br />

I have this issue that I’m trying to overcome<br />

and y’all are not helping me, just<br />

making more pressure on me.”<br />

As dictated by her IEP, Justice<br />

takes all of her core subjects—math, literacy,<br />

science, and social studies—in<br />

small-group settings. The only time she<br />

interacts with general education peers is<br />

during electives like business and Spanish.<br />

Justice likes having more one-on-one<br />

time with teachers and fewer distractions,<br />

but says the social stigma of being<br />

in a special education class can be<br />

unbearable. “When I first came to this<br />

school, I got bullied and teased,” she<br />

says. “People make fun of me because I’m<br />

in small-group classes. They say, ‘She’s<br />

dumb. She’s the retarded girl.’ I feel sad<br />

like, why are you all doing this to me?”<br />

In Fuller’s class, she has found a<br />

haven. “He’s fun, but he’s serious,” she<br />

says. “I know a lot about science now—<br />

stuff I didn’t think I’d know. He can get<br />

on people’s nerves because he makes<br />

everything hard for us, but we come out<br />

of his classroom knowing stuff. He’s the<br />

only teacher who can teach and it stays<br />

in our heads.”<br />

Fuller says a bright student like<br />

Justice could excel in a general education<br />

classroom given the right supports.<br />

He’s pushing for a clearer diagnosis of<br />

her reading disability and believes she<br />

needs more individual assistance.<br />

Yet he’s disheartened by what he<br />

sees as a deeply embedded culture of<br />

low expectations that permeates special<br />

education programs in low-income<br />

communities, where students who don’t<br />

meet academic standards are routinely<br />

promoted. Rather than seeing special<br />

education as a way of differentiating for<br />

kids who learn differently, Fuller says,<br />

“it becomes a place to keep kids quiet, so<br />

we can teach other kids.”<br />

Breaking the silence<br />

For all of its flaws, No Child Left<br />

Behind got one thing powerfully right:<br />

It shined a light on huge disparities in<br />

student achievement that had long been<br />

obscured by school-level performance<br />

data. Suddenly marginalized groups<br />

such as low-income students of color and<br />

students with disabilities surfaced as<br />

urgent priorities.<br />

The new data galvanized reformers<br />

and helped them fashion a powerful<br />

narrative about the influence of race<br />

and class on educational equity in the<br />

United States—a narrative that has<br />

largely succeeded in raising the profile<br />

of students in low-income communities.<br />

So why, more than a decade later—and<br />

despite persistently terrible academic<br />

outcomes—do children with disabilities<br />

garner little more than a whisper in the<br />

education reform conversation?<br />

The world of special education is labyrinthine<br />

and, in many ways, esoteric<br />

to the general public, which has limited<br />

awareness of students with disabilities<br />

and their challenges. With its tangle of<br />

laws and regulations, segregated placements,<br />

and unfamiliar diagnoses, special<br />

education can seem somehow separate<br />

and detached from the way “our<br />

kids” are taught.<br />

Johannah Chase (N.Y. ’05), the chief<br />

operating officer for special education for<br />

the New York Department of Education,<br />

says the lack of urgency and action on<br />

behalf of children with disabilities won’t<br />

change until reformers come to see that<br />

the fight for these students’ rights is in<br />

every way the fight for all students. “We<br />

have to break the assumption that special<br />

ed is ‘other.’ There’s not a bifurcated<br />

special-ed-versus-general-ed world,” she<br />

says. “Special ed isn’t for those kids over<br />

there who have some type of need so<br />

extreme we can’t possibly expect your<br />

average teacher to meet their needs.<br />

30 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 31


“I have a vendetta against making work easy,” says Andrew Fuller (right), who was taught in a restrictive<br />

special education setting from 1st through 12th grade and could “barely read” when he graduated.<br />

That’s deeply problematic, not only for<br />

kids with disabilities, but it’s the wrong<br />

approach for public education. When you<br />

focus on kids with the most challenges,<br />

you figure out solutions that are applicable<br />

to everyone. This is really about<br />

figuring out how to leverage the world of<br />

special education for all kids.”<br />

Oppression or empowerment?<br />

As recently as the early 1970s, 80 percent<br />

of American children with disabilities—roughly<br />

1.75 million children—<br />

had no protected right or access to a<br />

public education. Nearly 200,000 people<br />

with disabilities were institutionalized,<br />

many of them children. Those who were<br />

educated were schooled at home or at<br />

private facilities.<br />

Special education advocates speak<br />

passionately about the movement for<br />

“ability rights,” marking as a key turning<br />

point the Education for All Handicapped<br />

Children Act—now known as the Individuals<br />

with Disabilities Education<br />

Act—passed in 1975. IDEA mandates<br />

that all schools receiving federal funds<br />

provide students with disabilities with<br />

“a free and appropriate education” in the<br />

“least restrictive environment.”<br />

Despite progress, there are deeply<br />

troubling trends that point to a separate<br />

and unequal reality for the 6.3 million<br />

students in the United States who currently<br />

have IEPs. Nationwide, these students<br />

are vastly underperforming their<br />

peers in general education.<br />

A recent report from the U.S. Department<br />

of Education reveals huge gaps in<br />

state graduation rates between students<br />

with disabilities and their nondisabled<br />

peers. The 2013 National Assessment of<br />

Educational Progress shows that nearly<br />

70 percent of fourth graders with disabilities<br />

scored “below basic proficiency”—the<br />

lowest designation—in reading,<br />

with only 11 percent scoring proficient<br />

or advanced. (That’s compared with 27<br />

percent and 38 percent, respectively, for<br />

nondisabled students.) This despite the<br />

fact that the majority of students with<br />

IEPs do not have disabilities that would<br />

prevent them from achieving at grade<br />

level, if given the appropriate supports.<br />

“Millions of children with disabilities<br />

are getting an abysmal education,” says<br />

Dr. Douglas Fuchs, a leading researcher<br />

and chair of the special education<br />

department at Vanderbilt University.<br />

“Gross underachievement is a fact, and<br />

it can’t be explained by the disability.<br />

The degree to which these students are<br />

behind begs for a real explanation.”<br />

Many special educators believe that<br />

strict federal enforcement of IDEA<br />

regulations—but little emphasis on<br />

achievement—has bred a misguided obsession<br />

with access and compliance with<br />

no accountability for achievement. Too<br />

often IEPs “are done poorly and not for<br />

the right reasons,” Fuchs says. “They’re<br />

treated by educators as a legal document<br />

instead of as an educational document<br />

that is essential to the current and longterm<br />

future of the child.”<br />

Both Mississippi and South Carolina,<br />

for instance, earned top marks for meeting<br />

federal requirements for compliance<br />

last year, while posting appalling graduation<br />

results for students with disabilities.<br />

State-reported data showed that half<br />

of South Carolina’s students with disabilities<br />

drop out of school, and only 23<br />

percent of Mississippi students with<br />

IEPs earn diplomas—43 percentage<br />

points lower than the rate for nondisabled<br />

students.<br />

The U.S. Department of Education’s<br />

Office of Special Education Programs has<br />

announced plans to monitor more closely<br />

“performance indicators”—such as participation<br />

in state general assessments<br />

and graduation rates—for students with<br />

disabilities, to induce a shift toward “results-driven<br />

accountability.” States that<br />

report poorly on these measures may be<br />

subject to improvement plans or loss of<br />

funding, but OSEP says the use of statelevel<br />

assessment results likely won’t<br />

happen for another five years.<br />

Another serious concern, Fuchs says,<br />

is that too few teachers possess specialized<br />

knowledge of how disabilities<br />

affect learning and how to differentiate<br />

instruction in a meaningful way. IDEA<br />

recognizes 14 categories of disability that<br />

encompass a huge range of diagnoses.<br />

Because disabilities manifest differently<br />

for each child, figuring out the most effective<br />

intervention can be like detective<br />

work. Charters are often criticized for<br />

relying too heavily on inclusion models<br />

and contracting outside specialists who<br />

don’t know the students as well, because<br />

they lack the funding and resources to<br />

provide such services in house.<br />

“Students need teachers who are<br />

skilled in the art and science of assessing<br />

and differentiating at a highly individual<br />

level and who also possess technical<br />

knowledge,” Fuchs says. “We no longer<br />

have teachers who become masters of six<br />

different ways of teaching reading and<br />

four different ways of teaching math.<br />

Special educators today are trained to<br />

co-teach. In many places, they’re glorified<br />

aides to the general education<br />

teacher. A very large number of students<br />

with disabilities require an intensity of<br />

instruction that simply is not provided<br />

in the majority of special ed classrooms.”<br />

Philippe Ernewein (G.N.O ’94) is the<br />

director of education at Denver Academy,<br />

an independent private school in<br />

Colorado for children with learning differences.<br />

DA has a long track record of<br />

student success, and last year sent 90<br />

percent of its students to two- or fouryear<br />

colleges. A 20-year veteran special<br />

educator, Ernewein says the school’s<br />

core philosophy is asset-based and one<br />

that honors individuality and multiple<br />

intelligences. Differentiation is key.<br />

“We have a curriculum. It has flexibility.<br />

It’s not uncommon for us to ask<br />

kids: ‘How are you smart?’ Let’s say<br />

you’re a graphic artist learning about<br />

literary devices like simile, alliteration,<br />

or metaphor. How would you show<br />

what you know? You might create a billboard,<br />

or a website, or a logo. We give<br />

students an opportunity to be creative<br />

and explore a different way of showing<br />

what they know.”<br />

DA’s website carefully avoids the<br />

term “disability,” and Ernewein concedes,<br />

“We don’t give that term a lot of<br />

currency here.” Students begin the year<br />

by taking Myers-Briggs and Strengths-<br />

Finder personality assessments. School<br />

staff is getting training on ideas in a<br />

book called The Dyslexic Advantage,<br />

which talks about the benefits of a dyslexic<br />

learning style. Ernewein says that<br />

tremendous gains are possible when students<br />

are educated in a way that inherently<br />

values their differences.<br />

Although DA enjoys resources most<br />

public schools don’t have, Ernewein says<br />

committing to asset-based differentiation<br />

costs nothing: “We have autonomy as<br />

leaders of our classrooms. You have control<br />

over how your content is delivered,<br />

what kind of process and interactivity<br />

your kids have with that content, and<br />

how they’re going to show you what they<br />

know. We have this idea that we’re going<br />

to do school the way it was done to us,<br />

and I think that’s a great injustice. Let’s<br />

challenge that pedagogy.”<br />

Dr. Thomas Hehir, a Harvard professor<br />

and former OSEP director under<br />

President Clinton, made the case for an<br />

asset-based approach to teaching in his<br />

seminal 2002 article “Eliminating Ableism.”<br />

In it, Hehir calls for applying the<br />

architectural principle of universal design—conceiving<br />

of buildings with the<br />

assumption that people with disabilities<br />

would use them—to special education.<br />

“We often try to retrofit the child with<br />

inappropriate interventions after they<br />

“It’s not uncommon for us to ask kids: ‘How are<br />

you smart?’ ” says Philippe Ernewein of his school’s<br />

asset-based approach to special education. “We give<br />

students an opportunity to be creative and explore a<br />

different way of showing what they know.”<br />

32 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 33


Why are so many<br />

black students in<br />

special ed?<br />

18<br />

students with<br />

%of disabilities are<br />

26 %<br />

of students<br />

identified as<br />

intellectually<br />

disabled<br />

are African<br />

American<br />

African American<br />

Research suggests that some of the overrepresentation<br />

of students of color in<br />

disability categories may be attributed to<br />

factors linked with poverty—poor nutrition,<br />

greater exposure to environmental toxins,<br />

physical or substance abuse. Health issues,<br />

especially prenatal ones, can play a<br />

role in future disabilities.<br />

But University of Miami professor Beth<br />

Harry says it’s telling that overrepresentation<br />

occurs only in categories such as<br />

emotional disturbance, mild intellectual<br />

disability, and specific learning disabilities—where<br />

identification is not based<br />

on a medical evaluation but a subjective<br />

process that may be swayed by a child’s<br />

behavior, race, and other factors.<br />

The evaluations themselves may be<br />

unreliable, Harry says. “I.Q. testing is<br />

known for having biases that are culturally<br />

and socioeconomically based. They don’t<br />

test your naked intelligence; they test what<br />

you’ve had the opportunity to learn.”<br />

Vanderbilt’s Douglas Fuchs cautions<br />

that poor academic performance may trigger<br />

inappropriate special education referrals.<br />

“Unfortunately, in a lot of low-income<br />

communities, there are poorly functioning<br />

schools. So you have kids with low performance<br />

who are not disabled but who are<br />

simply undereducated or not educated. If a<br />

child is doing poorly, and if the instruction<br />

is also poor, no one should be leaping to<br />

the conclusion that the kid has a disability.”<br />

have failed in school,” he wrote, “rather<br />

than design the program from the beginning<br />

to allow for access and success.”<br />

Ernewein and Hehir raise an interesting<br />

idea: What if special education<br />

programs—or even better, entire school<br />

systems—were designed from the get-go<br />

to be flexible, rigorous, and welcoming<br />

to a wide diversity of learners? What if<br />

children like Latisha Justice weren’t<br />

seen as burdens on a system that need to<br />

be “accommodated,” but rather individuals<br />

with a unique set of challenges and<br />

strengths deserving of respect?<br />

all teachers are special EDUCATORS<br />

Ryan Mick (G.N.O. ’09), who leads Teach<br />

For America’s national training and<br />

support for special education, says the<br />

organization is beginning to embrace the<br />

notion of universal design as it makes<br />

significant changes to its training and<br />

support of special education corps members.<br />

“Rather than thinking about our<br />

special educators as this discrete group<br />

of people, we should be thinking about all<br />

of our teachers as special educators and<br />

preparing them as such,” he says. “Our<br />

goal is to see people with disabilities as<br />

an integral part of our work and see disability<br />

as something we consider in all<br />

the choices we make. There is a privilege<br />

of silence we take when we don’t talk<br />

about those issues. It’s not okay for us<br />

to be silent on this anymore, and I think<br />

we’re on the cusp of changing that.”<br />

Nationwide, 1,300 corps members<br />

are placed in special education. Placement<br />

is driven by district needs and varies<br />

greatly. A few regions have no special<br />

education corps members, but in New<br />

York City, they make up a fifth of the<br />

region’s 1,200 corps members. Next year<br />

Los Angeles expects that nearly 60 percent<br />

of its incoming corps will be placed<br />

in special education.<br />

Critics complain that corps members<br />

lack adequate training to teach students<br />

with the most challenging needs. Dhathri<br />

Chunduru (Metro Atlanta ’08), who<br />

leads the team that supports Atlanta’s<br />

60 special education corps members, believes<br />

some of the criticisms are valid.<br />

Since the implementation of IDEA<br />

differs from state to state and district to<br />

district, historically much of Teach For<br />

America’s support has been regionally<br />

driven. Regions with a higher proportion<br />

of special education corps members<br />

tend to have multiple coaches on staff<br />

with specialized training, but regions<br />

with fewer such corps members often<br />

have no dedicated staff support in special<br />

education and are instead supported<br />

by general education coaches.<br />

For too long, Chunduru says, the<br />

organization relied on the rhetoric that<br />

special education was just an extension<br />

of good teaching. “It is good teaching, but<br />

there’s so much more,” she says. “We fall<br />

into the trap of thinking there’s a best<br />

practice for teaching a kid with a certain<br />

disability. What we need is specialized<br />

training on how to make sense of the<br />

manifestation of a disability. We need<br />

teachers who are able to analyze and<br />

problem solve.”<br />

In 2008, as part of an increased focus<br />

on differentiated support at institute,<br />

Teach For America hired its first special<br />

education curriculum designer. The<br />

team has been steadily building capacity<br />

since then.<br />

Chunduru has been encouraged<br />

by recent shifts in the organization’s<br />

stance toward special education. “Our<br />

discussion around diversity is changing<br />

to include ability—that gives me<br />

hope,” she says. More concretely, this<br />

summer four of the largest special education<br />

placement sites—New York, Los<br />

Angeles, Chicago, and Atlanta—will<br />

pilot institutes dedicated to teaching<br />

special education tenets and skills to<br />

corps members in both general and<br />

special education placements.<br />

In time, Teach For America’s “unique<br />

impact can be in special education,”<br />

Chunduru says. “I see our corps members<br />

doing incredible things every day.<br />

They’re mainstreaming kids and building<br />

knowledge with their parents about<br />

how to be a warrior for their children.<br />

I have principals and veteran educators<br />

saying that their expectation for what<br />

kids with disabilities can achieve has<br />

been radically blown out of the park.<br />

That’s the value we bring—making<br />

the world question their beliefs about<br />

what’s possible.”<br />

27 % “I always tell them, ‘You’re the best kids in the building,’ ” says Sheena Varghese (center, during a typical<br />

of students<br />

identified as<br />

emotionally<br />

disturbed are<br />

African American<br />

WHEN Success looks different<br />

The eighth graders in Sheena Varghese’s<br />

(Metro Atlanta ’11) classroom at Harper-<br />

Archer Middle School are not learning<br />

the Pythagorean theorem, analyzing<br />

themes in literature, or examining Georgia’s<br />

role in the American Revolution. In<br />

fact, her instruction does not resemble<br />

anything close to the learning objectives<br />

laid out in Georgia’s eighth grade<br />

standards. That’s because Varghese<br />

teaches students who have moderate intellectual<br />

disabilities (MOID). Students<br />

with MOID generally have I.Q.s ranging<br />

between 40 and 55 and make up just<br />

over 1 percent of the special education<br />

population.<br />

Varghese’s students likely will never<br />

attend college and some may never<br />

write their own names. Three of her<br />

eleven students are nonverbal. Yet,<br />

if anything, her sense of urgency as<br />

their teacher has only increased with<br />

this awareness. “Their instruction and<br />

education are no less critical to their<br />

quality of life and to giving them maximum<br />

independence so they can live the<br />

lives they want,” she says.<br />

Varghese was the only 2011 Atlanta<br />

corps member to teach in a self-contained<br />

classroom of students with significant<br />

disabilities. Since Georgia has no functional<br />

skills curriculum, Varghese read,<br />

researched, and talked extensively with<br />

veteran APS special educators at other<br />

schools to design units geared toward<br />

helping her students become as independent<br />

as they can be beyond school. “It’s<br />

left up to each teacher to decide what<br />

they’re going to do for the year,” she says.<br />

morning warm-up in February). “I love hanging out with them—they’re so much fun!”<br />

“It was a lot of trial and error.”<br />

Now in her third year of teaching,<br />

Varghese says her understanding of<br />

what her students need has evolved radically.<br />

“At first, I went into it with a very<br />

academic achievement focus—looking at<br />

grade-level standards and trying to pare<br />

them down to what might actually apply<br />

to my classroom—which is completely the<br />

wrong way to go about it. Over the years,<br />

I’ve realized that academics are a component<br />

of what my students need to learn,<br />

but the best outcome is based on so much<br />

more—all the different domains of independent<br />

living. So now I base what I do in<br />

my classroom off of those life skills.”<br />

When I enter Varghese’s room, the<br />

class is just settling into their chairs after<br />

a jubilant morning dance session to<br />

the thumping beat of Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite.”<br />

Seated at three round tables, the<br />

students gaze at the Promethean board<br />

where Varghese is displaying individual<br />

goals based on their IEPs on a slide<br />

titled “Path to Independence,” and praising<br />

each child’s progress on benchmarks<br />

like knowing a certain number of sight<br />

words, counting coins and mixed change,<br />

handwriting, and controlling impulses.<br />

Students receive points for mastering<br />

independent tasks such as tying<br />

one’s own shoes or eating breakfast unassisted,<br />

as well as for teamwork. “We<br />

prioritize teamwork as a character skill<br />

because their job is probably going to be<br />

working as part of a team,” Varghese<br />

says. She also tracks goals on the wall<br />

with highlighted bars to show them their<br />

own progress.<br />

“People don’t think my students need<br />

to know their goals,” Varghese says. “I<br />

think they do. People think that they<br />

can’t know them because they’re too<br />

low-functioning—like, ‘What’s the point?<br />

They’re not going to understand it.’ But<br />

they do understand. And they want to<br />

learn it if they understand why they<br />

need to learn it. It’s the same way you<br />

would teach any student in any setting;<br />

hitting the rationale helps motivate<br />

them. I don’t think most of them have<br />

had that opportunity before—having a<br />

depth of knowledge of what they’re doing<br />

and why it matters. And it works.”<br />

34 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 35


Varghese started a program at her school called<br />

Peer Advocates that brings mainstream students<br />

into her classroom as volunteers. Seeing her<br />

kids forge positive friendships with their nondisabled<br />

peers “gives me hope,” she says.<br />

Next Varghese plays a short clip of<br />

the local TV station’s weather report. She<br />

points out areas of the map and symbols<br />

that indicate different weather patterns,<br />

and the students discuss whether the<br />

temperature that day is hot or cold. The<br />

class discusses how they might dress for<br />

their trip on Friday to a local Publix grocery<br />

store where they’ll practice finding<br />

and purchasing items they’ve planned to<br />

buy in advance.<br />

Varghese takes her class on weekly<br />

neighborhood trips—a program called<br />

community-based instruction—to teach<br />

them practical daily living skills. She<br />

is the only middle school teacher in<br />

the district who does this, though Varghese<br />

says research shows CBI is a best<br />

practice that should begin in elementary<br />

school.<br />

Later they break into smaller groups.<br />

Varghese works with one group on clap-<br />

ping and counting the number of syllables<br />

in different words and documenting their<br />

progress. Two students work on computers<br />

completing sample job applications.<br />

The aide, Ms. Fox, takes a group of five to<br />

a side room to review flashcards of community<br />

signs such as walk, exit, danger,<br />

in case of fire use stairs, push, and pull.<br />

“I think there can be huge gains<br />

made,” Varghese says, but she acknowledges<br />

that progress for her students<br />

looks different from what her fellow<br />

corps members are striving for. “High<br />

expectations isn’t setting a bar that<br />

80 percent of my students pass a test,<br />

or demanding a set number of my students<br />

get to college,” she says. “It’s a<br />

daily thing for my students, not making<br />

too many allowances for them, pushing<br />

them to do things for themselves even<br />

when it’s hard.”<br />

Varghese’s toughest challenge is a<br />

13-year-old boy named Dionta (dee-ONtay)<br />

Rucker. Dionta knows 22 of the 26<br />

letters of the alphabet and attempts to<br />

articulate about 100 words. He has excellent<br />

phonemic awareness and can identify<br />

the starting consonant of most words.<br />

Because of a sensory perception issue,<br />

Dionta is prone to collapsing or falling<br />

off his chair when he hears a loud noise.<br />

Time is not a concept he understands.<br />

Dionta has a significant developmental<br />

delay. He didn’t speak at all until<br />

the third grade and now receives speech<br />

language therapy and physical therapy<br />

for gross motor skills. Varghese is<br />

teaching him sign language to help<br />

him communicate.<br />

She believes that with the right supports,<br />

Dionta will someday be able to live<br />

in a group home and hold a part-time<br />

job. (Some of her other students will<br />

be able to work full-time, live independently,<br />

and manage their finances with<br />

some assistance.) But getting there will<br />

require sustained, consistent, and highly<br />

individualized instruction that accounts<br />

for Dionta’s unique needs.<br />

Dionta “is very loving,” Varghese<br />

says. But with certain triggers, his behavior<br />

can escalate to unmanageable<br />

levels. “I’ve asked for nonviolent resistance<br />

training because I sometimes have<br />

to restrain him. He’ll punch other students<br />

in the face. He’ll kick you and bite<br />

you. He’s slapped me in the face.”<br />

“I’ve learned to engage with him<br />

when I know it’s right. Individual accommodations<br />

sometimes mean that he gets<br />

different treatment—he can do things<br />

some other kids can’t. It’s not lowering<br />

expectations but understanding who he<br />

is and how he is able to learn.”<br />

Varghese channels a lot of effort into<br />

convincing parents that independence is<br />

a worthwhile goal. Many of them expect<br />

their child to live with them indefinitely.<br />

“What you don’t want is them living<br />

at their parents’ houses for the<br />

rest of their lives,” Varghese says. “Because<br />

when their parents pass away<br />

and there’s no one willing to take care<br />

of them, they’ll go to a government-run<br />

institution,” where, she says, they can be<br />

susceptible to abuse or neglect. “That’s a<br />

big wake-up call for parents, but also a<br />

really hard conversation to have.”<br />

She also trains parents on how to become<br />

more effective advocates for their<br />

children. “If teachers aren’t teaching<br />

our parents in poverty, who have been<br />

stripped of so much voice in education, no<br />

one is going to teach it to them,” she says.<br />

“There’s a lot of finesse to getting what<br />

you want in special education. If you<br />

have legal representation, if you cite law<br />

in writing, you’re going to use far fewer<br />

words and make far fewer attempts to<br />

get what you want for your child.”<br />

That said, it grates on Varghese that<br />

special education teachers and parents<br />

have to fight so hard just to have their<br />

children valued in basic ways. During<br />

her first year teaching, Varghese<br />

says her principal never set foot in her<br />

room. The teacher she replaced used<br />

to watch soap operas during the day.<br />

“The jobs are hard to fill, so when you<br />

have someone in the job who is being<br />

kind to the students, that’s [considered]<br />

good enough.”<br />

“I’m trying to help my kids to want to live independently,” says Varghese (practicing life skills with Dionta<br />

during a trip to Walmart in March). “I’m trying to show them it’s okay to fail—you just have to keep trying.”<br />

Varghese says even in some of the<br />

integrated classes at her school, teachers<br />

write off students with disabilities. “I<br />

hear all the time, ‘I can’t teach that kid,’<br />

or ‘Take your kids over there,’ ” she says.<br />

“I’ve heard a teacher call a kid retarded<br />

in front of a whole class. How do you recover<br />

from that as a 12-year-old?”<br />

Beyond minimum compliance with<br />

the IEP process, Varghese says the district<br />

shows little interest in her students’<br />

progress. Her kids participate in the<br />

Georgia Alternate Assessment, a portfolio<br />

evaluation that Varghese says is less<br />

about her students than “about my ability<br />

to keep up with the paperwork and<br />

the hundreds of pages of documentation<br />

that I turn in in March.”<br />

Her desires are simple. “I want the<br />

state to recognize that these students<br />

are important enough to write a curriculum<br />

for them,” Varghese says. “That<br />

says something. You don’t even have a<br />

curriculum for them? You treat them<br />

disposably. They just push them along<br />

until they get institutionalized. You<br />

need a standardized expectation of what<br />

should be done in these classrooms and<br />

what can be accomplished. A lot of it<br />

is the mindset of what people actually<br />

think these kids can do.”<br />

That includes helping her students<br />

to see that what they can do is defined<br />

by their efforts, not their disability. “It’s<br />

about understanding that special education<br />

is a service—it’s not a label,” Varghese<br />

says. “My kids feel so much shame<br />

from the term special education. I tell<br />

them all the time: All this means is that<br />

you learn differently, and you need different<br />

things. When it’s approached like<br />

that, it can be very empowering.” <br />

Greenville, Mississippi<br />

Roads less traveled<br />

In the United States, 1.5 million students<br />

with disabilities live in rural areas, where<br />

geographic isolation and scarce resources<br />

can put extra pressure on already strained<br />

special education programs.<br />

Attracting special educators to rural<br />

regions and keeping them is difficult.<br />

“Often you’ll find general education<br />

teachers who were put into a special<br />

education room because [the school] had<br />

nobody else,” says Belva Collins, the chair<br />

of the Department of Special Education at<br />

the University of Kentucky.<br />

Such teachers may also have to teach<br />

students with a greater diversity of needs—<br />

from more common disabilities to the most<br />

severe ones. Therapists and specialists<br />

often are contracted to cover large<br />

geographic areas. And accessing services<br />

can be a real hardship for families. Collins<br />

knows a mother who grappled with sending<br />

her son on a three-hour bus ride to get<br />

services or keeping him home on the farm.<br />

Technology will play a vital role in the<br />

solution. The 2014 Farm Bill has earmarked<br />

$50 million over the next five years for<br />

the development of rural broadband,<br />

and some districts have begun providing<br />

supplementary services, such as speech<br />

pathology, via Skype. A handful of graduate<br />

programs are also pioneering virtual<br />

professional development for special<br />

educators. West Virginia University offers<br />

free online classes for teachers who agree<br />

to continue teaching special education for<br />

at least two years after completing the<br />

program. “Every year more people are<br />

connected,” says WVU’s Barbara Ludlow.<br />

And that “allows more rural areas to<br />

have access to specialized services.”<br />

Tim Kennedy (delta ’11)<br />

Photo by Elizabeth Lewis<br />

36 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 37


Before joining ReNEW, Liz Marcell’s (R.G.V. ’99) dissertation research focused on students with disabilities in charter schools. “Overwhelmingly, kids with<br />

disabilities are in inclusive settings [at charters],” she says. “That’s associated with positive outcomes for a lot of kids, but terrible outcomes for others.”<br />

By Leah Fabel (Chicago ’01) photographs by ted jackson<br />

A New Orleans charter school network is<br />

bucking charters’ bad rap for neglecting<br />

students with special needs<br />

Last summer, Liz Marcell (R.G.V. ’99) was notified that two students, both<br />

of whom used wheelchairs, had enrolled at ReNEW Cultural Arts Academy<br />

in New Orleans—one of five ReNEW charter schools in the city. The threestory<br />

school is slated for renovations this summer, but until then, it has<br />

no elevator. “Some schools would say, ‘We’re not taking them—we’re not<br />

handicapped accessible,’” says Marcell, the network’s executive director of<br />

intervention services—elsewhere called special education. “We say, ‘Okay,<br />

we’re buying a stair climber.’”<br />

The decision was simple, she says,<br />

because it fit perfectly within one of the<br />

network’s foundational values: that every<br />

student, regardless of ability, deserves<br />

an excellent education tailored to his or<br />

her unique needs. “At the end of the day,<br />

there is a real commitment here truly to<br />

serving all kids. That mindset has to be<br />

there,” Marcell says. In 2010, she was<br />

the first person hired by ReNEW’s cofounders—before<br />

they had even received<br />

their charter.<br />

Nationwide, the charter movement<br />

has earned a poor reputation for serving<br />

kids with disabilities—for some schools,<br />

a “no excuses” approach hasn’t applied<br />

equally to all students. In fact, a couple<br />

of excuses are cited consistently, neither<br />

of which fully explain the problem: First,<br />

that charters can’t afford kids with special<br />

needs—they don’t have the economy<br />

of scale compared to traditional districts<br />

to provide adequate resources and services.<br />

Secondly, that charters, which tend<br />

to be relatively new and staffed by young<br />

teachers, lack the institutional knowledge<br />

and expertise to run quality special education<br />

programs.<br />

The reality nationwide is that charters<br />

do serve a lower percentage of students<br />

with disabilities. A 2012 report by<br />

the U.S. Government Accountability Office<br />

found that students with disabilities<br />

make up about 8 percent of charter school<br />

enrollment, compared with 11 percent of<br />

traditional public schools—though in<br />

a handful of states, including Nevada<br />

and Pennsylvania, charters serve a<br />

greater percentage.<br />

The report, which recommended more<br />

federal attention to the issue, suggested<br />

several factors contributing to the gap,<br />

including a lack of adequate resources<br />

for charters in some states, and parental<br />

choice. For example, some parents<br />

may find that a charter’s unique mission<br />

doesn’t align with their child’s special<br />

needs, or that the charter’s capacity to<br />

serve their child pales compared to the<br />

district’s resources.<br />

The GAO report also found anecdotal<br />

evidence—though no comprehensive<br />

data—of charter operators illegally discouraging<br />

children with disabilities from<br />

attending their schools—a common criticism<br />

leveled at the charter movement.<br />

Even charters that do serve students<br />

with disabilities often lack the resources<br />

to implement comprehensive specialneeds<br />

programming. Whereas ideally<br />

schools have in-house specialists who<br />

work regularly and closely with students<br />

to provide therapy or services to students,<br />

charters often hire outside contractors to<br />

come in and provide speech and occupational<br />

therapy, and perform students’ annual<br />

Individualized Education Program<br />

(IEP) evaluations. The result is a more<br />

piecemeal approach to providing for students’<br />

needs than well-functioning districts<br />

can provide.<br />

n New Orleans, post-Katrina<br />

school reform fueled an unprecedented<br />

expansion of charter<br />

schools. Today, nearly 90 percent<br />

of the city’s students attend a<br />

charter—and on average, charters serve<br />

a higher percentage of students with special<br />

needs than the few remaining traditional<br />

district schools. For many students,<br />

New Orleans’ reforms have proved to be a<br />

great thing—citywide academic outcomes<br />

have improved steadily since 2006. But<br />

for students with special needs, the reforms<br />

too often left them flailing.<br />

Kathy Kilgore is a 40-year special<br />

educator and founder of New Orleans’<br />

SUNS Center, which provides schools<br />

with special education support services.<br />

In the first years after Katrina, she says,<br />

charters had little support from the state<br />

when it came to setting up quality programs<br />

for students with disabilities. “On<br />

the one hand, the schools were trying to<br />

be innovative and meet the needs of kids,<br />

but often because of untrained or inexperienced<br />

staff, their interventions were<br />

one-size-fits-all,” she says.<br />

The results were dismal. In 2008, the<br />

graduation rate for students with disabilities<br />

in the Recovery School District—a<br />

group of 101 schools overseen by the state,<br />

66 of which are in New Orleans—was less<br />

than half the rate for their peers without<br />

disabilities. The same year, nearly 95 percent<br />

of the district’s eighth graders with<br />

disabilities failed the state assessments.<br />

In 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center<br />

filed an ongoing civil rights lawsuit<br />

against the Louisiana State Department<br />

of Education, arguing that New Orleans<br />

students with disabilities fail to receive<br />

services required under federal law.<br />

“Every time I hear about charters not<br />

doing this work well, it fuels me,” Marcell<br />

says. “Our outcomes are abysmal, and<br />

the services provided are abysmal, and<br />

there’s no greater need than for a focus on<br />

really quality services and support. The<br />

research shows that 85 to 90 percent of<br />

kids with disabilities are able to perform<br />

on grade level. That’s not happening.”<br />

Still, she is heartened by improvements—in<br />

2012, 39 percent of New Orleans<br />

students with special needs scored<br />

“basic or above” on state assessments, up<br />

from about 11 percent in 2005.<br />

38 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 39


Andrea Smith Bailey (G.N.O. ’99) has spent most of her career teaching students with severe emotional disabilities, balancing patience and compassion with an<br />

unwavering focus on academics. “I could validate their behaviors till the cows come home,” she says. “But that wouldn’t change the fact that we have a job to do.”<br />

