How I Found Room to Grow [Part 2]

Two years ago: The intensity of my residency made graduate school seem like a walk in the park. I emerged a year later confident that I was as prepared as one can be to teach in a high-performing “no excuses” charter school. The year helped me reprioritize what I wanted needed in a teaching environment before I could effectively achieve positive classroom outcomes.

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Armed with my new, abbreviated list…

- track record of high academic achievement for English language learners and students on the margins

- supportive administrators who are first and foremost instructional leaders

- teaching faculty who are committed to excellence and the advancement of the profession

- strong behavioral system and explicit character development.

…I hopped a plane to Denver to interview at a couple of high performing charter schools. Altitude sickness aside, the mountains worked their magic! Three days later I ecstatically checked each item off the list as I rode the SkyRide back down Peña Boulevard to the airport.

A year and nine months ago: I joined the team at STRIVE Prep Federal, the network’s flagship campus. YES. I knew it was the right fit then, but each month my interactions with colleagues and students served to reinforce this conclusion.

Five months ago: Teaching positions for the first ever STRIVE Prep elementary school went up on the website. I couldn’t apply fast enough for a lead teaching position at the campus, set to open Fall 2014.

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Today: I’m beyond thrilled to be a part of the founding team at STRIVE Prep Ruby Hill! I couldn’t be more tickled about teaching the younger siblings of my current students. We have a team of rock stars, and it is a blessing to continue to serve the families of Southwest Denver. As a method of processing this learning year, I’ll be blogging about the experience of working in Southwest Denver, founding a charter school, transitioning from middle to elementary, and transitioning from a single to co-teacher instructional model.  


How I Found Room to Grow [Part 1]

Five years ago: Light bulb moment. College-senior-me realized that what I really wanted was to teach elementary school, specifically English language learners.

Four years ago: I began a one-year Masters of Teaching program in K12 Literacy and ESL.  Those 12 months felt like three, but it was just long enough for me to start looking around for an alternative to the traditional district school.

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My checklist went something like:

- elementary (Early readers have my heart.)

- multi-lingual and multi-cultural student body (Experience growing up in this community is what compelled me to teach in the first place.)

- Metro Atlanta (see point above)

- track record of high academic achievement for English language learners and students in the margins

- supportive administrators who are first and foremost instructional leaders

- teaching faculty who are committed to excellence and the advancement of the profession

- strong behavioral systems and explicit character development

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Three years ago: My google search for “elementary-charter-school-english-language-learners-refugees” sent me to Match Education, a Boston-based charter network. I applied and accepted a spot in their Match Teacher Residency (MTR) program. My dad’s raised eyebrows weren’t enough to deter me from a promised 70hr. work week. On a stipend. But it was too good to pass up: be a part of the founding year of an elementary school focused specifically on Boston Public Schools’ diverse community of English language learners?! Love.  That summer I made the 12hr+ journey from Atlanta to Boston in my Corolla -- trunk full of picture books, early readers, and potted plants (plants fared so-so).