Welcome to my blog. I hope you’ll keep reading, and I welcome feedback about my opinions, content, quality of writing, and whatever else comes to mind. My goal is to provide informed perspective on a variety of issues within the realm of education reform. Although I am no longer an official, full-time educator myself, my passion for working with youth and providing them with opportunities for success remains undiminished. I believe that change will come only when enough people work for it, and I hope to raise awareness in order to foster that motivation for change.
Why should you pay any attention to what I have to say? Decide for yourself; here’s my entire background related to education:
I attended a public elementary school with pretty equal numbers of White and Black students. Seeing no quality options for public middle school, my parents sent me to a Catholic school for grades 6-8, and I can say without any hesitation whatsoever that those were the worst three years of my life (though I did get a better education than I would have received in public school). In contrast, I had an amazing high school experience – I attended a themed magnet school with competitive entrance requirements and enjoyed the privilege of learning alongside some of the smartest people I will ever know. I had caring, dedicated teachers who still feel like members of my extended family, and I feel extraordinarily lucky to have had the opportunity to attend that school. My parents were divorcing when I applied to college, so I decided to stay in-state and ended up at an excellent public university where I studied International Relations and Hispanic Studies.
In the interest of full disclosure, I did Teach For America after I graduated. However, my path to TFA was far from typical. I had never thought for more than a second about teaching and applied mostly out of a sense of obligation; everyone with leadership positions at my school applied, so I followed suit without any expecation of acceptance. It took multiple conversations with corps members and TFA staff before I seriously considered accepting the offer, and even then I did so very reluctantly. I had spent all of high school and college intending to pursue a career in international law, and teaching just seemed like too great a detour. Ultimately, I realized that my biggest fear was taking on something so challenging when I already felt burned out from college and was guaranteed to burn out whenever I eventually attended law school. I did not want to set a precedent for myself of not doing something just because it would be hard, so I accepted the offer to teach high school Spanish in the DC area.
I’ve never made a better decision.
Teaching was mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausting. I averaged five hours of sleep per night both years and felt constantly run down, but I also appreciated the sense that I was truly using 100% of my brain all day, every day. Teaching requires extensive problem-solving and creativity, and I drew energy from sitting down at the end of each day and reflecting on how I could improve my instruction or classroom management. I also loved my students. Many of them drove me crazy, but all of them treated me with respect. I learned just as much from them as they learned from me, and I miss them terribly.
I left teaching at the end of my two-year commitment feeling uncertain of what to do with the rest of my life. It wasn’t a great season for law school applications, so I started exploring options within the realm of education. I ended up finding a job in the central office of D.C. Public Schools. I got a front row view of education reform and how the pervasive politics in the system hindered swift change. I won’t say in which office I worked, but suffice it to say that I worked on a very significant issue that I will discuss frequently in this blog.
Dysfunction and under-utilization of skills (all of which are unique to my team and not at all the standard within the central office) prompted my departure from the school system and entry into consulting. It’s a very different world, but I enjoy the opportunity I have to see how a highly functioning organization works. I hope that I can one day bring this perspective back to the education world; I think that if schools were run more like businesses, we’d see major improvements.
So, that’s who I am. I’m no longer a teacher, but I still coach an academic team at a public high school and spend my lunch breaks reading the Education sections of the Washington Post and New York Times. I speak more passionately about education than anything else, and I look forward to sharing ideas and questions with you here!