Marcell and others admit that charters<br />

are at a financial disadvantage when<br />

it comes to serving kids with special<br />

needs. “One of the biggest limitations of<br />

[the Recovery School District’s] current<br />

funding formula is that it does not provide<br />

adequate resources to cover the average<br />

per-pupil cost of the highest-need<br />

students,” says Josh McCarty, a spokesman<br />

for the nonprofit New Schools for<br />

New Orleans. “Currently, dollars are distributed<br />

based on the disability diagnosis<br />

alone, and not based on the total care<br />

provided to a child.” McCarty provided<br />

an example: Under the current formula,<br />

a high-functioning autistic child is funded<br />

at the same level as a severely autistic<br />

child—though as individuals, the former<br />

may be fully mainstreamed, while the latter<br />

may require several costly therapists<br />

and a full-time aide.<br />

ReNEW counters the charter movement’s<br />

poor reputation for enrolling kids<br />

with disabilities—about 14 percent of the<br />

network’s 3,390 students have IEPs, compared<br />

with a 10 percent citywide average.<br />

State test data specific to students with<br />

disabilities has not been made available<br />

since 2010-11, ReNEW’s first year. But<br />

standardized assessments are a small<br />

piece of students’ overall achievement,<br />

Marcell says. So ReNEW has become<br />

focused on IEP goal mastery, measured<br />

by a tracker launched this year where<br />

teachers enter detailed academic and<br />

behavioral outcomes. “Our goal is 100<br />

percent mastery of IEP goals,” she says,<br />

“and it looks like we may fall short of<br />

this in year one, but we’ll continue to<br />

refine our approach to tracking and<br />

attaining it.”<br />

To meet students’ needs, Marcell<br />

hustles for grant and private funding.<br />

Even so, she’s constrained. “We’re<br />

meeting expectations, but we’re not<br />

able to do what you’d see in a really<br />

affluent community for, say, an autism<br />

classroom,” she says. “You’d have<br />

applied behavioral analysis, you’d<br />

have sensory stimulation. So, we can<br />

know that’s what we’re shooting for,<br />

but without private funding we can’t<br />

get there.”<br />

ReNEW manages the funds it does receive<br />

to operate five programs tailored for<br />

kids with special needs. The five-school<br />

network has a classroom of 3-year-olds—<br />

half with disabilities, half developing typi-<br />

cally—two classrooms for students with<br />

severe autism spectrum disorders, one<br />

“community skills” classroom for middle<br />

school students with moderate cognitive<br />

impairments, a high school for students<br />

up to 22 years old who are missing credits,<br />

and two “therapeutic classrooms” for<br />

students with serious psychiatric disabilities.<br />

Each program relies on intense differentiation<br />

and student schedules flexible<br />

enough to include small-group settings,<br />

mainstream settings, early start times,<br />

late start times, and counseling sessions.<br />

Through the Recovery School District,<br />

ReNEW students with the most severe<br />

disabilities generate for their school an additional<br />

$15,000 on top of their per-pupil<br />

funding. The therapeutic program, for<br />

example, costs about $600,000 per year—<br />

which goes to two teachers, three paraprofessionals,<br />

one full-time counselor, a psychiatrist,<br />

and supports frequent field trips<br />

and professional development, like crisisprevention<br />

training. Per-pupil funding for<br />

the program’s 14 students brings in about<br />

$350,000, leaving the school on its own<br />

to find the additional dollars each year<br />

through state and private grants. New<br />

Schools for New Orleans, which serves in<br />

part as a clearinghouse of philanthropic<br />

dollars, recommended the program for expansion<br />

in 2014-15.<br />

Andrea Smith Bailey (G.N.O. ’99)<br />

teaches the third-through-fifth-grade<br />

therapeutic classroom; she also has a master’s<br />

in counseling. Many of her students<br />

perform on or even above grade level but<br />

suffer from behavioral disabilities stemming<br />

in part from traumatic life experiences—family<br />

members murdered or incarcerated,<br />

physical and emotional abuse,<br />

chronic neglect, a lifetime of bouncing<br />

between homes and guardians. “We only<br />

hear the tip of the iceberg,” Bailey says.<br />

After more than 10 years working with<br />

students with behavioral disabilities, Bailey<br />

has learned to focus her attention inside<br />

the classroom, and not on their lives<br />

outside. “I want us to be in tune with kids’<br />

lives, but I don’t want us to match that<br />

tune,” she says. “Our job in a lot of ways<br />

is to create four walls that feel different,<br />

where kids have an experience to latch on<br />

to and to say: ‘I knew how to control things<br />

in there. My decisions are what mattered,<br />

my efforts are what mattered, I knew how<br />

to get what I needed.’ And then to translate<br />

that experience elsewhere.”<br />

She reminds them daily that success<br />

opens doors for them, and that unfair as<br />

it may seem, the world doesn’t stop for<br />

their problems. The goal is a successful<br />

transition back to general education<br />

classrooms—something that all but two of<br />

them do for at least part of the day. “They<br />

may have challenges along the way, but it<br />

doesn’t change the fact that I want them to<br />

know what they need to do to get to where<br />

they want to be.”<br />

Results have been promising. Suspensions<br />

have dropped dramatically—prior<br />

to the program, each student had received<br />

the maximum 10 days; this year, only<br />

one student has been suspended, once,<br />

for two days. Academically, students in<br />

the program have grown, on average, 1.5<br />

reading levels each year. Three students<br />

have exited the program fully—they’re<br />

still receiving special services, but in an<br />

inclusive setting.<br />

Half a mile away at ReNEW Accelerated<br />

High School, students between<br />

16 and 22 years old work in computer<br />

labs at their own pace to earn credits<br />

toward a high school diploma. They<br />

attend school for four hours a day—either<br />

a morning or an afternoon shift—<br />

and they study only two core subjects<br />

at a time. Many have their own kids,<br />

many have jobs, some have been incarcerated.<br />

The computer labs are divided<br />

by subject area (math, science,<br />

English, and social studies) and each<br />

is staffed with three teachers. Each<br />

lab has a small adjacent room for<br />

pull-out direct instruction based on<br />

computer assessments.<br />

“This is about rethinking the high<br />

school classroom—for all kids, not just<br />

those with IEPs,” says Emily Perhamus<br />

(G.N.O. ’09), who oversees the high<br />

school’s intervention services. “We have<br />

a whole lot of kids who’ve been identified<br />

with a disability, and a whole lot<br />

more who never have,” she says, explaining<br />

that some weren’t in one place long<br />

enough to be evaluated, and some fell behind<br />

for reasons other than a disability.<br />

From her shared office, Perhamus<br />

describes a former student, Shadrica,<br />

who despite cognitive delays persisted<br />

until she earned a diploma. “I’ve never<br />

seen anyone work so hard to retain information.<br />

But in June, she was able to<br />

graduate, and now she’s enrolled at a<br />

local community college. She’s someone<br />

who wouldn’t have had a school to go to if<br />

this school didn’t exist,” she says.<br />

Shadrica is one of 129 graduates in<br />

the school’s 2 ½-year history. In 2012,<br />

18 students earned a diploma, followed<br />

by 90 more in 2013. This year, up to<br />

100 graduates are expected by June.<br />

In addition, the attendance rate has increased<br />

to 81 percent, up from 68 percent<br />

in 2011-12.<br />

The successes keep Marcell motivated,<br />

despite a constant thirst for more<br />

and better information about how to<br />

serve kids with such tremendous obstacles<br />

to overcome. But if successful strategies<br />

are to be found, she’s hopeful that<br />

ReNEW can serve as an inspiration to<br />

other charters to redouble their efforts.<br />

“Charters are supposed to be places<br />

where innovation and flexibility result<br />

in cool things happening for students,<br />

and increased outcomes,” Marcell says.<br />

“I’m excited about the possibility that<br />

charters can be the place where there’s<br />

room for that level of innovation and<br />

experimentation to think about how we<br />

serve students with special needs. That’s<br />

invigorating.” <br />

Jennifer Boyce (Delta ’03) leads ReNEW’s community skills class for students with moderate intellectual disabilities.<br />

“To be able to teach skills like how to shop, or to be toilet-trained—that changes a kid’s life,” Boyce says.<br />

40 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 41


1893<br />

BROWN V. BOARD<br />

OF EDUCATION<br />

1954 U.S. Supreme Court strikes<br />

down “separate but equal” laws.<br />

1852<br />

Massachusetts becomes first state to<br />

pass a compulsory education law requir-<br />

The constitutional guarantee of<br />

ing students aged 8-14 to attend school. 1922<br />

Massachusetts case Watson v. City of<br />

1927<br />

equal protection—so paramount<br />

1961<br />

Columbia professor Elizabeth Farrell<br />

Cambridge upholds the exclusion of a<br />

In Buck v. Bell, the U.S. Supreme Court<br />

to the civil rights movement—becomes<br />

the foundation of the ability<br />

founds the Council for Exceptional Children,<br />

“mentally retarded” child from public<br />

validates the right of states to forcibly<br />

the first American intellectual disability<br />

school for being too “weak-minded” to<br />

sterilize “the unfit,” including people<br />

rights organization.<br />

rights movement.<br />

benefit from instruction.<br />

with disabilities.<br />

Findings from a panel appointed by<br />

President Kennedy prompt new legislation<br />

funding university research and community<br />

facilities for people with disabilities.<br />

1900s<br />

1800s<br />

1966<br />

The Bureau of Education for the Handicapped<br />

is created within the U.S. Department<br />

of Education.<br />

1973<br />

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of<br />

1973 is the first federal civil rights law that<br />

guarantees the rights of individuals with<br />

disabilities, prohibiting discrimination<br />

by any federally funded programs<br />

or services.<br />

1967<br />

The number of Americans with<br />

disabilities living in state-run institutions<br />

peaks at 194,650.<br />

EAHCA<br />

1975 The Education for All<br />

Handicapped Children Act<br />

(EAHCA) guarantees—for the<br />

first time—the right to a “free,<br />

appropriate, public education”<br />

for all children with disabilities.<br />

1970<br />

Congress’ Education of the Handicapped Act<br />

(EHA) establishes a legislative definition of<br />

learning disabilities and authorizes funding<br />

for “model centers” for the education<br />

of children with disabilities.<br />

1982<br />

The Supreme Court rules in Hendrick<br />

Hudson District Board of Education v.<br />

Rowley that Individualized Education<br />

Programs for students with disabilities<br />

are not required to “maximize the potential<br />

of handicapped children,” only to<br />

guarantee a “basic floor of opportunity.”<br />

JANUARY 6, 1972<br />

A Peabody Award-winning television<br />

exposé sparks a national furor over<br />

the horrifying conditions and abuse at<br />

Willowbrook State School for people with<br />

disabilities, New York’s largest state-run<br />

institution. The school is closed in 1987.<br />

1990<br />

The EAHCA is reauthorized as the<br />

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act,<br />

expanding the categories of disabilities<br />

eligible for services, among other improvements.<br />

The Americans with Disabilities<br />

Act of 1990 prohibits discrimination<br />

based on disability in employment and<br />

most other sectors.<br />

May 5, 1972<br />

After the landmark lawsuit Pennsylvania<br />

Association for Retarded Children v.<br />

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the state<br />

agrees to provide a free public education<br />

for children with mental retardation,<br />

reversing previous legislation.<br />

1997<br />

IDEA is reauthorized, strengthening the<br />

disability evaluation process and requiring<br />

most students with disabilities to<br />

participate in state- and district-wide<br />

assessments.<br />

Mills v. board<br />

of education<br />

august 1, 1972 Mills v. Board of<br />

Education of District of Columbia<br />

decrees that lack of funding<br />

cannot be used as a reason to<br />

deny educational services to<br />

children with disabilities.<br />

2000s<br />

2002<br />

The Elementary and Secondary Education<br />

Act is reauthorized as the No Child Left<br />

Behind Act. With few exceptions, the test<br />

scores of students with disabilities are<br />

included in measures of whether schools<br />

are making “adequate yearly progress.”<br />

the ability rights<br />

movement<br />

through the years<br />

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is less than 40 years old. For<br />

the majority of U.S. history, public schools had no legal obligation to educate<br />

or accommodate students with disabilities. The cultural shifts that made IDEA<br />

possible were the culmination of a century’s worth of advocacy and struggle<br />

that ran parallel to the civil rights movement. By Tim Kennedy (Delta ’11)<br />

2004<br />

IDEA is reauthorized with stricter<br />

standards for documenting “response to<br />

intervention” treatment for students with<br />

disabilities, including the presence of<br />

“highly qualified” teachers, researchbased<br />

instruction, and repeated<br />

assessments at “reasonable” intervals.<br />

2012<br />

According to an awareness survey<br />

conducted by the National Center for<br />

Learning Disabilities, 90 percent of<br />

respondents know that terminating<br />

an employee over a learning disability<br />

is illegal, and 84 percent agree that<br />

students with disabilities deserve extra<br />

classroom time and attention.<br />

MARCH<br />

24, 2014<br />

Thanks to new rules from the<br />

Department of Labor, federal contractors<br />

will be encouraged to meet a goal<br />

of having 7 percent of their employees<br />

be people with disabilities—potentially<br />

creating 600,000 jobs for individuals<br />

with disabilities.<br />

Photo sources: MadMarlin (Flickr, CC BY 2.0); chbrenchley (Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0);<br />

Steve Rhodes (Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0); Shutterstock.<br />

42 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 43


Becoming<br />

Sammie<br />

By Leah Fabel (Chicago ’01) photographs by sara rubinstein<br />

For this story, I set out to find a high school student with a fairly<br />

typical learning disability—one of the millions of students who<br />

struggle daily, often unnoticed, with tasks most people find effortless—<br />

like reading or basic computation. I sought the kind of kid who sits in<br />

every classroom in the country—the kind who works twice as hard as his<br />

classmates, usually to land in the middle of the pack. I wanted to spend<br />

enough time with him, his teachers, and his family to begin to see life as<br />

he sees it. Sammie Watkins, Jr.’s story asks us to reconsider our notions of<br />

academic success—to see that accomplishments are sometimes relative,<br />

but not the work put into them, nor the pride at their completion.<br />

44 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 45


ammie Watkins, Jr., flops his backpack on a<br />

table at Brooklyn Center High School, just north<br />

S<br />

of Minneapolis, and pulls out his homework—an<br />

essay for sociology class about his family.<br />

“My family is from Mississippi we moved to Minnesota<br />

in 2001,” he writes. “My mom is a single parent, I have 3<br />

brothers and two of them lives with me and 1 lives with my<br />

dad in Mississippi.”<br />

As a senior, the act of writing finally comes easily, he<br />

says. But even now, once the words are on paper, Sammie’s<br />

brain plays a trick. When he goes back to read the essay<br />

he just wrote, he squints his eyes, scratches his head. The<br />

words are a puzzle, demanding focus and patience to decipher<br />

and comprehend.<br />

“Reading is not my subject,” he says. At the end of period,<br />

he stuffs the sociology draft in his backpack and stretches as<br />

he stands, revealing the 6 ½-foot wingspan that on the basketball<br />

court makes him the Centaurs’ best defender.<br />

Sammie has a reading disability—the catch-all term is<br />

dyslexia. “It’s a headache,” he says. And he means it literally:<br />

His brain hurts from trying to do something it was never<br />

designed to do. In fact, recent neuroscience shows that even<br />

the best readers weren’t born with a brain designed to read.<br />

Reading happens because our brains rearrange circuits designed<br />

for other purposes entirely—purposes like hearing,<br />

seeing, and remembering. But for about 15 percent of English<br />

speakers, reading circuits don’t form efficiently or at all—<br />

words in a dyslexic brain get caught in neural detours and<br />

traffic jams, making understanding painfully difficult.<br />

Signs of trouble showed up early for Sammie. “It kinda hit<br />

me when he was 5,” says his mom, Tracy Hoskins, recalling<br />

her son darting around their home in the small Delta<br />

town of Hollandale, Miss. He was a natural athlete but slow<br />

to pronounce even simple words. “Wasn’t till 7 or so that he<br />

could really communicate,” she says. In ways she couldn’t<br />

quite define, Sammie reminded Tracy of her husband, his father—and<br />

she worried, because she had watched Sammie Sr.<br />

struggle to read as long as she had known him.<br />

She observed what researchers have begun to prove: Many<br />

learning disabilities are rooted in genetics, and a child’s early<br />

speech patterns can indicate later struggles with reading. A<br />

young child may hear a word perfectly, but within his brain,<br />

the storage of the sounds is so imprecise that when he uses<br />

the word, it comes out garbled—ba might become pa. Years<br />

later, when it comes time to assign letters to sounds, a b may<br />

as well be a p, and on the scale of the entire alphabet, each<br />

word on the page becomes a puzzle.<br />

In 2001, Tracy moved to Minnesota with Sammie and his<br />

two brothers. Throughout elementary school, she knew her<br />

son was trailing his peers. But his teachers blamed his age,<br />

she says. “I was listening to them say, ‘He’s the youngest in<br />

his grade, takes time for him to catch up.’ But by the end of<br />

fifth grade, I said something’s gotta give.”<br />

During the summers, Sammie spent carefree hours in Hollandale<br />

with his dad and his brothers, playing basketball<br />

night and day. Sammie Sr. taught his sons everything he<br />

knew—not just to shoot well, but to understand the whole<br />

court, to know his teammates’ strengths and weaknesses,<br />

and to strategize as if basketball were a chess game played<br />

at full speed. Sammie Sr. had been a great basketball player,<br />

too, but left scholarships on the table when he couldn’t hack<br />

college academics.<br />

When Sammie returned to Minnesota in the fall of 2007,<br />

a sixth grade reading assessment placed him at a secondgrade<br />

level—he could read words like “please” and “town,”<br />

but missed ones like “quietly” and “frightened.” Finally, at<br />

the close of seventh grade, after years of falling further and<br />

further behind, he received his first formal evaluation for<br />

special needs.<br />

Sammie “would be predicted to have a great deal of difficulty<br />

in processing verbal information considered typical<br />

for his age,” it said. It recommended academic material<br />

presented in small chunks, with colorful pictures.<br />

The evaluation called out his strengths, too—a good shortterm<br />

memory, tested by exercises like repeating back a string<br />

of words or sounds—and nonverbal processing, like moving a<br />

game piece strategically across a board.<br />

But then there was his behavior: “Mom reports that he<br />

has anger issues,” the report said. He had been referred for<br />

therapy, but no one followed through. “Mom feels as though<br />

Sammie shuts down when he doesn’t know how to do school,”<br />

it said.<br />

In eighth grade, Sammie received mostly Cs, but he was<br />

stuck at a second-grade reading level. Teachers noted his<br />

apathy in class and a failure to complete his homework. He<br />

skipped school when he felt like it, started fights when he felt<br />

like it, and talked back to his teachers.<br />

Holly Andersen (Twin Cities ’09) was a first-year corps<br />

member at Brooklyn Center, a combined middle and high<br />

school, when she became Sammie’s special education case<br />

Holly Andersen (Twin Cities ’09) has been Sammie’s case manager since 2009. “His kindness has come out. He has such a good heart, but for a long time<br />

there were barriers to seeing that. I think as he’s figured himself out more, and as school has fallen into place, Sammie is more able to be that person.”<br />

reading happens because our brains rearrange<br />

circuits designed for other purposes entirely ...<br />

but For about 15 percent of english speakers,<br />

reading circuits don’t form efficiently or at all.<br />

46 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 47


“right now, if sammie were a book, i finally got into<br />

chapter one,” says basketball coach lamii zarlee.<br />

Sammie is applying to colleges in Mississippi and Minnesota. “I am worried about how college will be,” he says. “I don’t know if I’ll be getting the same help<br />

I get now.” But there’s a critical difference between Sammie earlier in high school and Sammie on the verge of graduating: “Now, I know how to ask for it.”<br />

manager—a role she holds today as well as being the district’s<br />

lead secondary special education teacher. She is energetic and<br />

animated, throwing her hands out as she describes countless<br />

times when eighth grade Sammie would rip up papers or tests<br />

in silent protest. “He’d just come into my room and say he<br />

wasn’t going to do it, and that was it,” she says.<br />

Holly recalls the first time Sammie read to her: “He read<br />

me a paragraph—I’ll guess it was at about a fourth grade level.<br />

I remember it was an African folklore book, and the only<br />

word he needed help with was ‘hippopotamus.’ When he was<br />

done, he wouldn’t talk to me, and he just put his head down<br />

and cried—silent tears, and he wouldn’t talk to me anymore.<br />

I said, ‘Sammie, you did really well! You missed one word—<br />

you did really well!’ And he put his head down and cried.”<br />

Holly spent long hours figuring out what would work best<br />

for him. “He’d come down and say, ‘I’m not gonna do this test.’<br />

And I’d pretend I didn’t hear him correctly. I’d go over there<br />

and say, ‘Okay, let’s figure out how to do this,’” she says.<br />

They spent much of ninth and tenth grade working on<br />

writing—hours spent over papers, color-coding each sentence<br />

by topic, and then rearranging the sentences, by color, into<br />

paragraphs. Holly worked with the school librarian to secure<br />

more audio books, which have proved critical to Sammie’s access<br />

to reading. She would read aloud with him, too—books<br />

like The Outsiders and Of Mice and Men. Slowly, as Sammie<br />

became more comfortable, he would read aloud to Holly, and<br />

they would discuss the themes that had been locked behind<br />

the words: friendship, loss, growing up.<br />

By 10th grade, teachers noted an improvement in his writing<br />

skills, and his reading had notched up to a fifth grade level.<br />

His behavior was still inconsistent, but better than it had<br />

been in middle school. By 11th grade, he had become more<br />

willing to ask for help when he needed it—a critical skill for<br />

an often taciturn student. He no longer tore up tests, and he<br />

more often turned in his homework.<br />

But like any kid, Sammie was contending with more than<br />

his schoolwork. There was basketball, a social life, family.<br />

His dad, in many ways his idol, still lived in Hollandale—<br />

home to Sammie’s happiest memories, but one of his saddest,<br />

too: In 2007, Sammie Sr. was sent to prison on a drug<br />

conviction. He served two years, mostly while Sammie was<br />

in middle school.<br />

When his dad was in prison, “it took a whole lot outta<br />

Sammie—because he was used to going down there, seeing<br />

him every summer, every holiday,” Tracy says. He became<br />

more withdrawn, more temperamental. “As he got older, I<br />

saw a lot of stuff changing about him, but the anger just kept<br />

on coming out, kept on coming out.”<br />

In the winter of his junior year, just as he was making<br />

progress in the classroom, Sammie quit Brooklyn Center’s<br />

basketball team one game before the regional championship<br />

that could’ve sent them to the state tournament. It was<br />

a matter of pride—he didn’t feel he was getting the playing<br />

time he deserved, and he blamed his coach. “I didn’t think at<br />

the time,” he says. “I just wanted to quit.”<br />

His last school summer came. He spent August in<br />

Mississippi, playing basketball till midnight under an alleyway<br />

streetlamp with his brothers and his dad. They knew well<br />

enough not to press him about quitting the team—if Sammie<br />

expresses one thing, it’s that he doesn’t like to say much, and<br />

basketball is the time when no one expects him to say anything<br />

at all. His mind clears, he can be perfect. But somewhere in<br />

his thoughts, he says, he considered his dreams—graduating<br />

from college, playing basketball as long as he could. “I just<br />

thought to myself, I want to be better,” he says.<br />

No one around Sammie can quite explain what happened<br />

next, but to call it by what it’s always been: “He grew up,”<br />

Tracy says—no one more astonished than she. “He said his<br />

senior year was gonna be different—he just changed.”<br />

Sammie’s basketball coach, Lamii Zarlee, is also the middle<br />

school dean. He has known Sammie since seventh grade,<br />

when Sammie would sit with him and sulk after being sent<br />

out of class. “I deal with kids during these wonder years, and<br />

normally by ninth or tenth grade, that maturity kicks in,”<br />

he says. “It just took Sammie a little longer. And he’s still<br />

opening up. Right now, if he were a book, I finally got into<br />

chapter one.”<br />

Sammie earned a B average his first senior semester. He<br />

read The Road, Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning<br />

survival tale of a boy and his father—he even skipped open<br />

gym one afternoon to continue reading it. He’s back on the<br />

basketball team, one of three captains, averaging 16 points<br />

and 7 rebounds per game. He’s deciding between colleges<br />

in Mississippi and Minnesota. “I’m just focusing more,”<br />

he says.<br />

O<br />

n a winter evening following practice, Sammie<br />

sits beside his little brother and across from<br />

Holly, in a corner booth at a Chinese restaurant<br />

near the high school. His gray T-shirt reveals tattoos on his<br />

wiry biceps—one in memory of his grandmother and one of<br />

a basketball hoop with a cross.<br />

“I’m average,” Sammie says. “I feel I’m average at<br />

all subjects.”<br />

Holly cocks her head, as if trying to recognize the young<br />

man who once refused even to begin his schoolwork. “Do you<br />

think you always felt like you were average?”<br />

Sammie laughs quietly, and then looks to the side. “I felt<br />

like giving up. I thought I was going to be at the ALC”—the<br />

district’s alternative school—“by 12th grade.”<br />

Holly is quiet for a moment. The exchange is, in a way,<br />

her exit cue, she says later—not because average is the end<br />

goal, but because it’s the place where she can begin to bow<br />

out, where her daily supports are no longer a necessity.<br />

Average doesn’t reflect Sammie’s potential—far from it. But<br />

it reflects how far he’s come.<br />

“Look at you,” she says. “Are you proud you stayed?”<br />

He raises his eyebrows; a shy smile escapes. “Yeah,”<br />

he says. <br />

48 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 49


Perspectives<br />

on Ability<br />

Faith<br />

Taniesha Garrison (Metro Atlanta ’03) doesn’t complain<br />

about having to advocate constantly for her daughter’s<br />

education. “Faith was born at 24 weeks. She was a pound and<br />

six ounces,” says Garrison, who runs the team that designs<br />

professional development for Atlanta corps members. “She’d be<br />

pulling at all the tubes and wires, and I thought, this kid has<br />

worked so hard just to be here. So, it doesn’t matter how much<br />

I fight, I can never fight that hard.”<br />

Faith began showing symptoms of autism when she was 2.<br />

At 4, she began pre-K and Garrison met a teacher who would<br />

fundamentally shape the way she approaches Faith’s education.<br />

Ms. Williams sent home a daily log of Faith’s activities<br />

and progress. “She was interested in what I wanted for Faith,<br />

not just what she saw of Faith.” And she encouraged Garrison<br />

to plan backward from her aspirations for Faith, not only<br />

what she saw in the day to day. Ms. Williams held Faith to a<br />

high standard, teaching her numbers and letters, and worked<br />

with Garrison to find learning strategies that worked for<br />

her daughter.<br />

“All the pushing I did after that was based on the fact that<br />

I saw my child, at the very beginning of her academic career,<br />

making so much growth,” Garrison says.<br />

Since then, things have been harder. Two years ago, Garrison,<br />

a single mother, had to hire an attorney during a protracted<br />

dispute with Faith’s school over behavioral support. She<br />

estimates her daughter lost about 18 months of learning time.<br />

Today Faith is 12 and being taught in a self-contained sixth<br />

grade classroom. Garrison says she wants her daughter to be<br />

ready to pass the GED by the time she’s 22, and then “she and I<br />

will work toward getting ready for community college.”<br />

But partnering with Faith’s school to meet this goal remains<br />

a challenge. She recounts a recent frustration when<br />

she saw that Faith’s report card had grade percentages with<br />

no data behind them. “I said, ‘This is so disempowering to<br />

me as a parent. I can’t make decisions or give you good input<br />

on what her goals need to be because you haven’t given<br />

me any data on her performance or progress.’ It’s so hard to<br />

say that. I have a degree from Harvard, but I still walk into<br />

those meetings and my pulse is racing. It’s the most intimidating<br />

thing ever. Because they don’t know who Faith is and<br />

they’re not as invested in her future as I am. And hearing<br />

people say things like, ‘This would be too advanced for your<br />

child’—that hurts. It doesn’t make me angry. It just hurts.<br />

This is my child. I think they do care, but I need you to put<br />

up the periscope and see that this isn’t just one year. This<br />

is her life. The stuff we do right now has an impact on her<br />

life forever.”<br />

Garrison holds to the optimism she feels every day with<br />

her daughter. “She’s a great kid. She just makes me hopeful.<br />

I think a lot times people look at kids with disabilities, especially<br />

those with severe ones, and they’ll see the disability<br />

but not the person. I see the person. So it’s my job to get Faith<br />

to a place where everyone can see who she is and all the talents<br />

she brings to this world.”<br />

Brent Bushey, Madeleine, Charlotte, and Kirsten Wright<br />

Madeleine<br />

by Ting yu (N.Y. ’03) Faith with her mom, Taniesha Garrison<br />

by Brent bushey (g.n.o. ’99)<br />

I vividly remember the moment the doctor entered our<br />

hospital room. She introduced herself as a geneticist and said<br />

matter-of-factly, “Your daughter has trisomy-21, more commonly<br />

known as Down syndrome.” The news came three days after<br />

the emergency birth of our daughter, Madeleine, two months<br />

before her due date. She weighed just 2 pounds, 9 ounces.<br />

My wife Kirsten and I had met nine years earlier as Teach<br />

For America corps members teaching special education in New<br />

Orleans. While my mind was racing with the doctor’s words, I<br />

remember looking at Kirsten and thinking that if any couple is<br />

equipped to handle this, it’s the two of us. The doctor answered<br />

a few of our questions, handed us a book about raising a child<br />

with Down syndrome and walked out.<br />

When we first introduced Madeleine to the world, we<br />

made a conscious decision about how we would raise her. In<br />

an email to family and friends, we announced the birth of<br />

our daughter who, by the way, had Down syndrome. From<br />

that very first moment, we set the tone that Madeleine was a<br />

person and not a diagnosis. We were open and honest to<br />

anyone who we spoke to that while her birth was neither<br />

what we expected nor what we had hoped for, we were<br />

thrilled nonetheless.<br />

Now, as the parents of two daughters, that same mindset<br />

drives our parenting philosophy—and it helps us create<br />

equity in our home. Madeleine’s younger sister Charlotte was<br />

born two years later, and she’s the typically developing child<br />

that we always expected.<br />

“From that first moment, we set the tone that<br />

Madeleine was a person and not a diagnosis.<br />

While her birth was neither what we expected<br />

nor hoped for, we were thrilled nonethless.”<br />

When Madeleine was 4, we decided to split her schooling<br />

between a self-contained school and the Center for Young<br />

Children, a private preschool run by the University of Maryland,<br />

where she would be taught in a classroom with typically<br />

developing children. It had taken us 2½ years of meetings<br />

and waiting to get her into CYC—Madeleine was the first<br />

child with Down syndrome to be enrolled in the program in<br />

24 years—but once there, she thrived. Madeleine enjoyed rotating<br />

between activities of her choosing, and engaging with<br />

her peers gave her opportunities to learn by observing classmates<br />

and responding appropriately.<br />

Her classmates benefited, too. One girl initially looked at<br />

Madeleine like she was an alien, but after spending a year in<br />

class together, I saw the same girl play with and include our<br />

daughter in all the activities at a Fourth of July party. It was<br />

another reminder that inclusive education is important for all<br />

students, not just those with disabilities.<br />

Today, Madeleine, 5, attends kindergarten in an inclusion<br />

school in Edmond, Okla., and she continues to thrive. Our<br />

guidance to her teachers is simple: We want them to hold high<br />

expectations for our daughter. We know that it can be hard for<br />

educators to hold high expectations for children with special<br />

needs—especially one as loving and cute as Madeleine—but<br />

excusing her from difficult tasks will only hold her back as<br />

she develops. We also share our belief in developing a “growth<br />

mindset” and stress that praising effort is a critical component<br />

to Madeleine overcoming challenges in life.<br />

At the end of the day, we aren’t naïve and we know that<br />

Madeleine’s diagnosis of Down syndrome will present challenges<br />

and limitations that Charlotte won’t have to face. We<br />

know our expectations and desires for Madeleine may differ<br />

from her own goals. Still, we want the same thing for both our<br />

daughters: to live happy, enriching lives that enable them to<br />

use their talents to the fullest in whatever path they choose.<br />

And we’re thankful for the two wonderful girls we’re raising,<br />

one of whom just happens to have Down syndrome.<br />

Brent Bushey and his wife Kirsten Wright met as special education<br />

corps members in New Orleans in 1999. Brent heads the<br />

Oklahoma Public School Resource Center and Kirsten works<br />

for Teach For America’s school leadership initiative. They hope<br />

more alumni will join them in the fight for Oklahoma’s kids.<br />

50 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 51


Adele<br />

It was a sunny day and our kitchen was warm and<br />

bright when my world changed. Voice shaking and eyes watering,<br />

my mom sat me on her lap and told me I would be<br />

leaving first grade and returning to kindergarten. She rocked<br />

me on her lap as I started to cry. The school had informed my<br />

mother that I was “progressing poorly.” Even now, I remember<br />

my heart sinking as I began to understand that there<br />

was something “wrong” with me, but nobody, least of all me,<br />

knew what it was.<br />

I don’t remember what sparked the multitude of tests I<br />

underwent during my first failed attempt as a first grader;<br />

I have more memories of being tested than learning during<br />

this time. I passed school hearing tests, but the school’s<br />

psychological testing indicated I had no visual or auditory<br />

memory. My parents disagreed with the results—and my<br />

first grade teacher’s assessment of my academic ability—<br />

and sought additional private testing, which revealed I had<br />

learning differences related to articulation, writing (dysgraphia),<br />

and word memory (dysnomia). They recommended<br />

my hearing be retested.<br />

At first the transition back to kindergarten was fine. For a<br />

time, I was permitted to go back to my first grade classroom a<br />

few times a week to read with my group because I was a “good<br />

reader.” I loved going back and feeling “normal” for a moment.<br />

After getting my hearing aids, I stopped going back to my<br />

reading group. My life in special education had begun.<br />

With the hearing aids, my world went from ordinary to<br />

loud. My new world was hazy and accompanied by headaches.<br />

I protested the new devices by throwing them down the stairs<br />

and screaming.<br />

It took about five months after going back to kindergarten<br />

until we learned I was hard-of-hearing. I have a<br />

moderately severe sensory hearing loss—meaning I hear about<br />

60 percent less than the average person. My parents fought<br />

for services which included speech therapy and a hearing<br />

itinerate. With their advocacy I met some of the world’s best<br />

special educators.<br />

Still, school was difficult. Teachers told my parents I would<br />

never go to college. Doctors discouraged my parents from paying<br />

for independent evaluations, saying their expectations<br />

were too high and to trust the school’s initial tests. The messages<br />

I got as a student echoed my parents’ experience: I was<br />

not allowed to enroll in AP classes and teachers often told me<br />

to find “someone smart” with whom to study. These experi-<br />

ences led me to check “special education” as my teaching preference<br />

on my Teach For America corps member application.<br />

By now I have been involved with special education<br />

for more than two decades, the last 11 years as a special<br />

educator. As a teacher, I’ve met some of the most amazing<br />

students, but I almost didn’t join TFA because of my insecurities.<br />

I questioned how my difficulties with articulation and<br />

spelling would impact my ability to teach. I wanted the best<br />

for my students. I stressed over classroom management, fearing<br />

that I wouldn’t hear problems in my classroom. But I knew<br />

that I couldn’t expect my students to grow and reach for their<br />

dreams if I didn’t overcome similar challenges.<br />

To date, I have taught math, English, history, and reading<br />

to middle school students in both special and co-taught general<br />

education settings. I know firsthand the importance of having<br />

individualized high expectations for each student. I strive<br />

to define students by their abilities, not their disabilities.<br />

I have made, for now, the choice to stop wearing hearing<br />

aids, and I embrace my “hearing loss” as one of my core ingredients.<br />

I would not change my experiences for the world;<br />

they have made me a better teacher, alumna, and hopefully,<br />

a better parent.<br />

When I was invited to write this essay, I hesitated because<br />

I was frustrated by the lack of response to requests I<br />

had made for accommodations during TFA’s 20th anniversary<br />

summit in 2011. Without a sign language interpreter or closed<br />

captioning on the screens, I ended up missing much of the programming.<br />

By writing this, I hope to help TFA re-evaluate its<br />

definition of diversity to include ability. When a program for<br />

educators models advocacy for all students by accommodating<br />

its teachers and alumna, it creates a world of empathy and<br />

high expectations for all students.<br />

As TFA identifies ways to make its program more<br />

diverse—and, in turn, more inclusive to teachers who can<br />

relate to our students—the program should recruit corps<br />

members who come from a variety of learning backgrounds.<br />

TFA might also develop a more diverse application system<br />

so that potential corps members would be able to highlight<br />

their strengths.<br />

Ultimately, this benefits the students TFA serves, and it<br />

strengthens our movement.<br />

Adele Jackson (S. Louisiana ’03) is a veteran special education<br />

math teacher in Washington, D.C. <br />

LEAD<br />

transformational<br />

schools<br />

The most important work in Washington, D.C. isn’t happening on Capitol Hill.<br />

It’s happening in our schools. Will you join us?<br />

reach new heights as a leader<br />

develop new strengths in your team<br />

build a school that defies expectations<br />

For more information, visit joinDCpublicschools.com.<br />

JOINDCPUBLICSCHOOLS.COM<br />

52 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 53


innovator<br />

Brooke Charter Schools Network is founded on one core belief:<br />

Great teaching closes the achievement gap.<br />

The #1 predictor of whether a student will<br />

attend college is the rigor of the math classes<br />

they take in middle and high school.<br />

As an Atlanta ‘09 corps member, Danielle Blair knew unlocking her students’ potential in math<br />

and science would build the foundation for college readiness.<br />

Brooke’s dual teaching model and focus on professional development led Danielle to join the<br />

founding team of the second Brooke campus. There she leads her students to achieve at the<br />

highest levels across the state of Massachusetts.<br />

3 Schools | 40% Teach For America | 1 Network<br />

Take the next step in your teaching career by<br />

joining the Brooke team. Visit our website at:<br />

www.ebrooke.org<br />

Dan Cogan-Drew (Georgia ’94), left, and Matthew Gross (N.Y. ’94) founded Newsela in 2013 and are thrilled by its growth. “It has spread like wildfire,” Gross says.<br />

News Makers<br />

Looking to provide teachers with leveled, high-interest nonfiction materials, two alums turned to current events<br />

by Calvin Hennick (N.Y. ’04)<br />

f Matthew Gross (N.Y. ’94) and<br />

I<br />

Dan Cogan-Drew (Georgia ’94)<br />

had their way, this story would<br />

be written at a third grade level.<br />

And a fifth grade level.<br />

And a 10th grade level, too.<br />

That’s the innovation behind Newsela,<br />

a website the two launched last summer<br />

that allows kids to change the reading<br />

level of news articles with the click of a<br />

button; it also tracks students’ topics<br />

of interest and results on short quizzes,<br />

then recommends more news stories—<br />

each of them automatically leveled to suit<br />

the students’ reading ability.<br />

“Teachers are really desperate for nonfiction<br />

content,” says Gross, the company’s<br />

CEO. “Finding something that’s in-<br />

teresting for kids is really hard. Finding<br />

something that’s on the right level for every<br />

kid in the class is next to impossible.”<br />

The site started in a free beta mode<br />

and quickly gained thousands of new<br />

users, Gross says—though he wouldn’t<br />

specify an exact number. Newsela is still<br />

free for students, but in February the<br />

company launched a paid-subscription<br />

version for schools, offering features<br />

like access to student quiz data and the<br />

ability to assign articles electronically to<br />

students. Schools can access the service<br />

for $18 per student per year, or flat rates<br />

of $2,000 per grade or $6,000 per school.<br />

The scramble for nonfiction reading<br />

materials is due in large part to Common<br />

Core literacy standards, which emphasize<br />

“authentic texts” that students<br />

might encounter in daily life, like magazines<br />

and newspapers. Gross—who before<br />

starting Newsela helped New York<br />

educators implement the standards as<br />

executive director of the Regents Research<br />

Fund—says there was a panic<br />

around the Common Core when it was<br />

first adopted, and that Newsela was<br />

built specifically “from the Common<br />

Core up” to help address the need for<br />

high-interest nonfiction.<br />

“High-interest” and “news” don’t always<br />

go together for kids, who aren’t<br />

typically keen followers of filibuster<br />

threats, profit projections, or Iran’s nuclear<br />

ambitions. But many of the stories<br />

on Newsela are relevant to kids’ daily<br />

54 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 55


lives, touching on subjects like childhood<br />

obesity, bullying, and zero-tolerance discipline<br />

policies in schools. And, Gross<br />

says, the mere fact that students have<br />

the freedom to choose from multiple topics<br />

helps to boost engagement.<br />

In addition to giving teachers access<br />

to good content, the company wanted<br />

to upend the stereotype of clunky educational<br />

technology by making Newsela<br />

“instantly understandable” for kids and<br />

teachers, says Cogan-Drew, the company’s<br />

chief product officer.<br />

“As a teacher, if you turn to it and<br />

ask, ‘How are my kids doing?’ the<br />

software can’t come to you speaking<br />

Greek,” Cogan-Drew says. “It’s got to be<br />

super simple.”<br />

Newsela’s writers take cues from a<br />

computer program that helps them match<br />

their vocabulary and sentence complexity<br />

to a range of Lexile levels, and then<br />

the writers make their own judgments<br />

about how to present the chronology of<br />

an event, as well as how to incorporate<br />

the prior knowledge that students need<br />

to make sense of some stories.<br />

So, the original version of a Stateline<br />

article about Amazon’s proposed drone<br />

delivery service starts with, “Not so fast,<br />

Jeff Bezos”—taking for granted that<br />

readers are familiar with the e-commerce<br />

giant, its chief executive, and his<br />

plans to deliver packages via unmanned<br />

aircraft. The story explains how “the<br />

economic temptation of aerospace jobs”<br />

led Virginia to “all but gut the moratorium”<br />

on drones that the state had<br />

passed with the help of “tea partiers and<br />

civil libertarians.”<br />

At a lower reading level, the article<br />

starts with two short paragraphs defining<br />

what drones are, in basic terms. “No<br />

pilot flies inside,” the story explains.<br />

“Some are as small as a remote-controlled<br />

toy. Others are as big as a regular<br />

plane.” The “moratorium” from the more<br />

difficult version becomes a “ban” here,<br />

and the “economic temptation” turns into<br />

a “chance for new jobs.” The “tea partyers<br />

and civil libertarians” vanish entirely.<br />

Erica Welch, a fifth grade teacher at<br />

the Boston Teachers Union School, uses<br />

Newsela in her classroom for close-reading<br />

exercises, and says her students are<br />

drawn to articles about animals, science,<br />

and controversial legal issues.<br />

Welch says her students were particularly<br />

jazzed reading an article about—of<br />

all things—a decline in the sardine population<br />

off the West Coast. “As we were<br />

reading, they immediately made the<br />

connection to their ecosystems unit,” she<br />

explains. “We really had to think about<br />

the food web, and what that means for<br />

the sea lions that eat sardines, and what<br />

that means for the plankton that get<br />

eaten by the sardines.”<br />

“They love these strange topics that<br />

they don’t get to hear about in their everyday<br />

books,” Welch says—“something new<br />

and exotic that they’ve never heard of.” <br />

Alma means soul.<br />

TEACH<br />

your heart out.<br />

1<br />

3<br />

2<br />

Need help getting<br />

started? Our Teach<br />

For America Grant<br />

Program helps new<br />

programs get off<br />

their feet! Visit our<br />

website to apply.<br />

The National Speech & Debate<br />

Association is proud to partner<br />

with Teach For America!<br />

Our free resources and professional<br />

development sessions are designed<br />

to help Teach For America corps<br />

members and alumni in meeting<br />

Common Core State Standards as<br />

well as building successful speech and<br />

debate programs at your school.<br />

MA ’12<br />

Atlanta ’11<br />

Delta ’09<br />

Delta ’05<br />

MA ’13<br />

MA ‘12<br />

New Mexico ’12<br />

4<br />

Visit www.speechanddebate.org/TeachForAmerica or<br />

email info@speechanddebate.org for more information.<br />

Join us:<br />

www.almadelmar.org<br />

One Day • SPRING 2014 57


post-its<br />

Nine Teach For America alumni featured in<br />

Forbes magazine’s “30 Under 30” in education<br />

Katie Beck (G.N.O. ’08), 27, chief operating officer, 4.0<br />

Schools—an education incubator designed to bring educators,<br />

entrepreneurs, and technologists together.<br />

Dan Carroll (Bay Area ’09), 26, cofounder, Clever—an<br />

information-management system that makes student data transferrable<br />

across dozens of programs.<br />

Alejandro Gac-Artigas (Greater Philadelphia ’09), 25,<br />

founder, Springboard Collaborative—a Philadelphia-based summer<br />

program targeting the literacy gap.<br />

Elliot Sanchez (G.N.O. ’08), 27, founder, mSchool—a startup<br />

that supplies adaptive educational hardware and software to<br />

after-school programs in Louisiana.<br />

Beth Schmidt (Bay Area ’07), 29, founder, Wishbone—a web<br />

platform that helps at-risk high school students participate in<br />

extracurricular activities through the support of online donors.<br />

Mandela Schumacher-Hodge (Bay Area ’08), 28, director,<br />

Startup Weekend Education—a recurring event that brings educational<br />

visionaries together to create start-ups—in one 54-hour<br />

marathon session.<br />

EVAN STONE (N.Y. ’07) and SYDNEY MORRIS (N.Y. ’07), 29 and<br />

28 respectively, cofounders, Educators 4 Excellence— an online<br />

community that connects teachers who want to make their voices<br />

heard in the education reform debate.<br />

Caryn Voskull (Bay Area ’09), 27, manager, School Model<br />

Innovation, Rocketship Education—one of the fastest-growing<br />

charter networks in the country, with an emphasis on instructional<br />

technology and blended learning.<br />

WOULDN’T<br />

YOU LIKE …<br />

A MOMENT TO RECHARGE?<br />

AN OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN?<br />

THE CHANCE TO CONNECT?<br />

!<br />

Considering a<br />

career transition<br />

or looking to build<br />

your professional<br />

network? Visit<br />

Teach For America’s<br />

new job board!<br />

The mobile-friendly Teach For America Job<br />

Board & Talent Community is up and running.<br />

Thousands of opportunities are already<br />

posted, and we will be holding several resume<br />

collections this spring with employers seeking<br />

Teach For America alumni.<br />

Log in at www.tfanet.org/job to get started.<br />

If you have questions or want to post roles as<br />

a hiring manager, contact us at jobboard@<br />

teachforamerica.org.<br />

Business school scholarship available to Teach For America alumni<br />

The University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business is offering a scholarship package, including<br />

full tuition, to interested corps members and alumni. More information on the scholarship can be<br />

found at http://tippie.uiowa.edu/fulltimemba/admissions/scholarships.cfm, under<br />

the section “AmeriCorps Service Distinction Award.”<br />

J U LY 17-18<br />

2014<br />

Find It All At The<br />

Teach For America<br />

Educators Conference<br />

LAS VEGAS<br />

Nevada<br />

Connect with educators from across the country<br />

Learn in sessions on a broad range of topics including Latino issues in education<br />

Recharge and let us celebrate you<br />

LEARN MORE AT www.teachforamerica.org/educatorsconference<br />

58 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 59


alumni contacts<br />

National Alumni Affairs<br />

Executive vice president,<br />

Alumni Affairs<br />

Andrea Stouder Pursley (Phoenix ’02)<br />

andrea.pursley@teachforamerica.org<br />

EDUCATIONAL leadership<br />

Ann Best (Houston ’96)<br />

ann.best@teachforamerica.org<br />

School systems<br />

leadership institute<br />

Ellen Winn<br />

ellen.winn@teachforamerica.org<br />

Alumni diversity and<br />

Regional support<br />

Melinda Wright (N.Y. ’94)<br />

melinda.wright@teachforamerica.org<br />

alumni engagement<br />

Myra Palmero<br />

myra.palmero@teachforamerica.org<br />

Talent Matching<br />

Seth Saavedra (Connecticut ’07)<br />

seth.saavedra@teachforamerica.org<br />

career Leadership<br />

Kate Williams Coppola<br />

(Greater Newark ’02)<br />

kate.williams@teachforamerica.org<br />

School Leadership<br />

Hilary Lewis (G.N.O. ’01)<br />

hilary.lewis@teachforamerica.org<br />

Social Entrepreneurship<br />

Naya Bloom (D.C. Region ’94)<br />

naya.bloom@teachforamerica.org<br />

Teacher Leadership<br />

Shannon Wheatley (R.G.V. ’04)<br />

shannon.wheatley@teachforamerica.org<br />

private sector careers<br />

Christina Chinnici<br />

christina.chinnici@teachforamerica.org<br />

Regional Alumni Contacts<br />

alabama<br />

Khadijah Abdullah (S. Louisiana ’06)<br />

khadijah.abdullah@teachforamerica.org<br />

APPALACHIA<br />

Will Nash (S. Louisiana ’06)<br />

will.nash@teachforamerica.org<br />

ARKANSAS<br />

Kara Smith (N.Y. ’08)<br />

kara.smith@teachforamerica.org<br />

Austin<br />

Lindsay Fitzpatrick (N.Y. ’04)<br />

lindsay.fitzpatrick@teachforamerica.org<br />

BALTIMORE<br />

Jane Lindenfelser (S. Louisiana ’05)<br />

jane.lindenfelser@teachforamerica.org<br />

BAY AREA - OAKLAND<br />

Charles Cole<br />

charles.cole@teachforamerica.org<br />

BAY AREA - RICHMOND<br />

Piper Pehrson<br />

piper.pehrson@teachforamerica.org<br />

BAY AREA - SAN FRANCISCO<br />

Cris Garza (Mid-Atlantic ’03)<br />

cris.garza@teachforamerica.org<br />

BAY AREA - SAN JOSE<br />

Percilla Ortega (Bay Area ’08)<br />

percilla.ortega@teachforamerica.org<br />

CHARLOTTE<br />

Lisa Guckian (N.Y. ’06)<br />

lisa.guckian@teachforamerica.org<br />

CHICAGO<br />

Jessica Zander (St. Louis ’06)<br />

jessica.zander@teachforamerica.org<br />

COlorado<br />

Rachel Kelley (Baltimore ’00)<br />

rachel.kelley@teachforamerica.org<br />

CONNECTICUT<br />

Alexys Heffernan (L.A. ’02)<br />

alexys.heffernan@teachforamerica.org<br />

D.C. REGION<br />

Zenash Tamerat<br />

zenash.tamerat@teachforamerica.org<br />

DAllas–Fort worth<br />

Lacey Pittman (G.N.O ’08)<br />

lacey.pittman@teachforamerica.org<br />

delaware<br />

Catherine Lindroth<br />

catherine.lindroth@teachforamerica.org<br />

DETROIT<br />

Amy Lybolt<br />

amy.lybolt@teachforamerica.org<br />

EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA<br />

Sara Price<br />

sara.price@teachforamerica.org<br />

GREATER NASHVILLE<br />

Brian Gilson (Memphis ’07)<br />

brian.gilson@teachforamerica.org<br />

GREATER NEW ORLEANS<br />

- LOUISIANA DELTA<br />

Jeffrey Fingerman (G.N.O. ’03)<br />

jeffrey.fingerman@teachforamerica.org<br />

GREATER PHILADELPHIA<br />

Claiborne Taylor (Houston ’02)<br />

claiborne.taylor@teachforamerica.org<br />

HAWAI‘i<br />

Jacob Karasik (New Mexico ’09)<br />

jacob.karasik@teachforamerica.org<br />

HOUSTON<br />

Shundra Cannon (Houston ’95)<br />

shundra.cannon@teachforamerica.org<br />

INDIANAPOLIS<br />

Jason Simons (E.N.C. ’08)<br />

jason.simons@teachforamerica.org<br />

jacksonville<br />

Darryl Willie (Delta ’02)<br />

darryl.willie@teachforamerica.org<br />

kansas city<br />

Ann Wiley (Charlotte ’05)<br />

ann.wiley@teachforamerica.org<br />

las vegas valley<br />

Amanda Keller<br />

amanda.keller@teachforamerica.org<br />

Los Angeles<br />

Nicole Delaney (L.A. ’98)<br />

nicole.delaney@teachforamerica.org<br />

massachusetts<br />

Deirdre Duckett (Baltimore ’93)<br />

deirdre.duckett@teachforamerica.org<br />

Memphis<br />

Nefertiti Orrin<br />

nefertiti.orrin@teachforamerica.org<br />

Metro Atlanta<br />

Ariela Freedman (Chicago ’00)<br />

ariela.freedman@teachforamerica.org<br />

miami-dade<br />

Kiesha Moodie (Houston ’08)<br />

kiesha.moodie@teachforamerica.org<br />

milwaukee<br />

Amal Muna<br />

amal.muna@teachforamerica.org<br />

Mississippi<br />

Elizabeth Harris (Delta ’05)<br />

elizabeth.harris@teachforamerica.org<br />

NEW jersey<br />

Michele Mason<br />

michele.mason@teachforamerica.org<br />

new mexico<br />

Nate Morrison (New Mexico ’08)<br />

nate.morrison@teachforamerica.org<br />

New York<br />

Craig Weiner<br />

craig.weiner@teachforamerica.org<br />

NORTHEAST ohio<br />

Holly Trifiro (Baltimore ’07)<br />

holly.trifiro@teachforamerica.org<br />

SOUTHWEST ohio<br />

Jaime Kent (D.C. Region ’08)<br />

jaime.kent@teachforamerica.org<br />

oklahoma<br />

Mary Jean “MJ” O’Malley (Oklahoma ’09)<br />

mj.omalley@teachforamerica.org<br />

Phoenix<br />

Lauren Forrester (N.Y. ’10)<br />

lauren.forrester@teachforamerica.org<br />

rhode island<br />

Rachel Greenman (Greater Newark ’06)<br />

rachel.greenman@teachforamerica.org<br />

Rio Grande Valley<br />

Militza Martinez<br />

militza.martinez@teachforamerica.org<br />

sacramento<br />

Nik Howard (Greater Philadelphia ’03)<br />

nik.howard@teachforamerica.org<br />

san antonio<br />

Anna Trigg (Metro Atlanta ’11)<br />

anna.trigg@teachforamerica.org<br />

San Diego<br />

David Lopez (Houston ’10)<br />

david.lopez@teachforamerica.org<br />

South carolina<br />

Josh Bell (Charlotte ’08)<br />

josh.bell@teachforamerica.org<br />

South DAKOTA<br />

Marion Katz (South Dakota ’07)<br />

marion.katz@teachforamerica.org<br />

South Louisiana<br />

Laura Vinsant (S. Louisiana ’07)<br />

laura.vinsant@teachforamerica.org<br />

st. louis<br />

Mallory Rusch<br />

mallory.rusch@teachforamerica.org<br />

TWIN CITIES<br />

Kyrra Rankine (N.Y. ’99)<br />

kyrra.rankine@teachforamerica.org<br />

washington<br />

Angela Burgess (Phoenix ’04)<br />

angela.burgess@teachforamerica.org<br />

Don’t see your region listed here?<br />

Contact jillian.rodde@teachforamerica.org<br />

2,398 scholars<br />

276 teachers<br />

1 mission:<br />

www.DemocracyPrep.org<br />

60 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 61


ALUMNI NOTES<br />

alumni notes<br />

Katie and Matthew Hooten (Phoenix ’02 and ’04) tied the knot at Orcas Island, Wash., on Aug. 3, 2013. They met at a Phoenix all-corps event in 2005.<br />

Katie writes: “While it wasn’t love at first sight, Teach For America events continued to bring us together year after year until we did actually fall in love.”<br />

1990<br />

Claire Bellin (N.Y.): I submit<br />

this note in loving memory<br />

of charter corps member<br />

Carleen Moreno Mora<br />

(N.Y. ’90), whose daughter<br />

continues to blossom in the<br />

New York City public school<br />

system. Carleen serves as<br />

an inspiration, especially<br />

to those in traditional<br />

public schools and those<br />

serving bilingual/bicultural<br />

populations. Sadly, she also<br />

taught us about the difficulty<br />

of diagnosing and treating<br />

rare autoimmune syndromes.<br />

Martha Galvez (L.A.): I joined<br />

TFA in 1990, and 22 years<br />

later, and I am still in the<br />

education field! Currently, I<br />

am an instructional coach in<br />

a small school in Los Angeles<br />

Unified. Though things have<br />

changed in the education<br />

field, I am still excited to<br />

come to work every day and<br />

do my part for our kids.<br />

Paul Hopkins (E.N.C.): I am<br />

in my seventh year as the<br />

science teacher for grades<br />

six through eight at The<br />

Grammar School in Putney,<br />

Vt. My two daughters come<br />

to work with me each day.<br />

After more than 23 years in<br />

the classroom, I feel more<br />

excited than ever to teach!<br />

Faye Lewis (G.N.O.): I<br />

recently earned a doctorate<br />

in educational leadership<br />

from Rowan University and<br />

am living in Somerset, N.J.,<br />

with my husband, Darren,<br />

and our daughters, Maya (8)<br />

and Alexa (7). I am looking for<br />

other educators to co-write<br />

articles on the achievement<br />

gap and the AP racial gap. If<br />

you’re interested, contact me<br />

at fayelewis01@aol.com.<br />

Ermita Metoyer (L.A.): I’m<br />

encouraged to continue the<br />

fight for academic equality<br />

every time I read an issue<br />

of One Day. Thanks to all<br />

TFA alums who are in the<br />

trenches every day. Your<br />

continued success is a<br />

constant reminder of why we<br />

do what we do. Thanks to the<br />

organization for giving me<br />

the opportunity to partner<br />

with you!<br />

Beverly Neufeld (L.A.): I am<br />

an original corps member<br />

(“OC”). I taught in Compton<br />

and Inglewood before<br />

teaching Orthodox Jews. I<br />

wrote a screenplay based<br />

on my experiences and now<br />

consult and develop films.<br />

Tom Rinaldi (N.Y.): Twenty<br />

years after leaving teaching,<br />

I’m now a correspondent for<br />

ESPN. My experience as part<br />

of TFA’s charter class was<br />

invaluable.<br />

Hayne Shumate (N.Y.):<br />

I celebrated 20 years of<br />

marriage with Katie this<br />

year. Duncan is an eighth<br />

grader (the grade I taught).<br />

TFA has thankfully made it to<br />

Fort Worth, Texas, where we<br />

reside.<br />

Nathaniel Smith (L.A.):<br />

I am living in Western<br />

Washington, where my wife<br />

Maria Jarusinsky (L.A.),<br />

and I are still teaching 23<br />

years after our charter year.<br />

I teach in an alternative<br />

middle school, and Maria<br />

teaches a dual-language<br />

kindergarten class. We have<br />

three kids, one each in high<br />

school, middle school, and<br />

elementary school.<br />

Claire Walsh (N.Y.): I have<br />

been teaching in the same<br />

New York City school since<br />

1990. I’ve gotten used to<br />

hearing students say, “You<br />

taught my Mom/Dad.” How<br />

time flies!<br />

1991<br />

Gabriel Brodbar (Houston):<br />

I continue to serve as the<br />

executive director of the NYU<br />

Reynolds Program in Social<br />

Entrepreneurship, a crossuniversity<br />

program I began<br />

in 2006.<br />

Natasha Diephuis (Houston):<br />

I am an ELD teacher at<br />

Clifton Middle School in<br />

Monrovia, Calif. I work with<br />

students who have recently<br />

immigrated from Jordan, the<br />

Phillipines, Vietnam, China,<br />

Guatemala, and Mexico. I am<br />

in my 23rd year of teaching in<br />

62 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 63


ALUMNI NOTES<br />

match.corps<br />

smooth moves By Leah Fabel (Chicago ’01)<br />

Photo by Jenny Auerbach<br />

redefine possible<br />

emily ries<br />

Practiced Teacher<br />

AP Psychology Teacher<br />

Course Leader<br />

yes prep north central<br />

Left Naima Beckles and Sam Rosaldo (both L.A. ’99) setting sail on life and love in 2001. Right The Beckles-Rosaldo clan at their Harlem home, with sons Micah<br />

(left), 2, and Gabriel, 5. “We’re conscious of not being helicopter parents, but right now, we feel like it’s the right time to spend a lot of time with our kids,” Sam says.<br />

I<br />

t was late summer of 2000, and R&B singer D’Angelo<br />

was on a wildly popular world tour. Sam Rosaldo (L.A.<br />

’99) and his buddy bought tickets for the show at the<br />

Greek Theater in Los Angeles. Two guys, four tickets. It was<br />

Sam’s job to find dates.<br />

“Naima was who I wanted to ask,” Sam says, talking about<br />

Naima Beckles (L.A. ’99). He had admired her from afar,<br />

entranced by her smile and her dance moves. “But it was gonna<br />

be hard, because I didn’t really know her, and I was interested in<br />

her.” So he asked almost every other woman he knew, with no<br />

takers. Then, he and Naima had a chance meeting at a Teach For<br />

America event, and he felt a surge of confidence.<br />

He called that evening, she said yes. “It was so Gidget! And I was<br />

a big Gidget fan,” Naima says, referring to the 1960s sitcom about<br />

a boy-crazy teen whose suitors always asked her out by phone.<br />

By the fall, they were dating and—it being L.A.—starring in a<br />

movie together. Naima’s friend was a student at the University<br />

of Southern California’s film school working on a short film<br />

about a black woman and a white man at a crossroads in their<br />

relationship. Naima and Sam got the casting call.<br />

“It was a little cheesy,” Sam admits. Naima clarifies: “It was<br />

a lot cheesy.” But both on-screen and off, the couple stuck<br />

together. (The film, unfortunately, never hit the box office.)<br />

After three years teaching in L.A.—Sam at an elementary<br />

school in Long Beach, and Naima at a high school in Watts—the<br />

couple moved to Washington, D.C. where Naima taught at a<br />

middle school for court-involved juveniles and Sam worked for<br />

D.C.’s state office of education.<br />

Taking a cue from Hollywood, the relationship saw its share of<br />

D.C. drama. Naima’s teaching job was stressful and exhausting,<br />

and Sam suffered bouts of commitment-phobia. But it was in<br />

D.C. that a mentor gave Sam advice the couple still honors: “He<br />

said, ‘When my wife and I get into an argument, we say something<br />

good is about to happen.’ That really resonated—knowing<br />

that those times when it feels hopeless, and you can’t imagine<br />

coming to a resolution—that once you do, your relationship will<br />

be stronger.”<br />

In 2004, they moved to Harlem, where Naima took a job at<br />

a middle school on the Upper West Side, and Sam earned his<br />

master’s before taking a position as a middle school teacher<br />

in the South Bronx. “We spent a lot of time on the weekends<br />

working together, planning together, and we both understood<br />

the need to go to bed early,” Naima says.<br />

They married in New York City in 2006. Today, Sam is a director<br />

for the city’s alternative schools and programs, working to<br />

transition students from jail or treatment to neighborhood<br />

schools or adult programs. Naima is a doula and childbirth<br />

educator, working partially with Harlem organizations to provide<br />

doulas for low-income women. Since 2008, she has also been an<br />

at-home mom to sons Micah, 2, and Gabriel, 5, who attends a<br />

public school four blocks from their Harlem home.<br />

D’Angelo, the R&B mega-talent who started it all, has had<br />

a tough decade. And neither Sam’s nor Naima’s acting career<br />

ever really took off. But careers spent serving kids and schools<br />

have created a happy home: “It’s been nice to have a partner<br />

more or less in step career-wise, in work that’s related, that<br />

we both understand,” Naima says. “That’s been really helpful—<br />

and fun.” <br />

WHERE GREAT TEACHERS<br />

COME TO BE EXCELLENT<br />

learn more about how yes prep is redefining possible<br />

in teacher development. visit yesprep.org/careers.<br />

64 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 65


Educating for College, Preparing for Life<br />

Show Gratitude is one of the 26 principles of A Disciplined Life®.<br />

Thank you to the Teach For America corps members and<br />

alumni who teach and transform lives at Perspectives.<br />

Become an A Disciplined Life Ambassador at Perspectives<br />

and help students develop positive self-perception,<br />

healthy relationships, and the tools for productivity.<br />

Learn more and join our team at www.pcsedu.org<br />

public, non-charter schools,<br />

and my husband and I are<br />

having fun raising our kids,<br />

Nicolas (7) and Daniella (4).<br />

Cheryline Hewitt (G.N.O.): I<br />

have a TFA mentee who was<br />

born in 1991, my first year as<br />

a teacher! I am pursuing a<br />

Ph.D. in education at Walden<br />

University.<br />

Kimberly Jacobson (L.A.): It<br />

is fun to be back at Stanford<br />

d.school as an Edu Fellow. I’m<br />

working on building creative<br />

confidence in educators so<br />

we can co-design the school<br />

system we want for the 21st<br />

century. I am prototyping this<br />

in partnership with San Mateo<br />

County School Districts and<br />

Mitzi Johnson (N.Y.): I am<br />

attending Duke Divinity<br />

School and seeking<br />

ordination as an elder in the<br />

North Carolina Conference of<br />

the United Methodist Church.<br />

Jill Joplin (Houston): I am<br />

entering my 13th year of<br />

working hard and being nice<br />

within the KIPP Team and<br />

Family.<br />

Mark Levine (N.Y.): On<br />

Sept. 10, 2013, I won the<br />

Democratic nomination<br />

for New York City Council,<br />

Seventh District.<br />

Kristina Montague (S.<br />

Louisiana): Shoutout to all<br />

of the Corps ’91 “pioneers.”<br />

Tom and I have been together<br />

for over 22 years and have<br />

two beautiful children.<br />

He has opened a butcher<br />

shop, and I am launching<br />

an angel fund supporting<br />

female-led growth ventures<br />

in the Southeast (www.<br />

thejumpfund.com). We are<br />

working with local alumni to<br />

build support to bring TFA to<br />

Chattanooga.<br />

Harry Olmstead (S.<br />

Louisiana): I was reappointed<br />

as a commissioner for the<br />

Iowa City Human Rights<br />

Commission and serve as<br />

vice chairperson. I also<br />

serve on the Johnson County<br />

Paratransit Advisory Board<br />

where I am vice chairperson.<br />

I also received the Chuck<br />

Wood Memorial Award from<br />

the Iowa Rehabilitation<br />

Association for “achieving a<br />

high level of independence,<br />

self reliance, and self<br />

sufficiency in the community.”<br />

Mark Rubin-Toles (Bay Area):<br />

One of the changes I’m most<br />

proud about at my current<br />

school is the development<br />

of a procedure that places<br />

students in advanced<br />

coursework by default,<br />

rather than erecting barriers<br />

to participation in rigorous<br />

work.<br />

Elizabeth Smith Rousselle<br />

(G.N.O.): I just celebrated<br />

my 15th year teaching<br />

Spanish and French language<br />

and literature at Xavier<br />

University of Louisiana. My<br />

husband and I are in our<br />

fifth year of a mega-longdistance<br />

marriage—I am<br />

in New Orleans, and he is<br />

at the Georgetown School<br />

of Foreign Service in Doha,<br />

Qatar.<br />

Joyce Ycasas (Houston): Still<br />

in the Bay Area!<br />

1992<br />

Tom Buffett (L.A.): I<br />

am working with state<br />

policymakers to help design<br />

supports to help leaders in<br />

low-performing, high-poverty<br />

schools in Michigan improve<br />

instruction and increase<br />

student achievement.<br />

Michael Farabaugh (R.G.V.):<br />

My wife, Kate Bancroft, and<br />

I welcomed our daughter<br />

Maeve on July 9, 2013. Big<br />

brother Silas is already<br />

teaching Dad about the<br />

adjustment.<br />

Kristen Guzman (L.A.):<br />

My husband and I officially<br />

adopted our son in July 2013,<br />

even though we’d already<br />

been a family since 2010.<br />

I’m battling lymphoma after<br />

getting the diagnosis in<br />

June 2013. I’m confident I’ll<br />

beat this!<br />

Martina Hone (Bay Area):<br />

Although no longer on<br />

Fairfax School Board, I<br />

remain committed through<br />

Coalition of The Silence to<br />

ensuring poor kids hidden in<br />

the shadows of affluence of<br />

Fairfax still have a voice and a<br />

fair chance to reach their full<br />

potential.<br />

Dennis Lee (Houston): To<br />

all the ’92 corps, especially<br />

Houston, I hope that your<br />

lives are exactly as you<br />

wish them to be. I’m living<br />

in Southern California, so<br />

contact me if you’re in<br />

the area.<br />

Todd O’Bryan (L.A.): I<br />

continue to teach computer<br />

science at my alma mater and<br />

welcome project ideas for my<br />

advanced students that would<br />

benefit other schools.<br />

Caleb Perkins (Delta):<br />

Newark Public Schools is a<br />

great place for TFA alumni<br />

to develop their talents<br />

while making a significant<br />

contribution. I hope you will<br />

consider joining the many<br />

TFA alums already engaged<br />

in our efforts to dramatically<br />

improve outcomes for this<br />

district’s students.<br />

Deepa Purohit (Baltimore):<br />

I love my job as director of<br />

voice and speech coaching<br />

at TFA. I run one-on-one<br />

coaching sessions and group<br />

workshops based on my<br />

belief that the voice is the<br />

seat of leadership. I also<br />

contract privately through<br />

my own company (Finding<br />

Your Authentic Voice) to coach<br />

education leaders to speak<br />

from their true voice about<br />

their work.<br />

V. Andres Sasson (Houston):<br />

I am a married father of<br />

two great kids, ER doctor<br />

and medical director,<br />

entrepreneur, and CrossFit<br />

junkie living in South Florida.<br />

Jennifer Swender (Houston):<br />

My newest children’s book,<br />

Count on the Subway (Knopf),<br />

will come out in spring 2014,<br />

with illustrations by Dan<br />

Yaccarino.<br />

1993<br />

Stephanie Addison-Fontaine<br />

(New Jersey): I have<br />

remained a tireless advocate<br />

for children and educational<br />

equity. I have served as a<br />

consultant, raised money,<br />

assisted new school<br />

development, and furthered<br />

my passion for learning. I’m<br />

also a mom of two bright<br />

students, married to a TFA<br />

alum, and looking to pursue<br />

my Ed.D.<br />

Laura Alluin (L.A.): After<br />

10 years teaching in Los<br />

Angeles, then 10 years as<br />

vice principal in San Diego,<br />

I am now excited to be an<br />

elementary principal with<br />

SDUSD. So far, it is going very<br />

well. I have one daughter in<br />

second grade at a Spanish<br />

immersion magnet school<br />

here in the district.<br />

Marian Bradshaw (N.Y.): I’m<br />

still teaching and working<br />

in China in a private school.<br />

I love living overseas<br />

and appreciate the travel<br />

opportunities it affords me.<br />

Sonja Cao-Garcia (L.A.): I am<br />

a mother of three beautiful<br />

children, a wife, and a<br />

principal. I am so fortunate to<br />

have this very busy, full, and<br />

wonderful life!<br />

Sarah Fain (E.N.C.): I had a<br />

baby! She’s pure bliss.<br />

Robert Hannon (D.C.<br />

Region): I serve on the<br />

board of Valor Collegiate<br />

Academies in Nashville,<br />

Tenn., as secretary. In 2013,<br />

we received a charter for a<br />

5-12 school and will open with<br />

a single fifth grade in August<br />

2014. We are in the process of<br />

building out our management<br />

team and recruiting students.<br />

Very excited about our future<br />

here in Nashville.<br />

Bryant Howard (Bay Area):<br />

I am working as a contract<br />

coach for endurance athletes<br />

in Portland, Ore. This past<br />

year we launched a new<br />

training facility and have<br />

developed multiple national<br />

champions and world<br />

championships qualifiers.<br />

Visit www.o2endurance.com<br />

for more information.<br />

Erika Lomax (D.C. Region): I<br />

was appointed as a personnel<br />

officer on Baltimore County<br />

Public Schools’ talent<br />

acquisition team.<br />

Paige Panzner-Kozek<br />

(N.Y.): I am the co-founder<br />

of smallTALLmedia.com, a<br />

creative venture that provides<br />

custom graphic design,<br />

illustration, and short films<br />

to make events unique and<br />

memorable. Our clients<br />

include private companies,<br />

nonprofits, and schools. We<br />

welcome the opportunity<br />

to work with the TFA<br />

community!<br />

Suzanne Ritter (S.<br />

Louisiana): Chris and I own<br />

a small strategy consulting<br />

firm in Bethesda, Md. As a<br />

consultant, I use visual tools<br />

and graphical facilitation<br />

practices to help groups<br />

achieve difficult conversation<br />

goals. As a coach, I help<br />

clients create an inspiring<br />

vision for themselves as<br />

leaders and help them act on<br />

being the kind of parent or<br />

leader they want to be.<br />

Joel Romero (Bay Area):<br />

Last fall, my wife and I were<br />

fortunate enough to start<br />

San Francisco Expeditionary<br />

School, a small alternative<br />

private school that hopes<br />

to balance rigorous<br />

individualized academic<br />

instruction and a strong<br />

hands-on project-based<br />

component to educating our<br />

children.<br />

Dustin Stuhr (Houston): I<br />

continue to teach special<br />

education in upstate New<br />

York, where my wife, Michelle<br />

(Houston ’94), and I are<br />

raising three children.<br />

Rita Wright (L.A.): I am<br />

currently living in West<br />

Covina, Calif., and I have<br />

worked as a literacy<br />

specialist in juvenile court<br />

schools since 2009.<br />

1994<br />

Neil Dorosin (N.Y.): I work<br />

with three economists, one<br />

of whom is the 2012 Nobel<br />

laureate, helping districts<br />

and charter partners all<br />

over the country to create<br />

universal enrollment<br />

systems.<br />

Ruth McCoy (Houston): I<br />

have started a graduate<br />

program in special education<br />

leadership.<br />

Elizabeth Patterson<br />

(R.G.V.): I currently serve<br />

as treasurer of the Houston<br />

Bar Association Labor and<br />

Employment Section and<br />

volunteer as the approved<br />

and waiting coordinator for<br />

the Houston Gladney Family<br />

Association for adoptive<br />

families.<br />

LaMarr Darnell Shields<br />

(Baltimore): Educate!<br />

Organize! Mobilize! Give back!<br />

1995<br />

ALUMNI NOTES<br />

Leslie Abrew (N.Y.): I was<br />

appointed principal of Bryant<br />

School in Teaneck, N.J.<br />

This unique school serves<br />

400 regular and specialeducation<br />

students in a pre-<br />

K/K setting. I am excited to<br />

work with this adorable group<br />

of children and lead this<br />

thriving learning community.<br />

Aaron Brenner (R.G.V.): This<br />

past summer, I transitioned<br />

from KIPP Houston to<br />

co-found and lead a new<br />

organization, The One World<br />

Network of Schools, which<br />

focuses on building a global<br />

network of transformational,<br />

breakthrough schools. As<br />

of last fall, we had partner<br />

schools operating in Mexico,<br />

India, and Israel. In the near<br />

future, partner schools will<br />

open in Chile and South Africa.<br />

66 One Day • SPRING 2014<br />

Chicago<br />

One Day • SPRING 2014 67


ALUMNI NOTES<br />

Elizabeth Cuevas (L.A.): I had<br />

my baby boy, William Gabriel,<br />

on Feb. 22, 2013. He joins big<br />

brothers Christian (10) and<br />

Nathaniel (8). My oldest son<br />

is a special education student<br />

with autism and is very<br />

smart, and my middle son<br />

has tested gifted and is also<br />

very smart! I would like TFA<br />

to work on creating strong<br />

special- education programs<br />

for children with disabilities.<br />

Erin Grace (S. Louisiana): I<br />

am the lucky, happy, sleepdeprived<br />

mother of three<br />

beautiful children, ages 7,<br />

5, and 3. I’m also a full-time<br />

newspaper columnist.<br />

Kettisha Jones (Houston): I<br />

recently relocated to Tulsa,<br />

Okla., where I oversee 11<br />

schools as an instructional<br />

superintendent. I am also<br />

a member of the inaugural<br />

cohort for TFA’s School<br />

Systems Leadership<br />

Fellowship.<br />

Kimberly Lewis (D.C.<br />

Region): I was asked to<br />

make a huge jump from<br />

kindergarten to third grade<br />

honors. My school is piloting<br />

an honors program this year.<br />

Javier Ortega (Bay<br />

Area): After working as<br />

an assistant principal at<br />

a middle school for five<br />

years, I have returned to<br />

the classroom to teach<br />

computer applications and<br />

web design classes. I love<br />

the extra time that I now<br />

enjoy with my two young<br />

children as a result of this<br />

move.<br />

Christopher Shaffer<br />

(E.N.C.): I am a school<br />

improvement coordinator<br />

for the Corry Area School<br />

District outside of Erie, Pa.<br />

I am finishing my Letter of<br />

Eligibility (superintendent/<br />

assistant superintendent<br />

certification) in Pennsylvania<br />

through Edinboro University.<br />

Jennifer Steinberger Pease<br />

(L.A.): My husband Scott<br />

and I welcomed a son, Rhys<br />

Carson Pease, on April 1,<br />

2013. Rhys joins his older<br />

brother Hayes, who is 3.<br />

1996<br />

Lesley Balta (R.G.V.): I have<br />

been a teacher for 18 years<br />

and am a mentor to a brand<br />

new teacher. I have been<br />

married for seven years and<br />

am a mother of a 4-year-old<br />

named Lucas.<br />

Jada Best (N.Y.): I am the<br />

teacher leader for science at<br />

Clearwater Middle School in<br />

the Bermuda Public School<br />

System. My daughter Aiyara<br />

also attends a public primary<br />

school. I believe that I am<br />

making a difference every day<br />

in the lives of students, and I<br />

will continue to do this work<br />

while living abroad.<br />

Jill Cohen (L.A.): I<br />

completed my doctorate in<br />

administration, planning, and<br />

social policy from the Harvard<br />

Graduate School of Education<br />

in March 2013.<br />

Patricia Dippel (Houston):<br />

I founded and run Families<br />

Empowered, which works to<br />

ensure that Houston families<br />

are empowered to engage<br />

in a marketplace of schools.<br />

We inform parents to make<br />

informed choices for their<br />

children.<br />

Sarah Fang (Phoenix): 1996<br />

alums: We’re still missing<br />

our dear friend James Foley<br />

(Phoenix ’96), who was<br />

kidnapped by an unknown,<br />

armed group while reporting<br />

from Syria. For more<br />

information, please visit<br />

www.findjamesfoley.org.<br />

Matthew Koch (Bay Area):<br />

While I do not work directly<br />

in the field of education,<br />

through my efforts as a<br />

licensed psychotherapist, I<br />

hope to offer the individuals<br />

and families with whom I<br />

work more opportunities<br />

to strengthen their<br />

own understandings of<br />

themselves, reaffirming<br />

their identities and clarifying<br />

paths they find more fitting for<br />

themselves.<br />

Vonda Orders (Houston): I<br />

am an affordable housing<br />

attorney and the general<br />

counsel for the D.C.<br />

Department of Housing and<br />

Community Development. I<br />

live in the District of Columbia<br />

with my husband and two<br />

sons, ages 9 and 8. My sons<br />

attend public school in the<br />

District of Columbia.<br />

Anna Peterson (N.<br />

Louisiana): I am the manager<br />

of data and training at Achieve<br />

Minneapolis for the STEP-<br />

UP program. STEP-UP is a<br />

job training and internship<br />

placement program for<br />

thousands of Minneapolis<br />

low-income youth.<br />

Cynthia Skinner (D.C.<br />

Region): I am just wrapping<br />

up a year as the co-chair of<br />

a design team of community<br />

volunteers developing a<br />

youth master plan for the city<br />

of Alexandria, Va., which is<br />

designed to be a framework<br />

for aligning services and<br />

efforts across the city to<br />

effectively serve the needs of<br />

children and their families.<br />

Kalin Tobler (D.C. Region): I<br />

welcomed my first child, Ruby<br />

Moon Tobler, on May 5, 2012.<br />

She is a treasure, and from<br />

her love of Post-It notes, quite<br />

probably a future teacher!<br />

I am also completing my<br />

master’s of science teaching<br />

at the Center for Science<br />

Education in Portland, Ore.<br />

1997<br />

Michael Beiersdorf (L.A.):<br />

I was selected as one of<br />

Los Angeles Unified School<br />

District’s 2013 Teachers of<br />

the Year.<br />

David Crumbine (Houston):<br />

So much of what I felt when<br />

I started teaching was the<br />

isolation on the island of<br />

education. I would love to<br />

help TFA teachers, veteran<br />

and new. Feel free to reach<br />

out—I’d be glad to help<br />

with management, lesson<br />

planning, unit planning, and<br />

introducing your passions<br />

into the classroom.<br />

Gina Desai (Phoenix): In<br />

2011, I left my position as<br />

assistant principal at Estrella<br />

Middle School and started<br />

teaching full time at Glendale<br />

Community College. From<br />

2011-2013, I continued<br />

working in schools as an<br />

aspiring principal through<br />

the Rodel organization. I<br />

also became certified in<br />

developmental education<br />

through the Maricopa<br />

Summer Institute, and I am<br />

currently on the leadership<br />

board of the Phoenix<br />

Collective.<br />

Abigail Glassenberg (Delta):<br />

I recently published my<br />

second craft book, Stuffed<br />

Animals: From Concept<br />

to Construction. I live in<br />

Wellesley, Mass., with my<br />

husband, Charlie, and our<br />

three daughters, Roxanne,<br />

Stella, and Josephine.<br />

Margaret Leaf (G.N.O.): I<br />

have the privilege of serving<br />

as assistant principal at Edna<br />

Karr High in New Orleans<br />

when I am not collaborating<br />

with my husband of seven<br />

years, super-teacher Charles<br />

68 One Day • SPRING 2014


ALUMNI NOTES<br />

WHERE WILL<br />

YOU TAKE US?<br />

JOSEPH EDELIN » HOUSTON ‘02<br />

10 TH GRADE DEAN » KIPP ATLANTA COLLEGIATE<br />

Joseph created a culturally relevant social studies curriculum<br />

that inspired his 7th grade class to engage deeply with their<br />

own African American heritage.<br />

Now he’s widening his impact as a founding leader at a new<br />

KIPP high school, building a school-wide culture that will<br />

spark a love of learning in even more students.<br />

Elissa Aten (Baltimore ’92), husband Elliott, and daughter Lindsey, 9, raced Running with Ed on<br />

May 18, 2013—a 38-mile team run and fundraiser for Park City, Utah, public schools. Elissa is<br />

also the race’s fundraising chair, and didn’t do too shabby of a job: The event pulled in $157,000.<br />

Greiner, to raise a daughter<br />

and son in Algiers, La.!<br />

Having been hard at work<br />

educating the students of<br />

my hometown for 16 blessed<br />

years now, I can tell you that<br />

the future of New Orleans<br />

looks bright indeed. Go Karr<br />

Cougars—second to none!<br />

Jill McLaughlin (L.A.): My<br />

husband and I welcomed a<br />

baby girl, Maggie Beth, in<br />

January of 2013. I recently<br />

became a school principal.<br />

Nora Olsen (Houston): My<br />

husband and I welcomed<br />

our son Benjamin Alexander<br />

Dorado Olsen last October.<br />

He will soon be a year old, and<br />

boy, has he changed our lives!<br />

I am grateful to be a stay-athome<br />

parent and to have time<br />

to reflect on what teaching<br />

and TFA has taught me about<br />

children and education.<br />

Alex Sienkiewicz (L.A.):<br />

I work for the U.S. Forest<br />

Service in the Greater<br />

Yellowstone Ecosystem, and<br />

live with my wife and three<br />

children in Livingston, Mont.<br />

Come visit!<br />

70 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 71<br />

1998<br />

Gillian Bazelon (N.Y.): I live in<br />

Philadelphia with my husband<br />

Joel and two children, Harper<br />

(8) and Trevor (6). My nonprofit<br />

organization, Investing in<br />

Ourselves, inspires positive<br />

lifestyle behavior change in<br />

underserved communities.<br />

Yuisa Davila (N.Y.): For<br />

the past three years, I am<br />

very proud to have worked<br />

with New York city and<br />

state initiatives that aim at<br />

supporting growth and raising<br />

the standards for teacher and<br />

curriculum development, as<br />

well as language learning for<br />

“new and native” students.<br />

Kelly Harris Perin (Delta):<br />

Last year I started Little<br />

Bites Coaching (www.<br />

littlebitescoaching.com). We<br />

partner with organizations,<br />

schools, and individuals (and<br />

lots of TFA alumni!) to help<br />

them work more efficiently<br />

and sustainably. Zach Perin<br />

and I also welcomed kid No.<br />

3—Millie Scout—in January<br />

2013!<br />

Stephanie Ives (N.Y.): Since<br />

leaving the position of<br />

director of education and<br />

community engagement<br />

at American Jewish World<br />

Service, I have been<br />

consulting to Repair the<br />

World and helping launch a<br />

service-learning/communityorganizing<br />

fellowship for<br />

recent college graduates.<br />

Michael Leahy (Bay Area):<br />

In the last 14 months, my<br />

wife and I were married, our<br />

son was born, and I lost my<br />

mother.<br />

MenSa Maa (D.C. Region):<br />

I am leading William Hall<br />

Academy, a pre-K-8 public<br />

school in Capitol Heights,<br />

Md. I’m still figuring out what<br />

I will be when I grow up.<br />

Shoutout to D.C. Region ’98.<br />

Erin Mathes (L.A.): I am<br />

teaching in the medical<br />

school at UCSF. Our 5-yearold<br />

just started kindergarten<br />

at the SFUSD school across<br />

the street. We are loving the<br />

community at school.<br />

Allison Ohle (N.Y.): I am<br />

living in San Diego and<br />

helping to start the first new<br />

graduate school of education<br />

in California to open in 20<br />

years. My husband and I have<br />

two awesome kids: Jackson<br />

and Anika (rhymes with<br />

Hanukkah).<br />

Kimberlee Sia (Greater<br />

Newark): My husband, 3-year<br />

old daughter, and I moved to<br />

Denver this June and couldn’t<br />

be happier! I love my new role<br />

as the executive director for<br />

KIPP Colorado. My wonderful<br />

team of leaders and teachers,<br />

many of them TFA corps<br />

members/alums, are doing<br />

great things for the students<br />

of Denver.<br />

1999<br />

Sharon Collins (N.Y.): I<br />

became a mom once again!<br />

My husband and I welcomed<br />

our second son, Mateo<br />

Joaquin, into the world on<br />

Feb. 1, 2013. We continue<br />

to reside in New York City, I<br />

teach at Bronx Prep Charter<br />

School and my older son Alexi<br />

just started kindergarten<br />

at a public school in our<br />

neighborhood.<br />

Stephanie Dean (Delta): My<br />

husband, Nathan; daughter<br />

Evelyn; and I welcomed our<br />

second child, Julian Michael<br />

Cicero, to the family in July,<br />

2013.<br />

Adele Fabrikant (N.Y.):<br />

My husband Shane and I<br />

welcomed a son named Owen<br />

on Aug. 2, 2013. His 3-yearold<br />

sister Anna and dog Riley<br />

are thrilled!<br />

Alisha Graves (D.C. Region): I<br />

co-founded and launched the<br />

OASIS Initiative, a project of<br />

the University of California,<br />

Berkeley. OASIS aims to<br />

help prevent a humanitarian<br />

catastrophe in the Sahel<br />

within our children’s lifetime<br />

through education of<br />

adolescent girls, improved<br />

access to family planning,<br />

and adapting agriculture to<br />

climate change. My husband<br />

and I have two beautiful little<br />

children.<br />

Stephanie Klupinski (L.A.):<br />

I recently changed jobs<br />

and states! I moved from<br />

Columbus, Ohio, to Honolulu.<br />

After working for three years<br />

as vice president of legal<br />

and legislative affairs for<br />

the Ohio Alliance for Public<br />

Charter Schools, I am now the<br />

organizational performance<br />

manager for the newly<br />

created State Public Charter<br />

School Commission.<br />

Mark Meier (G.N.O.): I taught<br />

elementary and high school<br />

in New Orleans with TFA, and<br />

I just wanted to let the world<br />

know that my debut novel,<br />

Wisecrack, is now out. I’m<br />

donating part of the profits to<br />

charities.<br />

Pablo Mejia (R.G.V.): I am<br />

leading the personalized<br />

learning initiatives at IDEA<br />

Public Schools, including the<br />

$31 million Race to the Top<br />

District Grant. Sylvia and I are<br />

celebrating our 10th wedding<br />

anniversary, and Daniel<br />

started middle school this<br />

year. Alejandro and Diego are<br />

both proud IDEA students.<br />

Nicole Nielson (Bay Area):<br />

I just got appointed to a<br />

three-year term on the New<br />

York City Bar Association<br />

- Education & the Law<br />

Committee—and was thrilled<br />

to find that there are three<br />

other TFA alums on the<br />

committee!<br />

Wanda Roberson (Houston):<br />

I celebrated 10 years of<br />

marriage on Nov. 22, 2013!<br />

Matthew Schmitt (G.N.O.):<br />

I’ve landed a spot in Deana<br />

Carter’s band! I play piano/<br />

keys on her new album,<br />

Southern Way of Life, which<br />

came out Thanksgiving 2013.<br />

Megan Sustar (G.N.O.):<br />

After teaching in Greater


ALUMNI NOTES<br />

New Orleans and Colorado, I<br />

returned to the St. Louis area<br />

to pursue a degree in nursing<br />

and am now a busy stay-athome<br />

mom for our three<br />

little girls. I have many fond<br />

memories of our ’99 training<br />

days in lovely Moody Towers!<br />

Hi to Aki, Joan, Mr. Powers,<br />

and the rest of our amazing<br />

summer training group.<br />

Jessica Vasan (Houston): I<br />

serve as a part-time project<br />

director at TNTP on its<br />

partnership with my original<br />

placement district, Houston<br />

ISD. I’m also fortunate to have<br />

a couple days a week with<br />

my sons (Kieran, 4, and Kyle,<br />

3) and daughter (Priya, 10<br />

months).<br />

Gregory Wong (Delta): I am<br />

still a practicing attorney<br />

in Seattle, with a focus on<br />

education, constitutional,<br />

public policy and election law,<br />

public entity, and nonprofit<br />

issues. Louise Wong (N.Y.) and<br />

I have three great kids who<br />

are now in second, fourth, and<br />

sixth grades. Life is good!<br />

2000<br />

Cheyenne Batista Sao<br />

Roque (N.Y.): We recently<br />

opened the doors to our<br />

second school, East Harlem<br />

Scholars Academy II! I’m<br />

extremely proud to broaden<br />

EHTP’s reach and build upon<br />

our legacy in the El Barrio<br />

community. Come visit!<br />

Tommy Brewer (Metro<br />

Atlanta): I was selected to<br />

co-chair one of four statewide<br />

strategic initiative teams,<br />

helping to establish the<br />

comprehensive strategic<br />

direction for the newly<br />

reconfigured After School<br />

Division of the California<br />

Department of Education.<br />

California’s After School<br />

Division administers the<br />

largest statewide allocation<br />

of out-of-school time grant<br />

dollars in the country, as<br />

well as federal 21st Century<br />

dollars.<br />

Melissa Casey (New Jersey):<br />

Xiomara Padamsee (N.Y. ’97)<br />

and I welcomed our daughter<br />

Alexandra Grace Padamsee<br />

Casey on Aug. 24, 2012. We<br />

couldn’t be more thrilled!<br />

Matthew Delfino (G.N.O.):<br />

Lizzy Holt and I relocated to<br />

Greenville, S.C., with our boys<br />

Max (3) and Clay (1). We are all<br />

enjoying the outdoors, peach<br />

season, and time with family!<br />

Nicole Dorn (Baltimore): I<br />

am excited to announce the<br />

birth of my son, Peter Dorn,<br />

and can’t believe he will be<br />

turning 1 this November! He<br />

and big sister Elinor (who will<br />

turn 4 in April) are enjoying<br />

our new house in Belmont,<br />

Mass. Please drop us a line<br />

if you’re ever in the Boston<br />

area!<br />

Amber Field (N.Y.): I am<br />

enjoying my work with<br />

KIPP NYC teachers and<br />

instructional coaches as<br />

the director of professional<br />

development opportunities.<br />

I’m also loving family time<br />

with my husband and two<br />

daughters.<br />

Ariela Freedman (Chicago):<br />

I left a faculty position at<br />

Emory University and am<br />

working for TFA as the<br />

managing director of alumni<br />

affairs in Atlanta.<br />

Anna Mae Grams-<br />

Pullappally (Chicago): I am<br />

so proud to be entering my<br />

10th year as a team leader at<br />

Chicago International Charter<br />

School-Bucktown! Last<br />

year my graduating eighth<br />

graders were the first group<br />

of kindergarteners that I<br />

worked with in 2004. My own<br />

daughter, now a third grader<br />

at CICS-Bucktown, tells me<br />

every day how lucky she is to<br />

have the best teachers in the<br />

world.<br />

Michael Herring (Bay Area):<br />

I lead efforts to improve<br />

teacher evaluation in Chicago<br />

Public Schools as director of<br />

educator effectiveness.<br />

Melissa Jones (N.Y.): I’m<br />

currently working at Adobe,<br />

building scalable systems<br />

to train teachers on creative<br />

ed-tech integration.<br />

Maya Khanna (Bay Area):<br />

My husband and I welcomed<br />

triplets into our lives on Aug.<br />

20, 2012. Our three beautiful<br />

girls are Matilda, Marietta,<br />

and Camila.<br />

Bill Kottenstette (R.G.V.):<br />

I recently took a position<br />

as executive director of a<br />

fully articulated P-12 public<br />

Montessori charter school<br />

and am constantly looking<br />

for great teachers who would<br />

love to further their impact<br />

by teaching using Montessori<br />

methods. I recently moved<br />

to Arvada with my wife Diane<br />

and our three kids, Charlotte<br />

(8), Kathleen (5), and James<br />

(5 months).<br />

Heidi Leintz (Bay Area): My<br />

husband and I welcomed our<br />

second son, Dante, in the<br />

summer of 2013.<br />

Terri Nostrand (D.C. Region):<br />

My husband and I welcomed<br />

out third son, Finn McHenry<br />

Nostrand, to the family in<br />

February 2013. When not<br />

outdoing each other for the<br />

role of baby comedians of the<br />

year, my older boys attend a<br />

Washington, D.C., Chinese<br />

immersion public charter<br />

school where several of their<br />

teachers and the assistant<br />

principal are/were TFA.<br />

Crystal Perry (Metro<br />

Atlanta): As pilot program<br />

director, I serve as the lead<br />

implementer of the summer<br />

pilot partnership between<br />

BELL, Y-USA, each local Y<br />

association and the school.<br />

At each site, teachers<br />

use methods that engage<br />

scholars, and the learning<br />

is evident in the rooms<br />

through “artifacts” on the<br />

walls, the scholar work and<br />

the excellent teacher lesson<br />

plans.<br />

Sheri Pierce (Chicago): On<br />

Oct. 10, 2013, we welcomed<br />

our second child, Trace, to<br />

our family.<br />

Carolyn Reed (D.C.<br />

Region): In February 2013,<br />

we welcomed home our<br />

daughter, Grace (1), who<br />

joined her brother Ashton (3).<br />

Cornelia Ryan (Metro<br />

Atlanta): My husband, John,<br />

and I celebrated our fouryear<br />

wedding anniversary<br />

this past October. I also got<br />

the opportunity to dance at<br />

Augusta’s Arts in the Heart<br />

Festival and in the Molate’<br />

Productions stage play When<br />

the Church Doors Close. Great<br />

things are happening with the<br />

Ryan family!<br />

Simona Supekar (L.A.): I just<br />

received my MFA in creative<br />

writing from UC Riverside<br />

and will be teaching English<br />

at Pasadena Community<br />

College in the fall. I miss a<br />

lot of my fellow ’00 corps<br />

members and hope y’all are<br />

well!<br />

Kelly Vaughan (N.Y.): I<br />

married Ivan Willig in<br />

Brooklyn, N.Y., this summer!<br />

Leslie Wang (Houston):<br />

For the last several years, I<br />

have been a program officer<br />

at Houston Endowment, a<br />

regional foundation, where<br />

my portfolio is focused on<br />

early childhood and youth<br />

development opportunities.<br />

My husband, Brian, and I are<br />

busy with work and our two<br />

girls, Olivia (4) and Evelyn (2).<br />

2001<br />

Ayana Allen (Houston): In<br />

June 2012, I was appointed<br />

post-doctoral fellow of<br />

The Urban Education<br />

Collaborative at UNC<br />

Charlotte.<br />

Diego Avila (Houston): I have<br />

started my own solo law<br />

practice after three years<br />

of law firm life. I recently<br />

successfully represented<br />

a low-income client in a<br />

potential life sentence<br />

defense trial.<br />

Brian Blacklow (Delta): I<br />

accepted a job as a master<br />

educator with District of<br />

Columbia Public Schools<br />

last year. I now have two<br />

children, Maggie (4) and Leo<br />

(1). Both are devoted Red<br />

Sox fans.<br />

Barry Brinkley (L.A.): I<br />

recently transitioned to<br />

the director of community<br />

development role at<br />

Rocketship Education.<br />

I’m excited to support<br />

the expansion efforts<br />

of Rocketship here in<br />

Washington, D.C.<br />

Fatimah Burnam-Watkins<br />

(Baltimore): I continue<br />

to work for TFA as the<br />

executive director of New<br />

Jersey! We are celebrating<br />

20 years as a region in 2014,<br />

and I’m excited for everyone<br />

to join us as we set the<br />

stage for the next five years.<br />

I continue to live in New<br />

Jersey with my husband of<br />

nine years and my 6-yearold<br />

triplets.<br />

Cassandra Duprey (Delta): I<br />

gave birth to my second son,<br />

Malcolm, in January 2013.<br />

He joins big brother Quill,<br />

born in April 2010.<br />

Joanne Forster-Coffin<br />

(L.A.): My husband and I<br />

became parents to baby Levi<br />

in April 2013.<br />

Sarah Godlove (D.C.<br />

Region): I got married<br />

about two years ago, and<br />

my husband and I welcomed<br />

our first child into the world<br />

in January 2013. After<br />

maternity leave, I returned<br />

to a new role at NWEA as<br />

the product manager of<br />

assessment. In this role,<br />

I’ll be setting the strategic<br />

vision and creating multiyear<br />

roadmaps for NWEA’s<br />

assessment portfolio.<br />

Balancing family and work<br />

is a challenge, but we’re<br />

enjoying it so far!<br />

Marianne Herrmann<br />

(Houston): Since teaching for<br />

four years at my placement<br />

school in Houston, I worked<br />

for three years on TFA’s<br />

Houston regional team,<br />

got married, joined TFA’s<br />

admissions team, and<br />

had three kiddos (Noah,<br />

Micah, and Ava). I’m really<br />

enjoying researching how<br />

to best identify qualities of<br />

highly effective teachers for<br />

students in the communities<br />

we partner with.<br />

Fatima Jibril (Baltimore):<br />

I am a proud founder and<br />

board member of Creative<br />

City Public Charter School,<br />

a progressive elementary<br />

school that focuses on the<br />

arts and project-based<br />

learning.<br />

David Kloker (New Mexico):<br />

I am working as a literacy<br />

coach in San Francisco<br />

Unified at Sanchez<br />

Elementary, still passionate<br />

about universal literacy.<br />

Julie MacFetters (G.N.O.):<br />

After five years in temporary<br />

trailers on a campus that<br />

still included the flooded<br />

former school building,<br />

my school, Akili Academy,<br />

just moved into the historic<br />

William Frantz building in<br />

New Orleans—the school<br />

Ruby Bridges helped to<br />

integrate in 1960!<br />

Heather Michel (Houston):<br />

Hello Teach For America<br />

alumni! I am happily married<br />

with two kids and living in<br />

San Diego. I just received my<br />

doctorate in education from<br />

UCSD.<br />

Elizabeth Mulligan<br />

(Chicago): My husband,<br />

Marty, daughter Maeve (12<br />

months), and I relocated<br />

to the Washington, D.C./<br />

Baltimore area this past year<br />

for Marty’s work. I am proud<br />

to be a stay-at-home mom...<br />

for now!<br />

Naomi Nunez (L.A.): I just<br />

moved to Memphis, Tenn.,<br />

from Los Angeles so my<br />

husband, Matt Seigel<br />

(L.A.), can help start some<br />

Aspire schools in the new<br />

Achievement School District.<br />

72 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 73


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Shannen Coleman Siciliano (Baltimore ’03) and her husband, Marc, welcomed baby Korina Helene Siciliano on Sept. 22, 2013. Shannen, a community<br />

organizer on behalf of Baltimore schools, was a co-finalist with Yasmene Mumby (Baltimore ’08) for the 2013 Peter Jennings Award for Civic Leadership.<br />

I just gave birth to a set of<br />

twins and will be home with<br />

the babies for a year! It’s<br />

been a busy year.<br />

Sean Ottmer (New Mexico):<br />

I, along with two other TFA<br />

alums, Katie Hulskamp<br />

(New Mexico ’05) and Tom<br />

Ponce (New Mexico ’09),<br />

have opened South Valley<br />

Academy Middle School.<br />

Ellen Sale (Delta): I am<br />

working hard and being nice<br />

every day as the founding<br />

principal of KIPP Bloom<br />

College Prep, our newest<br />

middle school in Chicago.<br />

I am very grateful to lead<br />

our incredible team. Come<br />

visit us!<br />

Margery Yeager (D.C.<br />

Region): I was thrilled to<br />

welcome a son, Jonah Henry<br />

Sriqui, on May 30, 2013. He’s<br />

looking forward to attending<br />

public school in D.C. in just a<br />

few years!<br />

2002<br />

Evan Anderson (Bay Area):<br />

In addition to leading my<br />

school through a successful<br />

accreditation process, my<br />

wife and children have also<br />

moved into a new home,<br />

which we built with Habitat<br />

for Humanity Greater San<br />

Francisco.<br />

Rosalie Asia (N.Y.): On June<br />

29, 2013, I married my best<br />

friend, Tim Stocker, in front<br />

of friends and family on the<br />

beach in Puerto Rico. We are<br />

pleased to announce that we<br />

are expecting twins in April<br />

2014!<br />

Lisa Barrett (Bay Area): I<br />

recently graduated from<br />

INSEAD Business School in<br />

Singapore, Abu Dhabi, and<br />

France. I’ve been able to do a<br />

number of engagements with<br />

small-to-medium enterprises<br />

looking to scale, as well as<br />

companies and investors<br />

entering new markets in<br />

the United Kingdom, United<br />

Arab Emirates, and United<br />

States. It’s been an incredible<br />

experience to build this global<br />

perspective and network.<br />

Elaine Berndes (Chicago):<br />

After teaching for three years<br />

in my placement school, I<br />

went on to head up recruiting<br />

at New Leaders in Chicago<br />

before being tapped to cofound<br />

what is now The Ryan<br />

Fellowship. Last year, we<br />

happily recruited TFA alumni,<br />

constituting 50 percent of our<br />

2014 Ryan Fellowship class.<br />

Full-circle moment.<br />

Nicole Bissonnette (R.G.V.):<br />

I just finished law school<br />

and, inspired by my TFA<br />

experience, will be working<br />

to promote and protect the<br />

interests of immigrants and<br />

children in a poor community<br />

in my home state.<br />

Matthew Bowman (N.Y.):<br />

After my two years, I taught<br />

at KIPP Bayview Academy<br />

with an amazing team. In<br />

2011, I cofounded EdSurge,<br />

now composed of an inspiring<br />

group of edupreneurs, and<br />

helped launch the Phaedrus<br />

Initiative, a blended, innercity<br />

Catholic school network<br />

run by some of the most<br />

dedicated people on the<br />

planet.<br />

Lindsay Butler (L.A.): I<br />

started working for New<br />

Leaders last summer as the<br />

director of the Emerging<br />

Leaders Program for<br />

Rocketship Education. I’m<br />

working with 18 assistant<br />

principals, helping to grow<br />

their leadership skills and<br />

prepare them for the next<br />

step in their careers. They<br />

are great, New Leaders<br />

is fantastic, and I’m really<br />

enjoying the work.<br />

Sarah Cole (Phoenix): My<br />

husband and I welcomed our<br />

first child, Miriam, in August<br />

2012.<br />

Peter Cook (G.N.O.): I<br />

recently led a reorganization<br />

of the Jefferson Parish Public<br />

School System outside New<br />

Orleans. I am currently<br />

working with the district<br />

to improve their lowestperforming<br />

schools and to<br />

increase the participation of<br />

low-income students in<br />

AP courses.<br />

Hillary Dark (L.A.): After<br />

12 years at my placement<br />

school, I decided to transfer<br />

to another school site. I am<br />

www.jobs-charterexcellence.org<br />

CALLING ALL<br />

ALLIES & RELATIVES<br />

We believe our students and their families are the<br />

leaders of the movement for educational equity.<br />

Teach For America-South Dakota is calling all aspiring<br />

allies and relatives to help fuel this community-driven<br />

movement. Together we can cultivate leadership<br />

among Lakota students - as they are the future leaders<br />

of their communities, tribes, and our nation. Join us.<br />

Contact Marion Katz at marion.katz@teachforamerica.org<br />

or (646) 265-4613 for more information.<br />

74 One Day • SPRING 2014


HONOR<br />

EXCELLENCE<br />

ALWAYS TRY<br />

RESPONSIBILITY<br />

TEAM<br />

Be the change.<br />

Teach.<br />

www.hiawathaacademies.org<br />

Minneapolis, MN<br />

Growing to 5 schools to close one of the<br />

largest achievement gaps in the country<br />

still proud to be a Compton<br />

Unified School District<br />

employee, but I now have<br />

less of a commute and get to<br />

see my own children more<br />

waking hours of the day! My<br />

new school has been very<br />

welcoming.<br />

Paige Dommerich Newhouse<br />

(N.Y.): My husband, Jack<br />

Newhouse, and I had our<br />

second child together, a boy<br />

named James Dommerich<br />

(J.D.).<br />

Rachel Fortune (E.N.C.): I am<br />

currently teaching online for<br />

Florida Virtual School and<br />

have seen firsthand the huge<br />

impact online learning can<br />

have for at-risk students.<br />

Roberto Garza (R.G.V.): I am<br />

seeing some amazing work<br />

being done in the Rio Grande<br />

Valley to help education<br />

become a pivotal issue for<br />

the region.<br />

Mira Goodman (Bay Area):<br />

I married Judd Goodman on<br />

July 3, 2011, in my hometown<br />

of Bloomfield Hills, Mich.<br />

Katie Brown and Joan<br />

Ferng (both Bay Area) were<br />

in attendance. I recently<br />

completed my master of<br />

science in occupational<br />

therapy, and I currently work<br />

with adults in a hospital<br />

setting and kids in an<br />

outpatient setting.<br />

Vanessa Gutierrez-Pozen<br />

(L.A.): I love my life. I am a<br />

stay-at-home mama of two<br />

beautiful spirits and am<br />

guiding them through this<br />

thing we call life. It is not<br />

glamorous, but important.<br />

I plan on ruling the world<br />

someday, but for now I am<br />

happy to support my rockstar<br />

educator of a husband,<br />

darling divas 1 and 2, Bosco<br />

and Mr. Noodles, five hens<br />

and two cocks.<br />

Kerry Hurd (Detroit): I am<br />

currently a reading and ESL<br />

teacher at Groveport Madison<br />

High School in the Columbus,<br />

Ohio area. My husband, Paul;<br />

son Nolan; and I welcomed<br />

our daughter Avery in May<br />

2013.<br />

Jenese Jones (St. Louis):<br />

I was elected to the role of<br />

commissioner for Single<br />

Member District 5B05 in<br />

Washington, D.C. I chair the<br />

governmental accountability<br />

and education committees<br />

for my commission. I beat my<br />

incumbent by 55 percent in<br />

the November 2012 election.<br />

I continue to serve my<br />

community as an educational<br />

advocate.<br />

Bejanae Kareem (Metro<br />

Atlanta): As an urban educator<br />

of 10-plus years and TFA alum,<br />

I have launched a STEM and<br />

grant education consultancy.<br />

Check out my Facebook<br />

page and receive updates on<br />

grants and STEM resources:<br />

facebook.com/bkconsultancy.<br />

Joel Latorre (Baltimore):<br />

After 11 years in the<br />

classroom serving lowincome<br />

and underprivileged<br />

students, I have attained my<br />

administrator endorsement<br />

and hope to influence my<br />

students with greater impact<br />

in the near future.<br />

Brad Leon (G.N.O.): I just took<br />

a new role as Shelby County<br />

Schools’ (formerly Memphis<br />

City Schools) chief innovation<br />

officer. I am working with<br />

schools in our district that<br />

perform in the bottom 5<br />

percent, with charter schools,<br />

and with virtual schools.<br />

Sarah Lubow (Houston): My<br />

husband, Adam Lubow, and I<br />

welcomed Emily Julia Lubow<br />

on July 30, 2013. We are all<br />

enjoying life in Brooklyn, N.Y.,<br />

and would love to hear from<br />

old friends!<br />

Emily Marques (Phoenix):<br />

My husband, Francisco, and I<br />

welcomed our first son, Mateo,<br />

on New Year’s Eve 2012.<br />

Rochelle McConico (G.N.O.): I<br />

graduated with my MBA from<br />

Hult International Business<br />

School, and now I’m the<br />

human capital manager for the<br />

Recovery School District. I’m<br />

excited about the future!<br />

Candice McKinley (Metro<br />

Atlanta): I would like to<br />

applaud my courageous TFA<br />

colleagues who are running<br />

for the Atlanta School Board:<br />

Jason Esteves (Houston<br />

’05), Matt Westmoreland<br />

(Metro Atlanta ’10), Eshé<br />

Collins (Metro Atlanta), and<br />

Courtney English (Metro<br />

Atlanta ’07), gladiators that<br />

are going to do whatever it<br />

takes to improve our system<br />

for our children.<br />

Emily Molloy (Delta): I’m<br />

thrilled to announce that I’ve<br />

just welcomed my first baby,<br />

Declan Robert Molloy.<br />

Dione Moultrie King (S.<br />

Louisiana): I received my<br />

Ph.D. in Social Work from<br />

the University of Georgia and<br />

am currently an assistant<br />

professor at the University<br />

of West Florida Department<br />

of Social Work. My husband,<br />

Steven, and I welcomed a set<br />

of twins (Langston Carter and<br />

Lauren Camille) on August<br />

29, 2011.<br />

Joey Murphy (St. Louis): I have<br />

just begun my ninth year of<br />

teaching, and I cannot imagine<br />

pursuing any other profession.<br />

Thanks, TFA!<br />

Ambe Olinga (Metro Atlanta):<br />

I am the coordinator of STEM<br />

for 27 schools in South Fulton<br />

County.<br />

Kelley Pomis (E.N.C.): In the<br />

past four years, I married my<br />

TFA sweetheart Aaron Pomis<br />

(E.N.C.), bought a home in<br />

Charlotte, N.C., and we now<br />

have had two beautiful boys,<br />

Nicholas (almost 2 years) and<br />

Alexander (3 months).<br />

Michael Ripski (G.N.O.): My<br />

wife, Morgan, and I had our<br />

first child, Clyde Michael<br />

Ripski, on July 8, 2013.<br />

Nathaniel Schwartz (Delta):<br />

Seneca Rosenberg (Bay Area<br />

’01) and I just welcomed our<br />

second child to our family. We<br />

live in Nashville, Tenn., where<br />

I work for the Tennessee<br />

Department of Education.<br />

Alison Smith (L.A.): We were<br />

thrilled to welcome our son<br />

Matalino on Jan. 3, 2012!<br />

Adie Tate (Metro Atlanta): My<br />

husband, Ian, and I welcomed<br />

our second child, Owen<br />

Michael, on Oct 26, 2013.<br />

Big brother Henry is thrilled<br />

with the new addition to the<br />

family. Ian is working as an<br />

emergency medicine physician<br />

at North Colorado Medical<br />

Center, and I left TFA staff<br />

after five years to stay home<br />

with the boys. We are living in<br />

Denver and loving it!<br />

Justin Vernon (E.N.C.):<br />

My wife, Amy, and I have<br />

two children (Jackson and<br />

Stella) and currently reside<br />

in Salem, Mass. I am the<br />

founding principal of the Roger<br />

Clap Innovation School in<br />

Dorchester, opened in 2011.<br />

Lena-Prudence Wiegand<br />

(L.A.): I love getting the<br />

magazine — it helps me stay<br />

in touch with issues regarding<br />

education.<br />

Rebecca Williams (Metro<br />

Atlanta): We recently<br />

Public Schools<br />

76 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 77


ALUMNI NOTES<br />

Candy Crush? Angry Birds? LOLCats? Whatever it is, these kids are thrilled. When Kathrin Petzold (Phoenix ’01) isn’t busy wowing youngsters with her<br />

iPhone, she’s a pediatric nurse supervisor with Doctors Without Borders. Petzold is currently working in the Democratic Republic of Congo.<br />

welcomed a daughter to our<br />

family!<br />

Jodi Yoser (E.N.C.): My<br />

husband Jon and I welcomed<br />

our second child, Andrew, on<br />

April 29, 2013.<br />

2003<br />

Ramiro Arceo (Baltimore):<br />

I am currently the director<br />

of family and community<br />

engagement for the<br />

California Charter Schools<br />

Association. My role is<br />

to organize and mobilize<br />

parents to support their<br />

charter schools.<br />

Patricia Baney (Metro<br />

Atlanta): My husband, Greg;<br />

son William; and I welcomed<br />

James Daniel to our family on<br />

Oct. 7, 2013.<br />

Ben Bhatti (Metro Atlanta):<br />

I am the producer of<br />

eduCAUTION, a documentary<br />

on college, debt, and<br />

the American dream.<br />

eduCAUTION has almost<br />

150,000 views on YouTube<br />

and 7,000 Facebook followers<br />

and will debut at SXSWedu in<br />

Austin, Texas.<br />

Joseph Bielecki (Bay Area):<br />

In August of 2013 I opened<br />

Summit Public School:<br />

Denali, a next-generation<br />

grades 6-12 school serving<br />

students in the Bay Area<br />

as part of the network of<br />

Summit Public Schools.<br />

Denali opened with a<br />

founding class of 134 sixth<br />

graders, and we’re excited<br />

about our growth to come.<br />

Peter Buis (Delta): I have two<br />

sons (3 and 2). I am a better<br />

parent because of teaching.<br />

Also, I feel that I am a better<br />

teacher because of being a<br />

parent.<br />

Andrew Calcutt (N.Y.):<br />

You do not have to be the<br />

smartest person in the room<br />

to become extraordinarily<br />

successful. But you do have<br />

to work extraordinarily hard.<br />

And if you can find a passion<br />

for learning, that work will<br />

not feel that hard.<br />

Tanya Cornely (Greater<br />

Philadelphia): My husband,<br />

Kieran, and I welcomed twin<br />

boys on April 30, 2013. Sean<br />

and Grady join their sister<br />

Olivia and brother Quinn in<br />

our love.<br />

Tina DeLaFe (Miami-Dade):<br />

I am a literacy coach at<br />

SouthTech Academy in<br />

Palm Beach County and<br />

an instructor/training<br />

facilitator at FAU for SAT,<br />

GMAT, and GRE test prep<br />

courses in math, verbal,<br />

and writing. I am leading the<br />

transition to Common Core<br />

in all subject areas at my<br />

school site.<br />

Maria Dunlap (Metro Atlanta):<br />

My husband and I welcomed a<br />

daughter in October 2011.<br />

Tamilla Eldridge-Mason<br />

(N.Y.): I am excited to share<br />

that I recently finished<br />

my second master’s in<br />

educational leadership and<br />

I am looking forward to new<br />

adminstrative opportunities.<br />

As a wife and mother of two,<br />

this was quite a challenge,<br />

but I enjoyed the journey. The<br />

learning process never ends,<br />

and this is also what we want<br />

for our students.<br />

Christine Fowler (N.Y.): We<br />

are in Costa Rica, and I’m still<br />

working in education, just on<br />

the publishing side of things.<br />

Still, with four kids at home,<br />

my classroom management<br />

experience is coming in handy!<br />

Vanessa Garza (L.A.): My<br />

husband, Pablo Garza (N.Y.<br />

’02), and I proudly send<br />

our oldest, Vida, to our<br />

neighborhood public school<br />

for kindergarten. Julian,<br />

her little brother, is eager to<br />

join her.<br />

Megan Gibbs (Houston):<br />

Ben Gibbs (Houston) and<br />

I are living in Houston and<br />

are proud parents to our<br />

2-year-old twins, Abby<br />

and Henry. I am dean of<br />

instruction at YES Prep East<br />

End and just finished my<br />

fifth year with this amazing<br />

organization.<br />

Susannah Gordon-Messer<br />

(E.N.C.): My team at MIT<br />

just released The Radix<br />

Endeavor, a massively<br />

multiplayer online game<br />

to help teach biology and<br />

math. Sign up to play at<br />

radixendeavor.org!<br />

78 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 79


ALUMNI NOTES<br />

Developing Leaders<br />

in Public Service<br />

John Glenn School<br />

of Public Affairs<br />

Gain practical, professional experience that will help kick-start your<br />

career in public service by earning an M.P.A., M.A. or Ph.D. from the<br />

John Glenn School of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University.<br />

For more information about the Glenn School’s partnership with<br />

Teach For America visit glenn.osu.edu or call 614-292-8696.<br />

JOHN GLENN SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS<br />

Daniel Grissom (E.N.C. ’08), in glasses, spent the 2012-13 academic year teaching language arts at Heritage International School in Kampala, Uganda.<br />

thE Educational rEvolution has<br />

comE to dEtroit<br />

You want to grow, lead,<br />

change the world.<br />

Alexander Guevara (L.A.):<br />

I was recently engaged to<br />

Rachel Kerr (L.A. ’04). I<br />

recently accepted a position<br />

as talent recruiter for TEAM<br />

Schools, focusing on our<br />

expansion into Camden, N.J.<br />

Jennifer Hembrick-Roberts<br />

(Chicago): I gave birth to my<br />

daughter, Nia, in June 2012.<br />

My article, “Leadership for<br />

More Equitable Schools<br />

through Service Integration,”<br />

was recently published in the<br />

Handbook of Research on<br />

Educational Leadership for<br />

Equity and Diversity.<br />

William Heuisler (L.A.): I<br />

got married to Dr. Latoya<br />

Green-Smith in March 2013.<br />

I teach in South Los Angeles,<br />

and my wife is a pediatrician<br />

in Wilmington, Calif.<br />

Carrie Holmes (Baltimore):<br />

2012-2013 brought me<br />

80 One Day • SPRING 2014<br />

two kindergarteners of<br />

my own who force me to<br />

sit on the other side of the<br />

teacher’s desk and trust<br />

the educational wisdom and<br />

knowledge of someone else to<br />

challenge and inspire my kids.<br />

It has been humbling and<br />

excruciating. Looking forward<br />

to first grade this year.<br />

Marcus Hughes (Metro<br />

Atlanta): So why do I Teach<br />

For America? I teach because<br />

poverty, educational inequity,<br />

racial, sexual and physical<br />

discrimination are all too<br />

prevalent. I teach because I<br />

have two beautiful boys who<br />

look like Trayvon Martin.<br />

I teach because I was that<br />

black kid from the inner city<br />

who utilized the pathway of<br />

education to open doors of<br />

opportunity. As an alum, I still<br />

Teach For America because<br />

I can’t stop fighting for our<br />

children.<br />

Stuart Johnston (Baltimore):<br />

I was accepted to the North<br />

Carolina Principal Fellows<br />

Program, and I am working<br />

toward my master’s degree in<br />

school administration at UNC<br />

Greensboro.<br />

Elizabeth King (Greater<br />

Philadelphia): After 71/2<br />

wonderful years working for<br />

my kids’ representative in<br />

Congress, I am now working<br />

for the Children’s Defense<br />

Fund—new location, same<br />

mission. I have had the<br />

chance to reconnect with<br />

some of my awesome longago<br />

middle schoolers. Blown<br />

away by all that they’re doing<br />

now as adults!<br />

Kate Lipper-Garabedian<br />

(Metro Atlanta): My husband<br />

and I moved back to the<br />

Boston area last fall after<br />

three years in D.C.—with two<br />

new members (5-month-old<br />

Harrison and our cockapoo<br />

Baryn) in tow. I’m continuing<br />

to work in education law and<br />

policy with EducationCounsel<br />

LLC.<br />

Maile Martinez (Phoenix):<br />

In September, I started<br />

a new job as YouthSpark<br />

engagement manager<br />

at Microsoft. I will be<br />

traveling around the country<br />

connecting educators and<br />

education influencers to<br />

YouthSpark programs. I hope<br />

to connect with lots of TFA<br />

alumni, corps members, and<br />

staff! Check out microsoft.<br />

com/youthspark to learn<br />

more.<br />

Kathleen Masterson<br />

(Phoenix): Since my TFA<br />

days, I’ve become a public<br />

radio journalist, telling<br />

people’s stories, mostly<br />

about science, environment,<br />

and social justice issues. I<br />

work hard to stay involved<br />

in classrooms, teaching<br />

occasional workshops with<br />

826 in D.C. and at several<br />

universities.<br />

Anna McCartney-Melstad<br />

(New Mexico): I’m based in<br />

Johannesburg, working on<br />

malaria control throughout<br />

Africa.<br />

Stacey Mitchell (E.N.C.):<br />

Joining her brothers Solomon<br />

(4) and Mason (2), Theresa<br />

Saige made her debut in our<br />

family on May 19, 2013!<br />

Marlin Padilla (N.Y.): This<br />

year my son turned 1 and it<br />

has been an absolute thrill to<br />

watch him grow and develop<br />

his very own personality!<br />

Jimmy Pascascio (L.A.):<br />

I recently took a leave of<br />

absence from the classroom<br />

to focus on Music Notes, an<br />

wanted:<br />

Strongly committed<br />

school leaders and<br />

teachers for elementary<br />

and high school teams<br />

Visit the EmploymEnt opportunitiEs<br />

page on our website at<br />

americanpromiseschools.org<br />

Making Urban Schools Great<br />

We make it possible.<br />

• Individualized coaching, ongoing professional<br />

development, Aspiring Leaders program<br />

• Joyful environment, intellectually rigorous curriculum<br />

• Opportunities at seven, K-8 college-preparatory<br />

charter schools<br />

• Beautiful, privately-leased facilities in Brooklyn, NY<br />

Learn more at ascendlearning.org<br />

asc e nd


ALUMNI NOTES<br />

Maggie [Pettit] Kizer (Colorado ’09) married Lyle Kizer on Aug. 24, 2013, in Seattle. The<br />

wedding followed a turbulent week marked by the loss of Maggie’s father to cancer.<br />

education music company<br />

that I founded with a<br />

colleague. We use music to<br />

make students love math<br />

by creating songs and<br />

music videos aligned to the<br />

Common Core.<br />

Rebecca Purtell (Greater<br />

Philadelphia): Ten years<br />

ago, two corps members<br />

and I found ourselves lost<br />

in the Kensington area of<br />

Philadelphia trying to find our<br />

placement school. Today, my<br />

husband and I own a house<br />

and proudly call Kensington<br />

home.<br />

Diane Reis (S. Louisiana):<br />

I am enjoying a year as<br />

chief resident in Dallas and<br />

recently married the love of<br />

my life. I was honored to have<br />

fellow S. Louisiana corps<br />

members Marisa Wolf (’02)<br />

and Bo Hilty at our wedding.<br />

Erica Rounsefell (D.C.<br />

Region): I am a foreign<br />

service officer for the U.S.<br />

Agency for International<br />

Development, currently<br />

serving a yearlong tour in<br />

Kabul, Afghanistan, where<br />

I am working on technical<br />

education development for<br />

Afghan youth.<br />

Allison Scheff (G.N.O.): I<br />

joined the Massachusetts<br />

Department of Higher<br />

Education to lead the<br />

Commonwealth’s statewide<br />

interagency STEM initiative<br />

as the executive director of<br />

STEM and of the Governor’s<br />

STEM Advisory Council.<br />

Leslie Shaw-McGee (New<br />

Jersey): This year I stepped<br />

into the instructional<br />

specialist role after teaching<br />

third and fourth grade for<br />

nine years. This is my first<br />

step into an administrative<br />

role that I hope will segue<br />

into an assistant principal<br />

role once I complete my<br />

administration program in<br />

January.<br />

Carrie Spaulding (Phoenix):<br />

After nine years in the<br />

classroom, I now help<br />

parents and educators with<br />

communication, building<br />

a positive and inclusive<br />

home or school culture,<br />

and helping children build<br />

resilience. Known as The<br />

Thirtysomething Coach, I<br />

also specialize in helping<br />

thirtysomethings who aren’t<br />

who or where they want to<br />

be with their relationships,<br />

careers, and lives (www.<br />

carriespaulding.com).<br />

Cara Volpe (Houston): At the<br />

end of 2012 I left New York<br />

City and the world of fulltime<br />

employment to live in<br />

Brazil for an extended period<br />

of time and to travel the<br />

world—something I’ve been<br />

talking about for years! What<br />

a learning experience, in so<br />

many ways.<br />

Bernard Weber (Delta):<br />

Kelly and I married in 2008<br />

and have two boys, Teddy<br />

(4) and Luke (2). I became<br />

the assistant principal at<br />

Williamston Middle School<br />

this fall.<br />

2004<br />

Mahesh Alur (Chicago): My<br />

wife and I had our son, Toby,<br />

in January 2013! He is such<br />

a joy!<br />

Steve Bartha (S. Louisiana):<br />

Elena Forzani (S. Louisiana)<br />

and I, of New Hartford, Conn.,<br />

are happy to announce the<br />

birth of our daughter, Giuliana<br />

Karen Bartha, at 12:33 a.m.<br />

on November 3, 2013. The<br />

little bundle of joy weighed<br />

6 lbs 7 oz. and measured 19<br />

inches long. Guiliana is our<br />

first child.<br />

Lori Baxter (R.G.V.): In<br />

August I began my new<br />

position as rehabilitation<br />

director for Hillside Health<br />

Care International in<br />

Southern Belize. Besides<br />

treating patients in the clinic,<br />

villages, and homes, I will be<br />

leading disability awareness<br />

presentations in elementary<br />

schools throughout the<br />

district. I recently led a<br />

workshop for preschool<br />

teachers on how to effectively<br />

instruct children with special<br />

needs.<br />

Alex Breland (Chicago): On<br />

June 23, 2013, my beautiful<br />

wife, Elizabeth Todd-Breland,<br />

gave birth to my beautiful<br />

daughter, Natalie Juanita<br />

Breland.<br />

Kelly Cassaro (N.Y.): My<br />

husband, Michael, and I<br />

welcomed James Porter<br />

Cassaro on Feb. 25, 2013,<br />

with love and gratitude in<br />

Brooklyn, N.Y.<br />

Lisa Coleman (Charlotte):<br />

My husband, Donald Curtis,<br />

and I are happy to announce<br />

the birth of our first child,<br />

Langston Isaiah Curtis, on<br />

Sept. 2, 2013.<br />

Jonathan Cosner (Houston): I<br />

am a mental health counselor<br />

serving low-income clients<br />

throughout the Columbus,<br />

Ohio area. My wife, Helen<br />

McClaugherty Cosner<br />

(R.G.V.), is currently happily<br />

teaching sixth grade reading/<br />

language arts at Gahanna<br />

Middle School South.<br />

Laura Cummings (Chicago):<br />

I was recently named<br />

the managing director of<br />

program for the Chicago<br />

region of OneGoal.<br />

Rina Deshpande (N.Y.): In<br />

2012, I finally self-published<br />

my first children’s book,<br />

inspired by my former<br />

students who were boldly<br />

learning English while<br />

mastering third grade<br />

concepts, by my beautiful<br />

Indian-American family and<br />

by my loving dog, Sasha. It’s<br />

called Cupcake. More<br />

to come!<br />

Holly Maria Flynn Vilaseca<br />

(Houston): I graduated<br />

with my M.A. in socialorganizational<br />

psychology<br />

from Columbia in May 2013<br />

and assumed a new role<br />

as senior implementation<br />

researcher at K12 Inc.<br />

Maria Garner (Houston): In<br />

early October 2013, Greeni<br />

Recycling, the Houston-based<br />

event recycling company I<br />

co-own with my husband,<br />

diverted 8 tons of recycling<br />

from the landfill at Original<br />

Greek Festival.<br />

Michael Green (N.Y.):<br />

Opportunity continues to<br />

peek its head around the<br />

corner. I was promoted to a<br />

supervising attorney at my<br />

company and am anticipating<br />

more growth to come!<br />

Elliott Hood (Las Vegas):<br />

Beginning in April 2014, I<br />

will serve a one-year legal<br />

clerkship for Judge Robert<br />

Bacharach on the Tenth<br />

Circuit Court of Appeals<br />

in Oklahoma City. My wife,<br />

Caroline Hult (Las Vegas),<br />

a vice president on TFA’s<br />

admissions team, and I will<br />

relocate to Oklahoma City<br />

from our current home in<br />

Colorado.<br />

William Jenkins (Metro<br />

Atlanta): I finally found the<br />

time to go back to school<br />

myself. I’m currently<br />

82 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 83


getting my MBA from the<br />

Wharton School of Business<br />

through their program<br />

for executives while also<br />

continuing my work as White<br />

House liaison for the Obama<br />

Administration.<br />

Meghan Kelly (Baltimore):<br />

I work as an engineer to<br />

help “Keep Tahoe Blue,”<br />

as a regional coordinator<br />

for SheJumps.org getting<br />

more women outside, and<br />

as a semi-professional skier<br />

appearing in the Pretty Faces<br />

movie in 2014!<br />

Meg Lally (G.N.O.): G.N.O.<br />

2004: We are having a 10-year<br />

reunion in June for our corps<br />

in New Orleans. Save the<br />

date!<br />

Saniya LeBlanc (D.C. Region):<br />

I finally got my Ph.D. in<br />

mechanical engineering<br />

and am returning to D.C.<br />

as an assistant professor<br />

at The George Washington<br />

University.<br />

Benjamin Lev (N.Y.): I am<br />

currently serving as a New<br />

Leaders resident principal in<br />

Corona, Queens, and looking<br />

forward to opening a new<br />

school next year. If anyone<br />

would like to be part of the<br />

founding team, please contact<br />

me at BenjaminGLev@gmail.<br />

com. Thank you!<br />

Anna Maldonaldo (Houston):<br />

Since I left teaching, I had<br />

a second child—a boy. And<br />

because of the age difference<br />

with my first child, I spent<br />

last year juggling having a<br />

kindergartener and a high<br />

school senior ... whew! This<br />

past August, I proudly (and<br />

sadly) sent my first child to<br />

UT in El Paso, Texas, while my<br />

son is proudly in first grade,<br />

where he doesn’t have to take<br />

naps.<br />

Emma McCandless<br />

(R.G.V.): I am back in the<br />

classroom after relocating<br />

to Connecticut and am<br />

loving teaching eighth grade<br />

composition at Achievement<br />

First in Hartford!<br />

Eva Miles (L.A.): 2013 was a<br />

year of checking off goals. I<br />

completed my doctorate in<br />

May (teacher education in<br />

multicultural societies) and<br />

got promoted as an assistant<br />

principal in August. I packed<br />

and purged many teachingrelated<br />

files. It has been a<br />

challenging and thrilling<br />

journey so far. Next goal:<br />

finding balance.<br />

Tolulope Noah (L.A.): I<br />

earned my doctorate in<br />

education from USC last year<br />

and completed my ninth year<br />

as a classroom teacher (fifth<br />

and sixth grade). I am now a<br />

full-time college professor<br />

at Azusa Pacific University,<br />

where I teach and prepare<br />

future teachers. I also started<br />

a personal blog called “Office<br />

Hours,” where fashion,<br />

faith, and education meet:<br />

officehoursblog.tumblr.com.<br />

Efe Osagie-Odeleye<br />

(Houston): Since my days<br />

in Houston back in 2004, I<br />

have developed my career in<br />

global philanthropy. I am now<br />

a happily married mother of<br />

one living in Lagos, Nigeria,<br />

and working to enhance<br />

educational opportunities for<br />

the nation’s youth.<br />

Akshai J. Patel (Phoenix):<br />

Alumni-founded Phoenix<br />

Collegiate Academy, the<br />

first “no excuses” charter<br />

school in Arizona, has grown<br />

since 2009 and is now on the<br />

verge of realizing its vision to<br />

provide disadvantaged South<br />

Phoenix students a K-tocollege<br />

pathway.<br />

Tianay Perrault (Metro<br />

Atlanta): I am currently in<br />

my final course working<br />

toward my doctor of<br />

education leadership with<br />

a concentration in teacher<br />

leadership. My future<br />

aspirations are to work<br />

on teacher professional<br />

development and curriculum<br />

development with a focus on<br />

instructional technology at<br />

the district office level.<br />

Samantha Pownall (E.N.C.):<br />

I am now an adjunct<br />

professor of law at New<br />

York Law School, where I<br />

teach an education law and<br />

policy clinic with a focus on<br />

representing students who<br />

have been suspended and<br />

arrested from public schools<br />

in New York City.<br />

Jesse B. Rauch (D.C.<br />

Region): I completed my<br />

first year as the executive<br />

director of the D.C. State<br />

Board of Education in<br />

November 2013. I expect to<br />

continue working on issues<br />

affecting all students in the<br />

District of Columbia.<br />

Marissa Rowley (Charlotte):<br />

My husband, Travis Rowley<br />

(Charlotte), and I happily<br />

welcomed our first baby,<br />

Layla Charlotte, on Aug. 6,<br />

2013.<br />

Colin Seale (D.C. Region): I<br />

am now an associate attorney<br />

at the Las Vegas office of<br />

Greenberg Traurig, LLP. My<br />

practice focuses on litigation,<br />

intellectual property, and<br />

charter school public bond<br />

finance.<br />

David Small (L.A.): I had a<br />

baby girl this year with my<br />

wife, Liz!<br />

Laura Swartz (Delta): My<br />

husband and I now live in<br />

Portland, Ore., and we have<br />

a baby boy named Jack. I<br />

am a licensed attorney in<br />

Oregon, and I’m working as<br />

a mediator, facilitator, and<br />

the primary caregiver for<br />

our baby. We live just down<br />

the street from Lucy Amory<br />

(Delta ’04), her husband,<br />

Robby, and their little baby<br />

girl!<br />

Lauren Taiclet (N.Y.): I<br />

married Raymond Canada<br />

(N.Y. ’02) on July 7, 2012.<br />

We met while teaching in<br />

Washington Heights.<br />

Kelly Weatherby (Houston):<br />

The college version of<br />

myself would be bemused to<br />

know that, as of December,<br />

I am officially an army<br />

wife. I recently relocated<br />

to Fayetteville, N.C., to live<br />

with my fiancé, Adam, who<br />

is stationed at Fort Bragg.<br />

I spent the last five years in<br />

Brooklyn, N.Y., working at<br />

different points for TNTP, the<br />

New York City Department of<br />

Education, and TFA.<br />

Shannon Wheatley (R.G.V.):<br />

My wife, Lara, and I welcomed<br />

Caroline Sofia Wheatley into<br />

our family last May. We love<br />

her very much!<br />

Kristen Zenobia (R.G.V.):<br />

I married the man of my<br />

dreams on Oct. 27, 2012!<br />

2005<br />

Joseph Almeida (N.Y.): I<br />

became an advisory board<br />

member for the America<br />

Achieves Fellowship for<br />

Teachers and Principals, a<br />

national fellowship of about<br />

100 effective teachers and<br />

principals.<br />

Jeffrey Becker (Houston): My<br />

wife Kate and I welcomed our<br />

first child, Augustus, into the<br />

world last summer.<br />

Matthew Bragman (L.A.): On<br />

Sept. 17, 2013, my wife and I<br />

welcomed a beautiful baby<br />

girl. We could not be happier<br />

to have little Molly Elizabeth<br />

Bragman in our lives.<br />

Hunter Brown (S. Louisiana):<br />

I recently married Tiffany<br />

Compagno (S. Louisiana<br />

’10), and we have both<br />

started pursuing master’s<br />

of educational leadership<br />

degrees at LSU.<br />

Isaac Cardona (Houston): I<br />

had the opportunity to work<br />

and graduate with some<br />

amazing Teach For America<br />

alumni in my Summer<br />

Principal’s Academy cohort at<br />

Columbia. (Aja Settles [New<br />

Jersey ’04], Lander Arrieta<br />

[Miami-Dade ’08], Amanda<br />

Hageman [Houston], Juliana<br />

Worrell [New Jersey ’04],<br />

Paul Chin [L.A. ’06], Kevyn<br />

Bowles [N.Y. ’09], Annette<br />

de la Llana [D.C. Region ’02],<br />

Jessica Azani [N.Y. ’09], and<br />

Jess Deimel [Mid-Atlantic<br />

’08], to name a few).<br />

Caitlin Coe (N.Y.): I married<br />

Peter Coe (N.Y.) on Aug. 17,<br />

2013.<br />

Susan Crandall (N.Y.): I<br />

moved to State College,<br />

Penn., to pursue a Ph.D. in<br />

School Psychology at Penn<br />

State University. I also gave<br />

birth to a baby boy, Noah, last<br />

August!<br />

Elizabeth Dooley (R.G.V.): I’m<br />

working at an environmental<br />

think tank in Berlin,<br />

Germany, on agricultural,<br />

environmental and climate<br />

change policy issues in the<br />

European Union.<br />

Laura Draper (R.G.V.): My<br />

son, Atticus William Draper,<br />

was born July 5, 2013.<br />

Lauren Evans (D.C. Region):<br />

I am a foster parent to three<br />

kids.<br />

Jessica Forman (Houston):<br />

After eight years in the field<br />

of education, I am excited to<br />

report that I have returned to<br />

school. I am looking forward<br />

to expanding my skills,<br />

knowledge and network in<br />

my Leadership at Education<br />

Performance program at<br />

Vanderbilt University.<br />

Tanya Franklin (L.A.): In<br />

May I graduated from UCLA<br />

School of Law, and I currently<br />

serve as the inaugural<br />

education law public service<br />

fellow. My placement is with<br />

Mental Health Advocacy<br />

Services, where I represent<br />

kids in special education<br />

and discipline matters. I<br />

also support and monitor<br />

the implementation of<br />

restorative justice (RJ) at a<br />

few schools in LAUSD, as our<br />

district moves to RJ in all<br />

schools by 2020.<br />

Jennifer Freeman (Metro<br />

Atlanta): I recently received<br />

the Harriet Ball for<br />

Excellence in Teaching Award<br />

at KIPP National Summit in<br />

Las Vegas.<br />

Whitney Gibbs (Metro<br />

Atlanta): I have been<br />

practicing criminal defense<br />

for a few years now. I<br />

recently accepted a position<br />

with the Flint Circuit<br />

Public Defender’s Office<br />

in McDonough, Ga. I am<br />

married and have a 7-month<br />

old daughter.<br />

Kathryn Hansen (Phoenix): I<br />

am currently working on my<br />

Ph.D. in anthropology with a<br />

focus on education’s impact<br />

on the identity of language<br />

minority students.<br />

Brenda Hatley (Greater<br />

Philadelphia): I married my<br />

love of three years, Justin<br />

Hatley, in November 2012<br />

and joined him in Seattle,<br />

where I am now teaching<br />

kindergarten!<br />

Jared Hove (Delta): I’m<br />

excited to be serving as<br />

senior director of partner<br />

engagement at Teach For All,<br />

working with organizations<br />

in the Middle East, South<br />

Asia, and Africa. My wife,<br />

Anna Mims (Delta ’04), and I<br />

welcomed our daughter Celia<br />

to our family this past May.<br />

Elaine Hume (G.N.O.): After<br />

12 years in New Orleans, I<br />

moved back to my hometown<br />

of Charleston, S.C., in June<br />

and got engaged in August.<br />

I’m looking forward to new<br />

career opportunities and a<br />

Charleston wedding!<br />

Philonda Johnson<br />

(Houston): I am excited to<br />

celebrate my fifth year as a<br />

Founding Principal at KIPP<br />

DC: Discover Academy.<br />

Last August, I earned my<br />

M.S. in leadership from<br />

Northeastern University CPS.<br />

In January 2014, I began my<br />

Ed.D. work in organizational<br />

leadership at Northeastern<br />

University CPS.<br />

Kristen Kell (Greater<br />

Philadelphia): I got married<br />

to Matthew Hittenmark, who<br />

I met teaching, on Aug. 24,<br />

2013.<br />

Colin Kikuchi (Phoenix): I got<br />

married in March 2013, and<br />

life is great! Working hard to<br />

finish my Ph.D. dissertation.<br />

Jessica Kresevic (Charlotte):<br />

In June 2013, I accepted<br />

a full-time role as an<br />

effectiveness coach at TEACH<br />

Charlotte. Recently, I was<br />

able to coach an eighth grade<br />

teacher who teaches some<br />

of the same students from<br />

my third grade class in 2007.<br />

It is great to know that I’m<br />

still working to provide my<br />

previous students with an<br />

excellent education!<br />

Nate Lischwe (St. Louis): I got<br />

married to Rebekah Reimer<br />

(St. Louis ’10) on July 5, 2012.<br />

We were joined by joined<br />

by many family members,<br />

friends and loved ones,<br />

including a large number of<br />

people from the Teach For<br />

America community.<br />

Tyler Malotte (L.A.): I still<br />

love Sara Te (L.A.) and<br />

assume the feeling is still<br />

mutual.<br />

Julia Massey (N.Y.): My band<br />

released its third record this<br />

year and logged over 8,000<br />

miles on tour so far!<br />

Charles McClelland (S.<br />

Louisiana): In September<br />

2013 I received my master’s<br />

degree in mechanical<br />

engineering from UMass<br />

Amherst.<br />

Holly Meyer (D.C. Region):<br />

My husband, Eric, and big<br />

brother Matt welcomed Henry<br />

into our family last summer.<br />

Shari Moseley (L.A.): Hi class<br />

of 2005! I am so happy to say<br />

hello. Shoutout to all future<br />

TFAers! I’m doing well and<br />

would love to hear from you<br />

sometime.<br />

Crischelle Navalta (R.G.V.):<br />

Congratulations to my dear<br />

friend Jenny Corroy (R.G.V.<br />

’04) on her TFA Teaching<br />

Excellence Award and<br />

winning the Fishman Prize in<br />

2013. Thank you for inspiring<br />

me in our work.<br />

Ruth O’Gara (N.Y.): I received<br />

a faculty merit scholarship<br />

and a Teach For America<br />

scholarship to attend the<br />

master’s in social work<br />

program at the University<br />

of Denver. I am currently<br />

interning at a local Denver<br />

school and am interested<br />

in pursuing certification in<br />

school-based social work.<br />

Rachel Pakzadeh (Las<br />

Vegas): On May 12, 2012, my<br />

husband and I welcomed<br />

our first child, Ruby. Ruby<br />

was baptized in July, and her<br />

godfather is another TFA<br />

alum, Eric Rosecrants (N.Y.<br />

’06).<br />

Sarah Purcell (Phoenix):<br />

Throughout the first half of<br />

2013, I wrote and lobbied a<br />

bill at the Arizona Legislature<br />

with five friends that waives<br />

tuition fees for community<br />

college and universities in<br />

Arizona for kids exiting the<br />

foster care system. Gov. Jan<br />

Brewer signed it into law in<br />

mid-June 2013.<br />

Jessica Reineke (Phoenix):<br />

I live in Oklahoma City with<br />

my husband, Daniel, and our<br />

2½-year-old son Braver.<br />

Besides chasing Braver<br />

around and learning about<br />

the world through the eyes<br />

of a toddler, I co-teach eighth<br />

grade English at a wonderful<br />

school, Westminster School.<br />

Julia Roberts (St. Louis):<br />

Each year of dedicated efforts<br />

makes the difference for the<br />

children we teach.<br />

Leela Sarathy (N.Y.): Since<br />

graduating from medical<br />

school, I have begun my<br />

residency in pediatrics at<br />

Rhode Island Hospital/Brown<br />

University. It is my hope that<br />

as a health care provider to<br />

some of the nation’s poorest<br />

children, I am contributing<br />

to the movement to ensure<br />

educational opportunity for<br />

all.<br />

Rachel Seward (St. Louis):<br />

Between March and May<br />

of 2013, my husband and I<br />

bought a house, welcomed<br />

our first child—a daughter<br />

named Avery—and I began a<br />

role as deputy superintendent<br />

in St. Louis Public Schools!<br />

Erin Smith (Baltimore): I<br />

recently earned my Ph.D. in<br />

human nutrition, foods, and<br />

exercise with an emphasis<br />

in behavioral nutrition and<br />

physical activity and public<br />

school wellness policy<br />

analysis from Virginia Tech.<br />

Jesse Spevack (N.Y.): I got<br />

engaged to Jess Goldberg<br />

(N.Y.). Pretty lucky.<br />

Sarah Strom (D.C. Region):<br />

John Petersen (D.C. Region<br />

’06) and I were married<br />

on May 25, 2013, making a<br />

relationship that blossomed<br />

as corps members at Powell<br />

E.S. official. The wedding<br />

took place under umbrellas<br />

on the prairie on a cold,<br />

rainy Memorial Day in my<br />

hometown of Dixon, Ill. Anna<br />

Gregory (D.C. Region) was a<br />

bridesmaid.<br />

Heather Synold (Las Vegas):<br />

My husband, J.J. Synold (Las<br />

Vegas ’04), and I moved into<br />

our first home in March 2013.<br />

A week later, we welcomed<br />

our second daughter, Piper<br />

Ann! Piper joins big sister<br />

Grace Elena, who turned 2<br />

in May.<br />

Joshua VanderJagt<br />

(Chicago): In a time of such<br />

significant change and action<br />

within education reform, I am<br />

proud to be part of the TFA<br />

movement that has positively<br />

contributed to these efforts.<br />

While the efficacy and<br />

intentions of every player<br />

in this movement has been<br />

questioned, I feel strongly<br />

that TFA’s altruistic view has<br />

had a tremendous impact on<br />

the educational landscape of<br />

our nation.<br />

Erica Warren (S. Louisiana):<br />

I was married on April 29,<br />

2012, to Richard Warren of<br />

Lithonia, Ga. I also graduated<br />

with an MBA in marketing<br />

from Georgia State University<br />

in December 2011.<br />

Roxana Wells (Phoenix):<br />

My husband, Stewart, and I<br />

welcomed our baby boy, Ryan<br />

Rocco, on Nov. 7, 2012.<br />

2006<br />

Chike Aguh (N.Y.): I just<br />

graduated from the Harvard<br />

Kennedy School and the<br />

Wharton School, moved<br />

to Maryland and just got<br />

engaged. I am working to<br />

advance the use of education<br />

technology to help every<br />

student succeed.<br />

Russell Armstrong (Miami-<br />

Dade): Last August, I left<br />

my position as education<br />

policy advisor for Louisiana<br />

to become the chief growth<br />

officer at mSchool, winner of<br />

Teach For America’s National<br />

Social Innovation Award, with<br />

Elliot Sanchez (G.N.O. ’08).<br />

Michael Barnes (R.G.V.): I<br />

have relocated to Austin to<br />

pursue a Ph.D. in education<br />

policy at the University of<br />

Texas, and am maintaining<br />

my support for students and<br />

families as a P/T teacher<br />

providing reading intervention<br />

for a public charter school.<br />

84 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 85


Seeking the best of the best<br />

Excellent Teachers for Excellent Schools<br />

The Excellent Schools Network connects<br />

passionate, results-driven teachers to<br />

job openings at the highest performing<br />

Building Excellent Schools charter schools.<br />

Amy Benedetti (N.Y.): After<br />

teaching in New York City<br />

for five years, I moved to<br />

Hong Kong in 2011 to teach<br />

at an international school.<br />

It is amazing, even across<br />

the globe, how many Teach<br />

For America and Teach For<br />

All alumni and supporters I<br />

encounter on a regular basis.<br />

Teach For America’s strength<br />

as an organization is truly<br />

recognized worldwide.<br />

Stephen Bloom (Miami-<br />

Dade): I married Emily Elliott<br />

(L.A. ’05) on June 1, 2013, in<br />

Sandy Spring, Md. We recently<br />

moved to Baltimore, where I<br />

am attending graduate school<br />

for public health and business<br />

and Emily is working for an<br />

international-youth-focused<br />

NGO.<br />

Colleen Bonaccorso (N.Y.): I<br />

am a certified yoga instructor.<br />

Rachel Byron-Law (N.Y.): I<br />

released an indie-folk album<br />

last year, and have had a<br />

wonderful time seeing some<br />

of you on tour! www.arbielle.<br />

com.<br />

Sarah Chi (E.N.C.): I am<br />

currently a North Carolina<br />

Principal Fellow enrolled<br />

in the master’s of school<br />

administration program at the<br />

University of North Carolina<br />

at Chapel Hill.<br />

Jonthon Coulson (N.Y.): I<br />

am teaching the group of<br />

students I taught as seventh<br />

and eighth graders before<br />

I left to Indonesia for two<br />

years. This year, I’ll see them<br />

graduate!<br />

Taylor Delhagen (N.Y.): I am<br />

heading to Mysore, India,<br />

in 2014 with Fulbright to<br />

study how history teachers<br />

are instructed to facilitate<br />

lessons on the Indian<br />

Nationalist Movement and,<br />

in turn, how this impacts<br />

feelings of national belonging<br />

in and out of the classroom.<br />

Colleen Doyle (N.Y.): I am<br />

currently working in Early<br />

Intervention as a speechlanguage<br />

pathologist. I<br />

serve families of diverse<br />

cultures and socioeconomic<br />

backgrounds. I am able to<br />

ensure young children (3 and<br />

under) and their families<br />

are on the right path from<br />

the beginning. My TFA<br />

experience certainly shapes<br />

my work with my families and<br />

I am grateful for that!<br />

Jonathan Elkin (N.Y.): Nice<br />

seeing so many people at the<br />

TFA-NYC reunion. For those I<br />

missed: After teaching math<br />

in the Bronx, I went to D.C.,<br />

and now I’m doing ed policy<br />

for Senator Hirono of Hawai‘i.<br />

Meanwhile, I met my wife in<br />

’08 while volunteering on the<br />

Obama campaign...it worked<br />

out! Come visit if you ever find<br />

yourself in D.C.<br />

Cole Entress (Chicago): I am<br />

now working with the Relay<br />

Graduate School of Education<br />

to avenge the subpar<br />

experience of corps members<br />

in education grad schools<br />

nationwide. Holla at me!<br />

Kevin Floyd (Charlotte):<br />

I have accepted a role as<br />

project manager and media<br />

specialist with NP Strategy in<br />

Columbia, S.C. This is a newly<br />

launched subsidiary of the<br />

Nexsen Pruet law firm, for<br />

which I am also employed.<br />

Ulises Garcia (L.A.): I<br />

recently became the ELD<br />

Advisor for Villa Park High<br />

School.<br />

Michelle Gieg (S.<br />

Louisiana): My partner<br />

and I, Meghan Thompson<br />

(Charlotte ’08), got<br />

engaged this year after<br />

meeting on staff at the<br />

Delta institute. We’ve also<br />

recently relocated back to<br />

Baton Rouge, La., where<br />

she recently joined the S.<br />

Louisiana regional team.<br />

Megan Godfrey (L.A.): I<br />

returned to Los Angeles in<br />

June 2013 with my husband<br />

and infant daughter to visit<br />

my former students and<br />

celebrate their high school<br />

graduation—a promise I<br />

made to them my first year<br />

in TFA when they were sixth<br />

graders!<br />

Gretchen Greenawalt<br />

(Greater Philadelphia):<br />

Danny Greenawalt and I had<br />

our first baby girl in January<br />

2013, named Perry Hannah!<br />

Holly Guzman (N.Y.): I<br />

graduated from University<br />

of Chicago Booth School of<br />

Business and Harris School<br />

of Public Policy with an<br />

MBA/MPP degree. I recently<br />

started a marketing role at<br />

Procter & Gamble.<br />

Michelle Hassler (Delta):<br />

Michael Hassler (Delta ’05)<br />

and I just had our first child,<br />

a boy named Heath. He was<br />

born on April 29.<br />

Tori Hines (L.A.): I<br />

graduated from Columbia<br />

with an MS in neuroscience<br />

and education with a focus<br />

on literacy acquisition<br />

and the development of<br />

creativity. A few months<br />

later, my husband and I<br />

welcomed our first child,<br />

Hunter Hines!<br />

Sadra Isaacs (N.Y.): Joshua<br />

Isaacs (N.Y.) and I were<br />

married on Aug. 4, 2012.<br />

Shani Jackson Dowell<br />

(Houston): Team Dowell now<br />

has four members. Randy<br />

(a fellow educator who<br />

launched KIPP Nashville)<br />

and I welcomed our son Joah<br />

to the family. He joins his big<br />

sister Selah.<br />

Kristen Jones (N.Y.): I<br />

published a book for young<br />

adults in 2013, entitled<br />

Nothing Like Me. It attempts<br />

to chronicle some of the<br />

pressures of the students I<br />

teach in a fictional format.<br />

Apply Today!<br />

buildingexcellentschools.org/ESNapply<br />

1. Review teacher job openings.<br />

2. Search job openings by keyword, city or school name.<br />

3. Complete online application and submit directly to schools.<br />

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The Excellent Schools Network is a select group of the<br />

highest-performing schools founded by Building Excellent Schools<br />

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Master of Public Affairs (MPA)<br />

• Ranked #2 in the country by U.S. News and World Report<br />

• Exciting concentrations include:<br />

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• Teach For America benefits that result in tuition savings:<br />

Waiver of Experiential Requirement<br />

Credit Hour Reductions<br />

www.spea.indiana.edu<br />

Emily Gorenz, MPA '10<br />

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Concentration: Nonprofit Management<br />

Current Position: Director of School Support<br />

at the Achievement Newwork, New Orleans, LA<br />

86 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 87


ALUMNI NOTES<br />

CAN YOU<br />

BRING IT?<br />

TEAMWORK PASSION DEDICATION HUMOR<br />

COMMITMENT OWNERSHIP EXCELLENCE<br />

ELLENC E<br />

Grant Stegner’s and Elizabeth Carmichael’s (both N.Y. ’08) journey began in the same CMA group at summer institute. Five years and countless lesson<br />

plans later (both are still teachers in New York City), they married in Erie, Pa., on July 13, 2013. Alumni present included (from left) Kayla Poole, Michael<br />

Keough, Lauren Cheak, Michael Duque, Claire Blide (all N.Y. ’08), Shyam Kannan, Osvaldo Mendez (both N.Y. ’09), and Belen Ramirez (N.Y. ’07).<br />

Mary Kearns (Connecticut):<br />

I am currently working at<br />

Baker College Prep as dean<br />

of students. Baker is one<br />

of two new campuses of<br />

Chicago’s Noble Network of<br />

charter schools that opened<br />

on Chicago’s South Side in<br />

August 2013. We are proud to<br />

be serving our 2021 college<br />

graduates!<br />

Michael Klein (N.Y.): On July 14,<br />

2013, my beautiful wife, Rachel<br />

Kantrowitz, and I were married<br />

at the Central Park Boathouse<br />

in the company of many TFA<br />

NYC alums, including Noah<br />

Green, Chike Aguh, Andrew<br />

Parsons, Jonthon Coulson,<br />

Lizzy Vogel (’07), Sam Ronfard,<br />

and Dan Wise (’04).<br />

Marguerite Lembo (N.Y.):<br />

My husband, John, and I<br />

welcomed our first child,<br />

Liliana Theresa, on April 29,<br />

2013!<br />

Adriana MacGregor (N.Y.):<br />

One year ago last fall, my<br />

husband and I welcomed<br />

a beautiful baby boy into<br />

our family. Becoming a<br />

parent has strengthened<br />

my commitment to creating<br />

equitable educational<br />

opportunities for all students.<br />

Siiri Marquardt (N.Y.): In<br />

May 2013, I graduated from<br />

Loyola University Chicago<br />

with my Ed.S/M.Ed in school<br />

psychology.<br />

Jennifer McEachern (N.Y.):<br />

I completed my MBA at<br />

Yale in May 2013, and in<br />

February 2014 I began as a<br />

senior consultant at Deloitte<br />

in Atlanta. In the interim, I<br />

taught a business planning/<br />

entrepreneurship course to<br />

high school students in Prep<br />

for Prep and left to travel<br />

through Australia and Europe<br />

last October.<br />

Laura McSorley (D.C.<br />

Region): My husband, Tom<br />

Dallas McSorley (D.C.<br />

Region), and I are still loving<br />

living in D.C., where Tom<br />

is now a lawyer. I work to<br />

expand Teach For America’s<br />

impact in early childhood—<br />

reach out if we should<br />

connect.<br />

Rebecca Miller<br />

(Connecticut): On May 25,<br />

2013, I got married to Ben<br />

Rottman, and my collab<br />

members Eva Colen (Greater<br />

Philadelphia), Maggie<br />

Hughes (Baltimore), and<br />

Lindsey Rohwer (Chicago),<br />

as well as my Institute LS,<br />

Matt Radigan (G.N.O. ’98),<br />

were in attendance! I moved<br />

to Pittsburgh to start a triple<br />

boards (pediatrics, adult<br />

psychiatry, child psychiatry)<br />

residency at UPMC after<br />

graduating from medical<br />

school in June 2013.<br />

Erasmo Montalvan (D.C.<br />

Region): As a school<br />

director/principal on the<br />

southwest side of Chicago,<br />

I am working arduously<br />

to improve the social<br />

and academic outcomes<br />

of all students in urban<br />

education.<br />

Larry Neal (Delta): Whitney<br />

[Long] Neal (Delta) and I<br />

welcomed Audrey Claire<br />

Neal to our family on June<br />

24, 2013. We live in Atlanta.<br />

Susan Oba (N.Y.): I am<br />

currently teaching math and<br />

coaching teachers at KIPP<br />

Heartwood in San Jose,<br />

Calif.<br />

Kyle Palmer (Houston):<br />

I am working as an 11th<br />

grade AP Language and<br />

Composition teacher at<br />

Summit Prep charter high in<br />

Redwood City, Calif.<br />

Jessica Perez (N.Y.): I married<br />

David Fink, a fellow teacher I<br />

met at my placement school,<br />

on July 28th, 2013, in Lake<br />

View Terrace, Calif. We<br />

continue to work together at<br />

the Celia Cruz Bronx High<br />

School of Music.<br />

Kimberly Price (Miami-Dade):<br />

I won my first trial, preventing<br />

a client from spending 10<br />

years in prison without parole<br />

for a nonviolent drug offense.<br />

The jury took 13 minutes to<br />

acquit my client.<br />

Ajeenah Rasheed-Carroll<br />

(Metro Atlanta): I am living a<br />

blessed life as a mom to five, a<br />

wife of 13 years to an amazing<br />

husband, and a fourth-year<br />

MTLD on an incredible team in<br />

Metro Atlanta.<br />

Jenson Reiser (N.Y.): I am a<br />

third-year doctoral student in<br />

counseling psychology at UT<br />

Make more than a difference. Make your mark.<br />

Join Success Academy because you want to challenge yourself and<br />

scholars across New York City to achieve at a ground-breaking, history<br />

making level every day. With 22 schools serving grades K-8 and a high<br />

school opening in 2014, we seek individuals ready to become leaders,<br />

mentors, and role models to thousands of young people in grades K-12<br />

who are eager to learn—and deserve a world-class public education.<br />

Are you ready to transform education — for good? Learn more and<br />

apply today at SuccessCareers.org<br />

88 One Day • SPRING 2014<br />

SuccessCareers.org<br />

©<br />

2014 Success Academy. EOE.


ALUMNI NOTES<br />

Austin. My research centers<br />

upon stress in educational<br />

settings. Clinically, I work<br />

with children and adolescents<br />

in an inpatient psychiatric<br />

facility.<br />

Sara Rubin (Las Vegas): I am<br />

enrolled in my final year of a<br />

school psychology graduate<br />

program at Illinois State<br />

University, and am serving<br />

as a full-time psychology<br />

intern at Evanston Township<br />

High School. I look forward<br />

to learning how to best meet<br />

the academic and socialemotional<br />

needs of students<br />

and applying this knowledge<br />

to my future practice as a<br />

school psychologist.<br />

Elizabeth Simpson<br />

(Memphis): Tim Flowers<br />

(Memphis) and I were<br />

married in Memphis, Tenn.,<br />

on Nov. 2, 2013.<br />

Wrede Smith (St. Louis): Beth<br />

Kuhnhein (St. Louis) and I<br />

were married in Cincinnati<br />

on Dec. 8, 2012! Two fellow<br />

corps members were in the<br />

wedding party, and others<br />

were in attendance.<br />

John Stoneburner (L.A.):<br />

I recently became the<br />

chairman of the board for<br />

a charter school in Los<br />

Angeles.<br />

Andrea Swanson (Baltimore):<br />

Hello to the Baltimore Corps<br />

’06! Shawn and I wish a happy<br />

first birthday to Penelope,<br />

our daughter! We are living in<br />

Portland, Ore., and loving life!<br />

Kimron Thomas (N.Y.): I<br />

am currently working with<br />

the NY Collective of Radical<br />

Educators and the movement<br />

of rank-and-file educators<br />

to fight the privatization<br />

and corporate takeover of<br />

American public schools. Join<br />

me! kimronthomas@gmail.<br />

com.<br />

Lisa Thornton (Charlotte):<br />

Seven years after Shelby<br />

Rohrer and I were in the same<br />

collaborative CMA group in<br />

Atlanta institute, 2006, we<br />

reunited again as colleagues<br />

working for a leading charter<br />

school in South Minneapolis<br />

called Hiawatha Leadership<br />

Academy. I continued teaching<br />

at my placement school<br />

Our scholars are growing...<br />

Blackstone Valley Prep<br />

Mayoral Academy,<br />

a network of high performing<br />

charter schools in Rhode Island,<br />

will serve 7 schools<br />

and over 2,000 scholars,<br />

grades K-12, by the year 2017.<br />

and so is our team.<br />

2009<br />

in Charlotte, N.C., for four<br />

years before moving back to<br />

Minnesota. The TFA network<br />

came full cycle.<br />

Akay Tuncak (N.Y.): I have<br />

started business school at the<br />

University of Chicago Booth<br />

School of Business.<br />

Chelsea Vines (Metro<br />

Atlanta): I continue to teach<br />

in my placement school.<br />

Every year is a challenge<br />

because my students’ needs<br />

are different. No two classes<br />

are the same, and that is the<br />

beauty of teaching. I work<br />

hard, but I can truly say that I<br />

still enjoy it!<br />

Angela Washington (Metro<br />

Atlanta): I just got married<br />

on July 7, 2013! So I’m getting<br />

used to my students calling<br />

me a new last name after<br />

seven years.<br />

Abbey Weispfenning (E.N.C.):<br />

My husband Aaron and I<br />

welcomed a baby girl, Emma<br />

Fay, on Dec. 12, 2012. I also<br />

accepted a new role as an<br />

assistant principal in my<br />

placement district.<br />

Vincent Zabala (Hawai‘i): I’ve<br />

made a big move in the past<br />

two years to Southeast Asia,<br />

spending a year teaching<br />

in Thailand and currently<br />

working as a trainer and<br />

coach for Teach For Malaysia.<br />

2007<br />

Pamela (Swanson) Simaga<br />

(R.G.V.): I graduated law<br />

school in May 2012 and am<br />

working as an attorney at<br />

a school law firm. I also<br />

married Eric, the love of my<br />

life, in May 2013.<br />

Kristin Algier (Houston): I am<br />

excited to have moved back to<br />

Dallas to serve as the primary<br />

director at Uplift’s Heights<br />

Preparatory. This amazing<br />

school in West Dallas is<br />

creating the next generation<br />

of college graduates. It is not<br />

if they will go to college, but<br />

where!<br />

Nathan Arrowsmith<br />

(Phoenix): In May, I graduated<br />

magna cum laude from the<br />

Sandra Day O’Connor College<br />

of Law at Arizona State<br />

University and started work<br />

Make an impact: join us!<br />

2013<br />

in the fall as a law clerk for<br />

Judge David Campbell of the<br />

United States District Court<br />

for the District of Arizona.<br />

Erin Barksdale (Metro<br />

Atlanta): As of June 2013,<br />

I became the high school<br />

principal/director of a charter<br />

school, Hampton Preparatory,<br />

in Dallas.<br />

Ashley Bencan (Greater<br />

Philadelphia): Zach Bencan<br />

(Greater Philadelphia) and I<br />

have a 10-month-old baby boy<br />

named Jackson!<br />

Michael Billups (G.N.O.):<br />

Despite moving from the<br />

classroom into the cockpits<br />

of America’s Air Force, I am<br />

as resolved as ever that our<br />

nation’s biggest challenge and<br />

opportunity lies in the reform<br />

of our education system and its<br />

ability to provide all children<br />

with an excellent education.<br />

Charles Braman (N.Y.): I am<br />

currently the coordinator<br />

of special projects and<br />

extracurricular activities at<br />

Rise Academy, a KIPP school,<br />

in Newark, N.J.<br />

MASTERY CHARTER SCHOOLS<br />

THE NATIONAL TURNAROUND LEADER<br />

“<br />

After Teach For America, I knew I wanted to<br />

continue making a difference in urban education<br />

and work somewhere with leadership opportunities.<br />

If you are committed to public education reform,<br />

then Mastery is the place for you.<br />

Matthew Troha, Greater Philadelphia ’03 and current Mastery Executive Principal<br />

”<br />

TRANSFORMING EDUCATION IN<br />

PHILADELPHIA SINCE 2001<br />

18 Mastery Campuses<br />

125 School Leaders<br />

47 Teach For America<br />

Alums Serving in School<br />

Leadership Roles<br />

Proudly Serving<br />

9,500 Families<br />

Join us today.<br />

Our team is home to a 2013<br />

National Milken Educator Award recipient*<br />

*a 2006 Teach For America alum!<br />

www.blackstonevalleyprep.org<br />

Click the “Careers” tab<br />

Teachers and leaders wanted in grades K-9<br />

To learn more and apply:<br />

www.masterycharter.org<br />

One Day • SPRING 2014 91


BE NOBLE.<br />

1 in 10 high school<br />

seniors in Chicago<br />

attends a Noble<br />

campus.<br />

Over 90% of<br />

Noble seniors<br />

choose to pursue a<br />

college degree.<br />

242<br />

Teach For America<br />

alumni are helping<br />

them get there.<br />

A critical mass is<br />

forming that will<br />

close Chicago’s<br />

opportunity gap.<br />

noblenetwork.org<br />

92 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 93


Calling All<br />

Role Models<br />

Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools is<br />

looking for great teachers and is committed<br />

to providing a high quality education to<br />

every student. We are earning a national<br />

reputation for urban school reform and want<br />

the best educators to help us reach our goal<br />

of becoming the nation’s top performing<br />

urban school system by 2018. Join us.<br />

High Demand Opportunities:<br />

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Spanish<br />

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Exceptional<br />

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The Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) does not discriminate<br />

on the basis of race, religion, creed, gender, gender identity, sexual<br />

orientation, national origin, color, age, and/or disability in admission to,<br />

access to, or operation of its programs, services, or activities. MNPS does not<br />

discriminate in its hiring or employment practices.<br />

Tina Brunson (N.Y.): Stephen<br />

Green (N.Y.) and I met as<br />

corps members and recently<br />

became engaged while<br />

vacationing in Tanzania in<br />

2013.<br />

Alissa Byrne (L.A.): My<br />

husband and I welcomed our<br />

second daughter into the<br />

world last spring. Savannah<br />

Byrne was born on May 11!<br />

Her older sister Mckinley<br />

(2½) is a proud big sister!<br />

Trisha Carlson (Baltimore):<br />

I’ve had two children of my<br />

own who make me appreciate<br />

and value elementary school<br />

teachers even more! I now<br />

teach at an alternative high<br />

school in Montana where I<br />

have the privilege of helping<br />

students earn high school<br />

diplomas on a schedule that<br />

works for each one.<br />

Rochelle Comeaux (Chicago):<br />

After Teach For America, I<br />

moved to Colorado, earned<br />

my Wilderness First<br />

Responder, then moved to<br />

Portland, Ore., to work as<br />

a guide for a wilderness<br />

therapy program. I later<br />

began working at a local<br />

gear shop and am now<br />

packing up to move to South<br />

America, where I will work<br />

on my Spanish, volunteer,<br />

and eventually come back to<br />

the States to work with youth<br />

once again.<br />

Stephanie Covill (Charlotte):<br />

Hey Charlotte ’07! I recently<br />

graduated from UNC Chapel<br />

Hill’s Master of School<br />

Administration program as<br />

a North Carolina Principal<br />

Fellow, and I am now serving<br />

as an assistant principal at<br />

Githens Middle School in<br />

Durham, N.C.<br />

Barbara Hope Crocker (N.Y.):<br />

I got married this fall and<br />

am still living and working in<br />

New York City with so many<br />

amazing TFA alums.<br />

Jared Dawson (Metro<br />

Atlanta): I am married to<br />

Dominique Dawson and<br />

together we have one child<br />

named Josiah. My family<br />

currently lives in Atlanta and<br />

works for Campus Crusade<br />

for Christ. We are working<br />

to see every student in<br />

Atlanta have an opportunity<br />

to respond to the message<br />

of Jesus. I also do a little<br />

photography and furniture<br />

restoration.<br />

Keith Dell’Aquila (L.A.): I<br />

married Kate Dove (L.A. ’10)<br />

and began work engaging<br />

charter school teachers in<br />

advocacy work as the director<br />

of teacher engagement<br />

with the California Charter<br />

Schools Association.<br />

William Dirickson (Houston):<br />

I have just been accepted to<br />

Officer Candidate School for<br />

the United States Navy!<br />

William (Sam) Duell (Bay<br />

Area): Laura (Bay Area<br />

’10), Robin (Corps ’23), and I<br />

recently moved to Oklahoma<br />

City to join the momentous<br />

education reform movement<br />

in Oklahoma. Drawn by family<br />

and a happenin’ place, I<br />

recently accepted a position<br />

in the State Department of<br />

Education, where I work with<br />

all of the charter schools in<br />

the state to ensure quality<br />

school choice for kids.<br />

Charles Erker (Chicago):<br />

I graduated from Harvard<br />

Business School in May 2013<br />

and started as a consultant<br />

with The Boston Consulting<br />

Group in Chicago last July. I<br />

recently started volunteering<br />

with METROsquash and look<br />

forward to reacquainting<br />

myself with the Chicago<br />

winter.<br />

Casey Farmer (Bay Area):<br />

Galen Wilson (Bay Area ’08)<br />

and I, college sweethearts<br />

from University of San<br />

Francisco, were married<br />

on Sept. 1, 2013, in West<br />

Sonoma County, Calif. Over<br />

a dozen alums were there<br />

to celebrate! I am a policy<br />

analyst for an Oakland City<br />

Council member whose<br />

campaign I managed, and<br />

Galen works in public<br />

infrastructure financing at<br />

Goldman Sachs.<br />

Maria Formico (Bay Area):<br />

I’m working on my National<br />

Board Certification and<br />

planning my wedding for July<br />

2014. Life is great!<br />

Beth Freitas Clark (Greater<br />

Philadelphia): Last fall I had<br />

the great joy of marrying<br />

my craziest, smartest,<br />

most generous, and most<br />

handsome friend, Justin.<br />

We were elated to celebrate<br />

with our community, which<br />

included several Philly ’07<br />

alums.<br />

Darryl Glover (New Jersey):<br />

I am currently working<br />

hard to launch a creative<br />

company that will allow me to<br />

highlight the role of the arts<br />

in education. Our mission is<br />

simple: Expose all aspects<br />

of the creative industry to<br />

students in grades K-12 as<br />

a future career option. With<br />

proper guidance, the arts and<br />

entertainment industry can<br />

be more than “hobby worthy.”<br />

Stephen Green (N.Y.): Tina<br />

Brunson and I are engaged.<br />

Our love first blossomed at<br />

Pace University.<br />

Meredith Hartman (E.N.C.):<br />

I started my new role as a<br />

talent associate with KIPP<br />

Philadelphia Schools in July<br />

2013. This is my first year<br />

out of the classroom and I<br />

am enjoying learning how to<br />

recruit and select the best<br />

teachers for KIPP Philly’s<br />

students.<br />

Joanna Hefty (N.Y.): I’m<br />

so excited to join the<br />

academics team at Summit<br />

Public Schools. We’re doing<br />

amazing work through<br />

technology to support selfdirected<br />

learning!<br />

Gwen Hodges (Baltimore): In<br />

February 2013, my husband<br />

and I welcomed Benton<br />

Michael Shevlin Hodges to<br />

the family.<br />

Sarah Hunko Baker (N.Y.): I<br />

am principal and co-founder<br />

of Foundations College Prep,<br />

a new 6-12 charter school<br />

opening on Chicago’s South<br />

Side in 2014. I am co-founder<br />

with Executive Director Micki<br />

O’Neil (former TFA staff) and<br />

Dean of School Culture Emily<br />

Quiroz (D.C. Region).<br />

David Jordan (N.Y.): After<br />

completing my corps<br />

commitment, I have been<br />

thrilled to apply the rigor and<br />

data-driven analysis Teach<br />

For America has taught me in<br />

the Chinese context through<br />

Teach For China. I am more<br />

confident than ever that<br />

educational equity can be<br />

solved, both here and abroad.<br />

Marvis Kilgore (Houston):<br />

I have been named as a<br />

level coordinator at the<br />

Community College of Qatar<br />

in the English Language<br />

Center.<br />

Jordan Kutcher (N.Y.): I<br />

recently moved to Chicago<br />

with my fiancé. The wedding<br />

will be in May in Washington,<br />

D.C.!<br />

Adrian Larbi-Cherif (St.<br />

Louis): I am currently<br />

working on how to design<br />

schools to ensure that all<br />

students receive a quality<br />

math education.<br />

Whitney LeFevre<br />

(Baltimore): After graduating<br />

from medical school and<br />

getting married within<br />

two weeks of each other, I<br />

recently ventured back east<br />

to start my family medicine<br />

residency at Greater<br />

Lawrence Family Health<br />

Center in Lawrence, Mass.<br />

I work predominantly with<br />

a Latino population in an<br />

underserved community,<br />

working to end educational<br />

inequality by bettering the<br />

health of the neighborhood<br />

I live in.<br />

Meredith Levine (N.Y.): Still<br />

teaching, and still loving it!<br />

Allison Liby-Schoonover<br />

(Greater Philadelphia): I<br />

currently direct education<br />

policy for the president and<br />

majority leader of the Florida<br />

Senate.<br />

Axel Lucca (Bay Area):<br />

I am currently attending<br />

the George Washington<br />

University Physician<br />

Assistant program. I am<br />

also the House of Delegates<br />

representative for the<br />

Student Association of<br />

the American Academy of<br />

Physician Assistants. Can’t<br />

wait to start clinical rotations<br />

in May!<br />

Alexander Macaulay<br />

(Charlotte): After a year of<br />

waiting, the all-new LIFT<br />

Academy of West Charlotte<br />

high school is finally open!<br />

Each day we work to serve 60<br />

off-track seniors by helping<br />

them get all of the credits<br />

they need to graduate on time<br />

in June.<br />

Juan Pablo Martinez<br />

(Houston): I have been<br />

working for the past two<br />

years supporting the launch<br />

of Enseña por Colombia’s<br />

(my home country) first two<br />

cohorts. I am now splitting<br />

my time between the<br />

programs in Colombia and<br />

Argentina, two of five Latin<br />

American programs that<br />

are part of the Teach For All<br />

network.<br />

Jayda McGough (G.N.O.):<br />

After having twins during my<br />

second year, I got married<br />

to their father, a software<br />

engineer I met while in New<br />

Orleans. After moving to<br />

Seattle, we had another<br />

baby—boy No. 3! I recently<br />

founded an educational<br />

advocacy group, Friends<br />

of Arthur, named after<br />

one of my former students<br />

who passed away. I’m so<br />

excited to continue my work<br />

with students and families<br />

navigating the special<br />

education world.<br />

Daniel Meyers (New Jersey):<br />

I graduated from Yale Divinity<br />

School and was ordained in<br />

the United Church of Christ.<br />

I’m now working in higher<br />

education to help ensure all<br />

our students have access to<br />

faith-based communities and<br />

practices.<br />

Jonathan Moore (Phoenix):<br />

I have been named the<br />

principal of Dr. Bernard Black<br />

Elementary School in the<br />

Roosevelt School District.<br />

This is the school where I<br />

was first placed as a corps<br />

member teaching seventh<br />

grade social studies. It feels<br />

great to be back home in the<br />

community I love!<br />

Kathleen Nanney (Houston):<br />

After graduating from law<br />

school at the University of<br />

Texas, I am currently clerking<br />

for the Honorable Edward C.<br />

Prado of the United States<br />

Court of Appeals for the Fifth<br />

Circuit.<br />

Laura Nikiel (Memphis):<br />

Moving back home to Chicago<br />

was the best move I could<br />

make! I work for Noble<br />

Street Charter Schools as<br />

an environmental science<br />

teacher. I love every day that<br />

I have with the students,<br />

teaching them how to make<br />

the world a better place by<br />

protecting our environment.<br />

We also take students<br />

camping and to preserves to<br />

study how to preserve these<br />

places in the future. I couldn’t<br />

be more lucky.<br />

John O’Hara (L.A.): I married<br />

my beautiful wife, fellow Los<br />

Angeles corps member Dena<br />

Veth O’Hara, on Aug. 18, 2012.<br />

Jesse Palencia (Houston):<br />

I led my school’s (Juarez<br />

Community Academy in<br />

Chicago) senior class in<br />

attaining over $9 million in<br />

scholarship funds — highest<br />

in school history and secondhighest<br />

in the school area<br />

network.<br />

Erin Peacock (N.Y.): I recently<br />

received my master’s of<br />

social work from NYU. I<br />

am currently working for a<br />

nonprofit agency in the field<br />

of child welfare.<br />

Jarred Pfeiffer (Charlotte): I<br />

received my master’s of fine<br />

arts in ceramics from Kansas<br />

State University in May 2013<br />

and am currently the new<br />

ceramics professor at Cuesta<br />

College in San Luis Obispo,<br />

Calif. Last February, I won the<br />

Midwestern Association of<br />

School Councils Excellence in<br />

Teaching Award for graduate<br />

student teaching.<br />

Laura Powers (N.Y.):<br />

As a Leader U Fellow at<br />

Democracy Prep, I am<br />

working toward the mission<br />

each day of “work hard,<br />

go to college, change the<br />

world.” Through professional<br />

development with Democracy<br />

Prep and Building Excellent<br />

Schools, I look forward<br />

to helping expand the<br />

Democracy Prep Network in<br />

the next year.<br />

Kelly Quinney (Greater<br />

Philadelphia): I married<br />

Sam Quinney (Greater<br />

Philadelphia) on June 22,<br />

2013, in Charlotte, Vt.<br />

Alisha Ragan (L.A.): I am<br />

currently in my seventh year<br />

of teaching, with Uncommon<br />

Schools in Brooklyn, N.Y.<br />

I am an instructional lead<br />

teacher and also serve as<br />

an adjunct instructor at the<br />

Relay Graduate School of<br />

Education.<br />

Desiree Raught (D.C.<br />

Region): After Teach For<br />

America, I stayed in the<br />

classroom and found a<br />

variety of leadership roles<br />

within D.C. Public Schools.<br />

I currently write Common<br />

Core curriculum for all<br />

ELA teachers. I serve as an<br />

LGBT liaison for my school<br />

to ensure that all students<br />

have a safe, welcoming place<br />

to learn. DCPS is an exciting<br />

place to work, and TFA gave<br />

me the skills I needed to be a<br />

part of the reform.<br />

Catarina Rivera (N.Y.): I was<br />

a speaker for the second year<br />

at the national Latinos in Tech<br />

Innovation and Social Media<br />

(LATISM) conference on Sept.<br />

21, 2013. I was part of a panel<br />

on Latinos and obesity.<br />

Adriana Rosales (Houston):<br />

I am now a dean of students<br />

at my school, Coney Island<br />

Prep.<br />

Tammy Ruth (L.A.): I married<br />

Kacy Ruth (L.A.) in St. Louis<br />

on April 6, 2013. We both<br />

graduated from medical<br />

school and are now working<br />

Kristol Roberts (St. Louis ’07) writes: “I am proud and excited<br />

to welcome my first child, Kameron,” born in October 2013.<br />

at Naval Medical Center<br />

San Diego. I will go into<br />

pediatrics, and Kacy into<br />

urology.<br />

Bryan Sandala (Greater<br />

Philadelphia): I am currently<br />

serving as an instructional<br />

specialist for secondary<br />

literacy within the Palm<br />

Beach County School<br />

District, working with all<br />

teachers of grades 6-12.<br />

Stephen Sanders (N.Y.): I<br />

recently began serving as an<br />

assistant district attorney<br />

in the New Orleans area.<br />

This year I also married my<br />

wonderful wife, Karen.<br />

Melanie Schoeppe (Bay<br />

Area): I’m so excited to<br />

be a school leader at my<br />

placement school, Greenleaf.<br />

We’re expanding from a K-5<br />

to a K-8!<br />

Nithya Senra (L.A.): On Sept.<br />

28, 2013, Sergio Chinos (L.A.)<br />

and I got married in Newport<br />

Beach, Calif. We recently<br />

moved to the Washington,<br />

D.C., area, where Sergio<br />

is attending law school<br />

and I will be working as an<br />

attorney with the federal<br />

government.<br />

Toby Shepherd (N.Y.): I<br />

have taken a new position<br />

as the director of policy<br />

for Providence, R.I., Mayor<br />

Angel Taveras, where I<br />

helped win the $5 million<br />

grand prize in the Bloomberg<br />

Philanthropies Mayors<br />

Challenge! My wife, Kristina,<br />

and I also recently welcomed<br />

baby Judah, who joins big<br />

brother Elijah.<br />

Margaret Siller (Hawai‘i):<br />

I recently graduated from<br />

Northwestern University<br />

School of Law in May of 2013.<br />

After studying for the bar<br />

exam, I moved to Manhattan<br />

and recently began a job at<br />

Quinn Emanuel, a litigation<br />

firm.<br />

Brian Smith (New Mexico):<br />

I have returned to teaching<br />

yet again, this time as a<br />

math teacher at Santa Fe<br />

High School. This year, I am<br />

starting a Team America<br />

Rocketry Challenge team in<br />

addition to teaching.<br />

Jennifer Spalding (N.Y.): I<br />

was appointed principal of<br />

M.S. 821, a public school<br />

in Sunset Park, Brooklyn,<br />

N.Y. I am excited to continue<br />

working with the incredible<br />

students and staff in our<br />

school community, where I<br />

have taught for many years<br />

and was originally placed as<br />

a corps member.<br />

94 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 95


ALUMNI NOTES<br />

ALUMNI NOTES<br />

Travis Starkey (Delta): I<br />

just moved to Eastern North<br />

Carolina and rejoined Teach<br />

For America staff, and I now<br />

support corps members<br />

in the far eastern part of<br />

the state and am helping<br />

the region initiate a social<br />

entrepreneurship initiative.<br />

I also started a blog about<br />

the small-town South at<br />

greenfieldse.org.<br />

Taylor Stewart (Baltimore):<br />

I am now serving as the<br />

regional organizing director<br />

for LEE in Baltimore. I’m<br />

looking forward to working<br />

in the region I taught to<br />

advocate with our corps<br />

members and alumni to<br />

make our city a great place of<br />

opportunity for kids!<br />

Jaclyn Suffel (Memphis): I<br />

am working as the manager<br />

of curriculum and training<br />

with Stand for Children<br />

Memphis. Every day, I aid<br />

our community organizers<br />

in their work, train our<br />

amazing parent and teacher<br />

volunteers and empower<br />

them to take action on behalf<br />

of the children in our district.<br />

Currently, we are working<br />

with our members to gain<br />

funding to provide pre-K to<br />

every Memphis child that<br />

needs it.<br />

Sarah Tierney (N.Y.):<br />

Rebekah Nelson (N.Y.) and<br />

I ran the Triple Threat Half<br />

Marathon in August 2013 and<br />

have our sights set on many<br />

more halves and fulls!<br />

Sebastian Turner (N.Y.): I am<br />

proud to find so many fellow<br />

TFA alumni from multiple<br />

regions studying alongside<br />

me in business school.<br />

Jennifer Tyrell (E.N.C.):<br />

My husband, Shawn, and I<br />

welcomed a beautiful baby<br />

boy named Caleb Michael in<br />

July 2013!<br />

Daniel Velasco (Bay Area):<br />

I lead the Diplomas Now<br />

initiative in Boston and<br />

recently joined the charter<br />

cohort of part-time, online<br />

Ed.D candidates at Johns<br />

Hopkins University.<br />

Natalie Wagner<br />

(Philadelphia): My husband<br />

and I co-founded a nonprofit,<br />

The Institute for Student<br />

Health, which connects<br />

students to resources that<br />

help them live a healthy,<br />

active lifestyle. We teach<br />

cooking, gardening and<br />

fitness in schools, afterschool<br />

programs, and<br />

summer programs. We love<br />

seeing kids get excited about<br />

healthy living!<br />

Shaneeqwa Watson<br />

(Memphis): I am a newly<br />

barred New York attorney.<br />

I recently moved to the Big<br />

Apple to seek a position in<br />

public interest law.<br />

Wade Wilgus (Bay Area):<br />

I’ve been creating projectbased<br />

learning opportunities<br />

at Instructables.com, a DIY<br />

project-sharing website.<br />

Denise Woodward (L.A.):<br />

Our Science Olympiad team<br />

is gaining momentum in our<br />

third year with seven coaches<br />

and nearly 50 kids. We<br />

brought home the school’s<br />

first academic medals last<br />

February!<br />

Lauren Zabicki (New Mexico):<br />

My husband, Timothy Zabicki<br />

(New Mexico), and I had our<br />

third child, Mavrik Thomas<br />

Zabicki, last year.<br />

2008<br />

Ashley Adams (Greater<br />

Newark): I have just<br />

accomplished my second<br />

master’s degree and recently<br />

completed the New Leaders<br />

program. I am currently the<br />

assistant principal at my TFA<br />

placement school, University<br />

Heights Charter School. It is<br />

my sixth year at this school.<br />

Miriam Altman (N.Y.): I left<br />

the classroom to pursue<br />

an MPA at NYU Wagner in<br />

2011. I graduated from that<br />

program in May 2013, and<br />

while in school, co-founded<br />

Kinvolved, a social venture<br />

that offers schools/teachers<br />

technology to engage families<br />

to improve K-12 attendance.<br />

Their product launched in<br />

open beta on Sept. 13, 2013.<br />

Email miriam@kinvolved.com<br />

for more info.<br />

Blair Ashley (Bay Area): I am<br />

in my fourth year of medical<br />

school at the University<br />

of Pittsburgh School of<br />

Medicine, and I am currently<br />

applying to orthopaedic<br />

surgery residencies. My<br />

daughter, Lyla, just turned 4!<br />

Brittney Beck (E.N.C.): I<br />

am currently a doctoral<br />

fellow with the University of<br />

Florida School of Teaching<br />

and Learning, studying<br />

curriculum, teaching, and<br />

teacher education. My<br />

research focuses on the<br />

intersections of educational<br />

equity, culturally responsive<br />

pedagogy, social justice,<br />

and teacher education. I<br />

also serve as the graduate<br />

assistant for the Center for<br />

Leadership and Service.<br />

Andrew Bernier (Phoenix):<br />

I’m working to develop and<br />

teach the first full-scale,<br />

comprehensive sustainability<br />

program and curriculum in<br />

the nation for public high<br />

school students (www.<br />

crestsustainability.net). All<br />

the while I am working on<br />

my Ph.D in sustainability<br />

education and serving on the<br />

editorial staff of the Journal<br />

of Sustainability Education.<br />

Cassiopia Blausey (Las<br />

Vegas): In spring 2013 I was<br />

Good teachers<br />

can be great.<br />

That’s why we’ve designed a new online<br />

master’s degree program specifically<br />

for Teach For America corps members<br />

and alumni that is aligned with Teach For<br />

America’s Teaching as Leadership model<br />

and provides the knowledge and skills<br />

necessary to make a lasting impact in the<br />

classroom.<br />

To find out how you can become<br />

transformational in your teaching, visit<br />

education.jhu.edu/tfa or speak to our<br />

admissions team at 1-877-JHU-SOE1.<br />

named the editor-in-chief<br />

for the Journal of Law and<br />

Education at the University<br />

of Louisville Brandeis School<br />

of Law. On Oct. 13, 2012,<br />

I married Kris Blausey in<br />

Louisville, Ky.<br />

Reginald Bolding (Phoenix):<br />

I have returned to Teach<br />

For America, which felt like<br />

a fresh breath of air. It is<br />

great to be working hand<br />

in hand with people are are<br />

committed to closing the gap<br />

every day.<br />

Carina Box (Phoenix): Last<br />

year I moved to Seattle and<br />

am enjoying living in an area<br />

full of outdoor activity. I have<br />

also enjoyed volunteering<br />

with TFA in the Puget<br />

Sound region.<br />

Devin Branson (L.A.): I<br />

am back home in Western<br />

Washington after years in Los<br />

Angeles, but still continuing<br />

the fight for excellent<br />

education for all children.<br />

Casetta Brown-Gunn<br />

(Houston): I am currently a<br />

founding staff member at<br />

a school where I know that<br />

I’m making a difference. My<br />

move from Detroit to Houston<br />

through Teach For America<br />

made this possible! Thanks,<br />

TFA.<br />

Samuel Buchbinder (N.Y.):<br />

I got married this past July<br />

to Kimberly De Lorme (N.Y.)<br />

who I met on the cheese bus<br />

from St. Johns to M.S. 391 at<br />

institute. At our wedding we<br />

had a table full of friends from<br />

TFA. We are happily starting<br />

our married life together, both<br />

still as teachers in NYC.<br />

Jessica Burney (Metro<br />

Atlanta): I’m truly enjoying my<br />

role as an elementary math<br />

instructor for TFA! Working<br />

with first-year teachers<br />

to make sure they are<br />

successful in the classroom is<br />

very rewarding!<br />

Alexandra Caldwell<br />

(G.N.O.): I’ve just begun my<br />

last semester as an MPH<br />

graduate student at the<br />

Columbia University School<br />

of Public Health, studying<br />

health policy and outcomes<br />

research. This past summer<br />

I worked in the finance and<br />

strategy department of The<br />

Global Fund to Fight AIDS,<br />

TB, and Malaria in Geneva,<br />

Switzerland, which was<br />

a blast. Looking forward<br />

to what comes next after<br />

graduation in December!<br />

Jennie Carr (Houston): After<br />

moving to Texas six years<br />

ago to teach pre-K, I am now<br />

happily staying home full time<br />

to teach my two little Texan<br />

sons. When they’re sleeping,<br />

I have time to work on the<br />

completion of my master’s in<br />

educational leadership.<br />

Wendy Chan (N.Y.): I will<br />

soon start my third year as<br />

a Ph.D. student in statistics<br />

at Northwestern University.<br />

I am excited to begin the<br />

research stage of my<br />

program. I am especially<br />

excited to participate in<br />

upcoming educational<br />

conferences and symposiums<br />

that will give me some<br />

direction in my research<br />

interests.<br />

Sarah Cole (Metro Atlanta):<br />

I’m working in Springdale,<br />

Ark., teaching ESL and<br />

regular classes to eighth<br />

grade students in English.<br />

Our school is Title I and we<br />

serve a primarily Hispanic<br />

and Marshallese community.<br />

Mark Congdon (E.N.C.):<br />

I graduated with my M.A.<br />

in communication studies<br />

from the University of North<br />

Carolina Greensboro in<br />

May 2013 while completing<br />

original research on the<br />

importance of a social justice<br />

education for at-risk students<br />

utilizing a culturally relevant<br />

pedagogy and servicelearning<br />

projects to help<br />

close the achievement gap.<br />

Kevin Cournoyer (Baltimore):<br />

In my sixth year of teaching,<br />

and yesterday I planned and<br />

taught an entirely new lesson.<br />

The learning never stops...<br />

Isabel Cueva (N.Y.): I am<br />

returning to Madrid, where I<br />

studied abroad, and teaching<br />

English at Madrid public<br />

schools.<br />

Jennifer Denny (D.C. Region):<br />

I graduated law school from<br />

Loyola Chicago in May 2013<br />

and took a job with the U.S.<br />

Department of Education in<br />

D.C. in September through<br />

the Presidential Management<br />

Fellows program. In my role,<br />

I ensure that our nation’s<br />

youngest learners have<br />

adequate special education<br />

support by working with<br />

states to improve their<br />

early intervention policies<br />

and procedures.<br />

Kenneth Dikas<br />

(Jacksonville): I am now<br />

a second-year student<br />

at Penn Law. I plan on<br />

practicing corporate law in<br />

Atlanta and serving on the<br />

boards of education-reform<br />

organizations and/or charter<br />

schools. I want to leverage<br />

my professional connections<br />

to better advocate for<br />

better schools.<br />

David Donaldson<br />

(Baltimore): I returned home<br />

to Detroit to become principal<br />

of the Detroit Institute of<br />

Technology at Cody with<br />

Detroit Public Schools.<br />

Herneshia Dukes (Metro<br />

Atlanta): This is my first year<br />

in the role of upper school<br />

assistant principal at KIPP<br />

New Orleans Schools. I’m<br />

thrilled to work with the most<br />

incredible students in our city<br />

and am honored to be in this<br />

movement.<br />

John Eshelman (Charlotte):<br />

After my two years teaching<br />

in Charlotte, I decided to<br />

move into the private sector.<br />

I am currently working as an<br />

account strategist at Google<br />

in Ann Arbor, Mich. I really<br />

enjoy working with clients<br />

and using data to bring them<br />

meaningful insights.<br />

Jillian Farland (Phoenix):<br />

Travis Farland and I married<br />

on July 6, 2013, at Maravilla<br />

Gardens in Camarillo,<br />

Calif. We bought a home in<br />

Ahwatukee, Ariz., and plan to<br />

stay in the valley indefinitely.<br />

Florence Fehlner (R.G.V.):<br />

I am working to continue a<br />

field trip to Washington, D.C.<br />

for our Alamo Middle School<br />

eighth graders. This will be<br />

the third year of Alamo to<br />

D.C., and we will be in D.C.<br />

June 1-5, 2014. If you’re in<br />

D.C. and would like to meet<br />

us, let me know. florence.<br />

fehlner@psjaisd.us<br />

Zoe Fonseca (N.Y.): I’m very<br />

privileged to be teaching<br />

fourth grade at Success<br />

Academy Bronx 1. I work<br />

with an extraordinary group<br />

of teachers, leaders, and<br />

families. Please come visit<br />

our school and join our team!<br />

Alicia Fremling (Greater<br />

Philadelphia): I am the<br />

director of a pet resort<br />

that offers overnight<br />

accommodations, doggie<br />

day care, and grooming. I<br />

manage a team of 30-plus<br />

employees and host 100-plus<br />

pets nightly. We also work<br />

with a number of rescues and<br />

board several rescue pets on<br />

a short- or long-term basis,<br />

as needed.<br />

Liliana Funes (N.Y.): After<br />

finishing the corps in New<br />

York, I moved to Los Angeles<br />

and became a teacher at<br />

KIPP Comienza Community<br />

Prep in Huntington Park. This<br />

past summer, I worked as a<br />

facilitator with Teach For All<br />

in Mexico, with alumni from<br />

Chile, Germany, England,<br />

and Italy, and many from the<br />

U.S. I’m excited to see how<br />

much more TFA and Teach<br />

For All will continue to impact<br />

education.<br />

Laura Garrison (Houston):<br />

If every day feels like a<br />

struggle, I understand you.<br />

But know even on your worst<br />

day, you are doing something<br />

that will impact someone’s<br />

life. YOU are the difference<br />

that a child desperately<br />

needs.<br />

Gillian Giannetti (G.N.O.): Hi<br />

all! I am in my last year of law<br />

school at the University of<br />

Virginia and recently married<br />

my college sweetheart. We<br />

are excited for my graduation<br />

and our next great adventure!<br />

Angela Gorney (E.N.C.):<br />

I am in my first semester<br />

of veterinary school at<br />

NCSU College of Veterinary<br />

Medicine. While my school<br />

load is heavy, TFA prepared<br />

me well for the stresses I<br />

face. However, I definitely<br />

took a time-out from my<br />

studies to help celebrate the<br />

marriage of Jenna Heitchue<br />

(E.N.C.) and Brian Boyle<br />

(E.N.C. ’07) in December<br />

2013!<br />

Derrick Green (St. Louis):<br />

Here’s a note in Haiku form.<br />

13-hour days/Maybe more.<br />

Maybe way more/Kids make<br />

it worth it.<br />

Fiona Gruver (N.Y.): I married<br />

Dylan Gruver (N.Y.)! We met<br />

at the TFA holiday party five<br />

years ago.<br />

Brody Hale (G.N.O.): I<br />

completed a Fulbright<br />

English Teaching<br />

Assistantship Grant in South<br />

Korea from 2011-2012, and I<br />

am now in my second year of<br />

law school at Boston College.<br />

Chanel Hampton (St.<br />

Louis): I recently took<br />

on the role of director,<br />

diversity recruitment and<br />

partnerships on our national<br />

recruitment team. This<br />

is a role we’ve never had<br />

before—uncharted water,<br />

infinite possibilities. I am<br />

awe-inspired when I think<br />

about the impact a diverse<br />

body of educators can mean<br />

in partnering with our<br />

communities and students.<br />

Here’s to the 2014 corps!<br />

Brian Hemsworth (Las<br />

Vegas): I piloted an SAT<br />

tutoring program at my<br />

local CrossFit gym to pair<br />

functional fitness with<br />

college preparedness.<br />

Ross Hogan (N.Y.): I am<br />

currently taking classes in<br />

educational administration<br />

in hopes of one day becoming<br />

an assistant principal or<br />

principal in a high-need<br />

urban school. My life mission<br />

is to effect change in our<br />

schools, and I try to work<br />

tirelessly every day to do<br />

that!<br />

Cory Hylton (Indianapolis):<br />

After teaching for three<br />

years, I am thrilled to have<br />

the opportunity to continue<br />

work with a number of<br />

amazing charter schools,<br />

though in a slightly different<br />

capacity. I now work to<br />

ensure the provisioning and<br />

maintenance of technology at<br />

most of my company’s many<br />

charter school clients!<br />

Kendra Johnson (Charlotte):<br />

I was a pioneer in my family<br />

by being a first-generation<br />

college graduate, and now I<br />

have set an example for what<br />

is possible for my students<br />

as well by becoming a firstgeneration<br />

professional<br />

student to receive an<br />

advanced degree!<br />

Tyson Jurgens (Kansas<br />

City): I recently relocated<br />

back to Kansas City, Mo.,<br />

to assume the role of<br />

client success manager at<br />

Netchemia, national leader<br />

in human resource software<br />

exclusively for K-12 districts.<br />

In this role, I am training and<br />

coaching district personnel<br />

to leverage the innovative,<br />

cloud-based TalentEd suite of<br />

products into success in the<br />

classroom.<br />

Kevyn Klein (N.Y.): I live<br />

in San Francisco and<br />

lead a team at Edmodo<br />

called Teacher Support<br />

and Advocacy. Our online<br />

social-learning network<br />

gives students and teachers<br />

the tools to reach their full<br />

potential. I love being the<br />

bridge between educators<br />

and engineers.<br />

Ranked #2 by U.S. News and World Report’s Best Graduate Schools of Education<br />

One Day • SPRING 2014 97


“We must remember that<br />

intelligence is not enough.<br />

Intelligence plus character –<br />

that is the goal of true education.”<br />

Martin Luther King, Jr.<br />

Classical Charter Schools prepare K-8th grade scholars in the South Bronx<br />

to excel in college preparatory high schools. Through a classical curriculum<br />

and highly structured setting, students become liberated scholars and<br />

citizens of impeccable character who achieve proficiency in and<br />

advanced mastery of New York State Performance Standards.<br />

SouthBronxClaSSiCal.org<br />

Marguerite Koelbl (D.C.<br />

Region): I married Sam<br />

Koelbl in Massachusetts<br />

on June 15, 2013. Mark<br />

Osborne (D.C. Region ’07)<br />

served as a groomsman.<br />

Also in attendance were Ryan<br />

Creighan (D.C. Region ’07),<br />

Abbie Wheeler (D.C. Region),<br />

and Camille Crary (D.C.<br />

Region).<br />

Callie Kozlak (D.C. Region):<br />

I am working in Chicago as<br />

the director of public funding<br />

strategy for a national<br />

education nonprofit called<br />

Citizen Schools.<br />

Megan Rose La Roche<br />

(Houston): I can’t believe I<br />

am entering my sixth year<br />

in the classroom! I’m at the<br />

amazing KIPP Sharp College<br />

Prep, which has a fine arts<br />

focus and an unparalleled<br />

culture. I’m excited to say I<br />

bought my first house. Now<br />

it’s time for me to consider<br />

my next steps...grad school?<br />

Social entrepreneurship?<br />

Family?<br />

Andrew Laurens (Metro<br />

Atlanta): Dana Ganapath<br />

(G.N.O. ’10) and I met at KIPP<br />

NOLA and have moved to<br />

Charleston, S.C., as of July<br />

2012. Dana is now manager<br />

of education initiatives<br />

at Charleston Promise<br />

Neighborhood, while I’m<br />

managing Historic Charleston<br />

Foundation’s development<br />

and outreach to new and<br />

existing constituencies in<br />

Lowcountry, S.C.<br />

Brandon Lichtinger<br />

(Chicago): After teaching<br />

for three years as a member<br />

of the 2008 Chicago corps,<br />

I accepted a position at<br />

Chardon High School in<br />

my home state of Ohio. In<br />

addition to teaching English,<br />

I also direct the fall plays.<br />

This year, we will stage<br />

a production of Thornton<br />

Wilder’s The Skin Of Our<br />

Teeth.<br />

Krizia Liquido (N.Y.): I moved<br />

to Barcelona, Spain, one year<br />

ago, just a few months after I<br />

got married in New York City<br />

(where I was placed by TFA<br />

and met my husband!), and<br />

we now have a 9-month-old<br />

baby girl. I serve as founding<br />

editor of Verily Magazine,<br />

where I’m committed to<br />

educating all women through<br />

strong lifestyle journalism.<br />

Jordan Loring (Chicago): In<br />

the two years since I have<br />

come on board at Arizona<br />

Charter Academy, the third<br />

grade percent passing AIMS<br />

math has improved from 35<br />

percent to 87 percent. This is<br />

due to the hard work that my<br />

colleagues and I have put in<br />

with the support from admin.<br />

Next year? 100 percent!<br />

Matias Manzano (Miami-<br />

Dade): It was a wonderful five<br />

years of service that I gave to<br />

the Miami-Dade community.<br />

I can say with pride that<br />

last year, 97 percent of my<br />

students passed the seventh<br />

grade mathematics FCAT<br />

with 78 percent scoring a 4 or<br />

better. I am back home in New<br />

York City now in law school.<br />

Anne McGuirk (Memphis):<br />

I returned to my placement<br />

region after a year away and<br />

am currently serving as an<br />

assistant principal in a school<br />

founded by one of my fellow<br />

’08 Memphis corps members.<br />

Jesse Metruk (E.N.C.): I<br />

married Stephanie Peirce on<br />

Aug. 10, 2013. Jeff Edwards<br />

(’07), Meg Eberle (’09), Megan<br />

Roberts (’07), and Meredith<br />

(Camby) Hartman (’07), all<br />

TFA E.N.C. alumni, attended.<br />

Lynsay Mills (G.N.O.): I’m<br />

teaching English I at Sci<br />

Academy. Love to G.N.O. ’08,<br />

especially those still in New<br />

Orleans—cannot believe<br />

we’ve been at this for six<br />

years!<br />

Mariel Montoney (E.N.C.): I<br />

have recently taken on a new<br />

role as regional manager<br />

with Envision. In this role, I<br />

educate, motivate, and inspire<br />

over 10,000 high school<br />

students a year from all over<br />

the nation that are interested<br />

in the field of medicine.<br />

Aubrey Nelson (Memphis):<br />

Lars Nelson (Memphis ’09)<br />

and I were proud to welcome<br />

our baby boy Henry Donald<br />

into the world in March 2013.<br />

Henry is a healthy baby boy<br />

and proud of his dad as Lars<br />

returns to his placement<br />

school, Freedom Preparatory<br />

Academy, after two years as<br />

an MTLD, to found their high<br />

school with the ninth grade<br />

class. #meanttobememphis<br />

Patrick O’Shea (E.N.C.):<br />

Sarah O’Shea (E.N.C.) and<br />

I welcomed our son, Henry<br />

James O’Shea, to our family in<br />

February 2013.<br />

Elizabeth Oviedo (Phoenix):<br />

As part of my role as<br />

marketing manager at<br />

Symmetry Software, I run<br />

Calculators For Kids. We<br />

provide class sets of graphing<br />

calculators to low-income<br />

classrooms in Phoenix to<br />

boost math and science<br />

achievement. Find me in the<br />

alumni directory if you’re<br />

interested in getting involved!<br />

Mandy Paquette (Memphis):<br />

I’m working with adults in<br />

my community who, for one<br />

reason or another, function<br />

on a low literacy level.<br />

It’s given me a whole new<br />

awareness of adult illiteracy.<br />

Take a look yourself some<br />

time, and appreciate the<br />

difficulties the people around<br />

you may be facing.<br />

David Pedra (Houston): I<br />

believe in the promise of One<br />

Day so that the students we<br />

teach will see success as<br />

having the option to choose<br />

what they want to do with<br />

their lives.<br />

Jessica Pietrowicz (Hawai‘i):<br />

Since leaving Oahu, Hawaii,<br />

and my placement school<br />

in 2011, I have had the<br />

opportunity to found the<br />

visual arts program at UP<br />

Academy Charter School<br />

of Boston. In addition to<br />

teaching art, I am co-teaching<br />

special education inclusion<br />

music and gym. I’ve also<br />

started an after-school dance<br />

program and am loving it!<br />

Luigi Racanelli (Phoenix): I<br />

graduated from law school<br />

and am clerking for a judge<br />

in the New Jersey Tax Court.<br />

Next year, I will be working at<br />

KPMG in New York City.<br />

Kelly Reinker (G.N.O.):<br />

Before graduating from LSU<br />

Law in May 2013, I started a<br />

program called Street Law.<br />

Street Law engages law<br />

students with Baton Rouge<br />

public high school students<br />

to talk about legal issues<br />

relevant to their lives. It<br />

provides them with positive<br />

interactions with the legal<br />

system and fosters critical<br />

thinking about how the law<br />

affects their lives.<br />

Anthony Reynoso (Greater<br />

Philadelphia): My father<br />

recently passed away in a<br />

tragic motorcycle accident.<br />

My TFA family, although<br />

hundreds of miles away, have<br />

helped my family a great<br />

deal in making it through this<br />

tragedy. Much love to Philly.<br />

John Rodrigues (Bay Area):<br />

My wife and I celebrated our<br />

daughter’s first birthday on<br />

Sept. 22, 2013.<br />

Robert Sanborn (South<br />

Dakota): I recently became<br />

the founding business<br />

operations manager for<br />

Rocketship Education<br />

in Nashville, Tenn. The<br />

first Rocketship school in<br />

Tennessee will open its doors<br />

in August 2014.<br />

Renee Schuppener (Chicago):<br />

I work for a healthcare<br />

software company that has<br />

many of the same beliefs<br />

as TFA and indirectly<br />

helps some of the same<br />

underserved populations.<br />

Miysha Shaw (Metro Atlanta):<br />

Hi Teach For America! Right<br />

now, I’m stuck in the library<br />

on 69th and York. I just<br />

started medical school, and<br />

I’ve been super busy studying.<br />

Jennifer Shields (Metro<br />

Atlanta): My daughter Audrey<br />

will be 2 this month!<br />

Antonia Simao (N.Y.): I<br />

am going into my second<br />

year working as a school<br />

psychologist at Success<br />

Academy Bronx 1. Our school<br />

and our sister school, Bronx<br />

2, were among the top scores<br />

in the statewide tests. In<br />

addition to serving this<br />

incredible population, I got<br />

married in June 2013.<br />

Ashley Snowden<br />

(Indianapolis): Facilitating for<br />

a homeschool organization<br />

was one of the best things<br />

that happened to me. I was<br />

able to couple my public<br />

education experience with<br />

my newfound knowledge<br />

for a powerful reward!<br />

Now, I’m confident I know<br />

the (educational) road I will<br />

travel!<br />

Erika Starr (Greater<br />

Philadelphia): I married the<br />

amazing man who has been<br />

helping me grade since my<br />

first year in the corps, John<br />

Celley, on Oct. 19, 2013!<br />

David Swank (South Dakota):<br />

My wife, Katey Lee Swank<br />

(South Dakota ’06), and I<br />

are expecting our second<br />

child. We continue to teach in<br />

the region.<br />

Alex Teece (Hawai‘i): Aloha to<br />

all my ’08’s from Hawai‘i!!<br />

Jasmin Torres (Connecticut):<br />

I’ve moved to Chicago to be<br />

an MTLD and am loving the<br />

windy city!<br />

Jerry Tsai (Las Vegas): I am<br />

vice president of Acceptd,<br />

the world’s largest arts<br />

admissions and recruiting<br />

network. We are passionate<br />

about providing students an<br />

easy and streamlined way<br />

to connect and apply to arts<br />

opportunities.<br />

Kathryn Ulrich (Metro<br />

Atlanta): “I am teaching<br />

kindergarten?” I thought<br />

to myself the night before<br />

teachers came back to school<br />

this fall. While excited, I was<br />

also nervous about my own<br />

ability to work with students<br />

that are so young. Reflecting<br />

now, I am reminded about<br />

how much we continue to<br />

learn and grow our practice,<br />

no matter how long we have<br />

been in the classroom.<br />

Melania Valverde (N.Y.): I am<br />

excited to still be working in<br />

New York City after having<br />

been a corps member here.<br />

As a program coordinator of<br />

college admissions at SEO<br />

Scholars, I get to work with<br />

highly motivated, low-income<br />

high school students. I can’t<br />

think of a better way to build<br />

on all the knowledge and<br />

skills I acquired through TFA.<br />

Nayda Verier-Taylor (L.A.):<br />

I am a second-year law<br />

student at the University of<br />

Michigan Law School. I spent<br />

last summer working for the<br />

Child Advocacy Law Clinic in<br />

Ann Arbor, Mich., advocating<br />

for youth involved in neglect<br />

and abuse proceedings.<br />

Tony Walker (St. Louis):<br />

I am proud to have cofounded<br />

a new initiative<br />

within Uplift Education.<br />

Each of our schools is now<br />

equipped with a licensed<br />

mental health professional<br />

to address student concerns<br />

and provide counseling and<br />

intervention. In addition, I am<br />

keeping busy with a small<br />

private counseling practice<br />

specializing in LGBT youth<br />

and adolescent issues,<br />

and am also a full-time<br />

Ph.D. student at Texas Tech<br />

University.<br />

Thurmeka Ward (N.Y.): I<br />

am serving as a learning<br />

specialist at the Girls Prep<br />

Lower East Side Middle<br />

School. I am on the board of<br />

a nonprofit organization, Far<br />

More Precious, that promotes<br />

self-worth and self-esteem<br />

in young girls. I am forming<br />

an organization that will<br />

empower women to pursue<br />

their dreams! I am currently<br />

98 One Day • SPRING 2014 One Day • SPRING 2014 99<br />

One Day FP Ad_04-08-13.indd 3<br />

4/8/2013 1:45:37 PM


writing a play, and I sing in<br />

the off-Broadway play Sing<br />

Harlem Sing.<br />

Katherine White (Houston):<br />

I finished my master’s in<br />

public administration and got<br />

married to my husband, Greg,<br />

who supported me through<br />

my years in the corps.<br />

Alison Wilson (Metro<br />

Atlanta): I graduated from the<br />

full-time MBA program at the<br />

University of North Carolina<br />

Kenan-Flagler Business<br />

School in May 2013, and I am<br />

now working at a job I love as<br />

an associate brand manager<br />

of ketchup at Heinz.<br />

Ryan Worley (G.N.O.): I<br />

recently started working for<br />

Afton Partners LLC, which<br />

provides financial consulting<br />

and related operational<br />

advisory services to public<br />

school districts, CMOs,<br />

foundations and private<br />

investors who support<br />

education reform.<br />

Linda Yu (L.A.): I’ve just<br />

graduated from law school<br />

and can’t wait to be part<br />

of the TFA movement for<br />

equality and educational<br />

opportunities.<br />

2009<br />

Charla Agnoletti (Colorado):<br />

By creating a community<br />

advisor position at Bruce<br />

Randolph School in Denver,<br />

I am strengthening the<br />

district shift to change school<br />

discipline paradigms from<br />

punitive to restorative. Our<br />

unique model of preventative<br />

and responsive approaches<br />

deepens restorative practices<br />

schoolwide to create a<br />

transformative school culture<br />

and community.<br />

Elizabeth Allen (Colorado):<br />

I am at the University of<br />

Washington School of Law,<br />

volunteering with immigrant<br />

populations and working on<br />

child welfare policy. Come<br />

visit!<br />

Margarita Alway (Delta):<br />

After completing my master’s<br />

degree in music education,<br />

I’m starting my first year<br />

teaching K-6 music with<br />

Aspire Public Schools in<br />

Oakland, Calif. I miss the<br />

Delta, but love exploring the<br />

Bay Area!<br />

Tim Anderson (Colorado): I<br />

recently transferred within<br />

Google to a new role with the<br />

Play for Education team.<br />

Kyle Bailey (Oklahoma): I<br />

feel so lucky to have spent my<br />

time in Tulsa, Okla., with my<br />

wonderful kiddos and equally<br />

lucky to have an impact on<br />

thousands of pupils across<br />

the pond with Teach First-<br />

West Midlands! Really feel<br />

as though I’m part of a global<br />

movement.<br />

Adnan Barqawi (Delta): I<br />

started my executive MBA<br />

at Owen Graduate School of<br />

Management, and in addition<br />

to my role at Asurion, I am<br />

the director of the Teach for<br />

America/Asurion Strategic<br />

Partnership, which allocated<br />

$250,000 to our partnership<br />

effots.<br />

Jayda Batchelder (Dallas -<br />

Fort Worth): As founder of<br />

Education Opens Doors, Inc,<br />

my team and I are partnering<br />

with schools and teachers in<br />

Dallas to empower students to<br />

strategically navigate through<br />

high school to college. We do<br />

so by raising students’ college<br />

expectations, confidence,<br />

and understanding of college<br />

knowledge and skills.<br />

Jackie Bello (Baltimore): I am<br />

working with Quad Learning,<br />

a startup that collaborates<br />

with community colleges to<br />

offer honors programs. It’s<br />

a lower-cost, higher-quality<br />

pathway to a four-year<br />

degree. A lot of our model<br />

is built around our student<br />

services advising, which I’m<br />

directing.<br />

Georgina Blackett (Bay<br />

Area): I have just moved back<br />

to my hometown (New York<br />

City) after teaching at my<br />

placement school in Potrero<br />

Hill, San Francisco, for the<br />

last four years and am looking<br />

to connect with other TFA<br />

alums in New York City!<br />

Adam Bonnington (New<br />

Jersey): I am in my third year<br />

of medical school, working<br />

daily in the hospital and<br />

clinics. I am seeing the effect<br />

that a lack of resources and<br />

education has on the overall<br />

well-being of individuals in<br />

low-income communities.<br />

Morgan Bowling (Baltimore):<br />

I am currently a second-year<br />

medical student at the West<br />

Virginia School of Osteopathic<br />

Medicine. I hope to go into<br />

pediatrics and specialize in<br />

community-based medicine.<br />

Niketa Brar (D.C. Region): On<br />

Oct. 13, 2013, I married fellow<br />

math teacher Joe Kurstin in a<br />

small ceremony in Oakland,<br />

Calif.<br />

Chantalle Carles (E.N.C.):<br />

Stefan Schropp (Charlotte)<br />

and I are engaged. We met<br />

while interning on Capitol Hill<br />

five years ago.<br />

Rebecca Cassidy (New<br />

Jersey): This May I will have<br />

completed my master’s<br />

of public policy from the<br />

University of Michigan’s<br />

Gerald R. Ford School of<br />

Public Policy.<br />

David Chen (Bay Area): As<br />

a full-time MBA student at<br />

MIT Sloan, I am constantly<br />

thinking about ways in which<br />

the ingenuity of business<br />

can create opportunities<br />

to improve the quality of<br />

education for all students.<br />

It is an exciting time for the<br />

intersection of enterprise and<br />

education!<br />

Megan Clayburn (R.G.V.):<br />

After two years in South<br />

Korea, I moved back to Texas<br />

with my husband. We’re both<br />

loving El Paso’s culture and<br />

excellent hiking/climbing<br />

scene. While he’s stationed<br />

at Fort Bliss, I am pursuing a<br />

master’s in literacy, working<br />

with wonderful kids at an<br />

after-school program, and<br />

teaching adult ESL classes.<br />

Lauren Comber (Baltimore): I<br />

recently joined the missiondriven<br />

team at American<br />

Honors in D.C. after four<br />

years of living and teaching in<br />

Baltimore City. I got married<br />

on June 29, 2013 in Baltimore<br />

and am now settling into the<br />

wonderful married life in<br />

Columbia, Md.<br />

Michelle Crawford (L.A.):<br />

In 2012/2013, I successfully<br />

completed my K-12<br />

administrative credential<br />

and education administrative<br />

master’s degree. I am<br />

currently working as an<br />

outreach director for<br />

Educators4Excellence in Los<br />

Angeles.<br />

Charlie Cummings (St.<br />

Louis): I’ve been working<br />

as a matchmaker between<br />

outstanding educators and<br />

policymakers since joining<br />

America Achieves in May<br />

2013. It’s exciting to support<br />

decision-makers who want to<br />

hear from the real experts—<br />

teachers and principals—<br />

when they’re working on<br />

policies that affect systems,<br />

schools, classrooms and<br />

students.<br />

Juan Danzilo (Houston):<br />

I am working to graduate<br />

from Duke University Fuqua<br />

School of Business. Due to<br />

get married to fellow Houston<br />

’09 corps member Katherine<br />

Beck in May 2014! We met<br />

in TFA.<br />

Chris Deal (Kansas City):<br />

Tracy and I welcomed our<br />

first child, Aidan Jerald, on<br />

June 11, 2013. Tracy is going<br />

to be staying home with him<br />

but will continue coaching<br />

basketball in the winter. We<br />

also bought an acreage with<br />

some farmland around it, and<br />

I have started farming with<br />

my dad on the side in addition<br />

to my engineering position.<br />

Angela Dixon (Phoenix): I<br />

recently purchased my first<br />

home in the same area I grew<br />

up. I am substitute teaching<br />

in this area as well and enjoy<br />

being part of the community<br />

I serve. I am focusing on<br />

growing my family but<br />

am excited to get my own<br />

classroom again once my<br />

children are older.<br />

George Dong (Chicago): I am<br />

the founder and co-CEO of<br />

Education In Sight. Check out<br />

our website, www.educationin-sight.org,<br />

and help us<br />

ensure that all students<br />

around the world will be able<br />

to see the board clearly in the<br />

classroom!<br />

Meaghan Dowdle (Chicago):<br />

I am currently working in<br />

Lawrence, Mass., in a district<br />

turnaround school that is<br />

modeled after our charter<br />

management organization’s<br />

historically successful<br />

charter school. I am proud to<br />

be working alongside several<br />

TFA alumni and current corps<br />

members from around the<br />

country. We believe every<br />

child deserves the best<br />

education and are dedicating<br />

all we have to providing it!<br />

Jamila Dugan-Eloi (D.C.<br />

Region): I love the corps<br />

of D.C. ’09! It is always so<br />

inspiring to see how many of<br />

us are still in the classroom<br />

and in education as a whole!<br />

Much love to all the 2009<br />

corps members out there!<br />

Stephanie Evans (Bay Area):<br />

I taught for two years as<br />

an SDC-NSH teacher in my<br />

placement school and am<br />

now entering into my third<br />

year as an SDC-NSH teacher<br />

in a different school. This<br />

is the first time I’ve had the<br />

same students from sixth<br />

grade until eighth grade.<br />

Watching them grow and<br />

feeling the bond strengthen<br />

between us makes every day<br />

worthwhile.<br />

Kyle Fahsel (E.N.C.):<br />

Stacie Payne (E.N.C.) and I<br />

were married almost four<br />

years after meeting at our<br />

placement school, NCHS<br />

West!<br />

Cary Finnegan (Connecticut):<br />

I finished up the 2012-2013<br />

school year in New York<br />

City, where I was teaching<br />

third grade at Harlem Prep<br />

Elementary, a Democracy<br />

Prep school. Currently I<br />

am teaching third grade<br />

in Jamaica Plain, Mass.,<br />

at Match Community Day<br />

Charter School. I have loved<br />

being back in the classroom;<br />

third graders are the best!<br />

Lyric Flood (Houston): As<br />

a leader in the movement, I<br />

am a second-year assistant<br />

principal as well as an eighth<br />

g