Robyn Fehrman

Last week, the school board of Durham Public Schools opted not to extend its contract with TFA. Durham is one of the 18 communities in North Carolina with which TFA partners and, as the district where I send my 5-year-old to kindergarten every morning, it’s a place that matters to me deeply. While I am proud to know that so many parents and principals contacted the board to express their support for continued partnership and describe the influence corps members have in their students’ lives, I also worry about the implications of the decision.

June marked my 15th year with Teach For America. At that moment in the summer of 1999, I was living in Houston, TX and teaching 10th-grade English at Jefferson Davis High School at TFA’s summer training Institute. (And please sit with that for a moment—a high school named after the president of the Confederacy and attended by predominately students of color.) On the first day of teaching, I got a cut-out heart from my advisor that simply said, “Teach your children with love.” On the last, I received a completion certificate from the veteran Houston Independent School District teacher that mentored me, proclaiming that I was a “natural” teacher—a gesture of kindness and confidence I’ve never forgotten.

This summer, I have incorporated what I learned then and across many years of experience with TFA—as a teacher, a campus recruiter, and a self-proclaimed Institute nut who’s spent eight summers working for the development of our teachers (as an advisor, school director, Phoenix Institute director, and ultimately vice president of Institute)—to implement a new evolution of our training model for our corps members in the Twin Cities. Excitingly, this evolution has not only happened in Minnesota, but also took shape in different forms in different places—several communities around the country, like mine, have launched a local training model in partnership with the partners we work with year-round. Our national Institutes, which continue to prepare the vast majority of all TFA teachers, have also adapted with community partners to best support student learning and prevent the summer slide, while still preparing teachers for their fall classrooms across the country.

(Photo credit: John Ashley)

This fall, Teach For America Charlotte will launch its first-ever alumni teaching fellowship—a program designed to significantly enhance the classroom-level supports and ongoing professional development opportunities available to corps members who continue to teach past their initial commitment. As a member of the alumni affairs team that will help bring the program to life, I find myself excited about the program both for the educators it will help build and for the one to whom it pays tribute: Principal Leroy “Pop” Miller, a genuine hero in the history of Charlotte public education.

After starting his career as a teacher at West Mecklenburg High School, Pop Miller spent 37 years in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, serving kids and families and demonstrating an unflagging commitment to educational excellence for all. When he passed away last summer, thousands of Charlotteans gathered to honor his legacy. They remembered him as teacher, principal, and as the no-nonsense leader our city looked to when it came time to help navigate the complexities of school desegregation in 1970s. As reported by the Charlotte Observer upon his passing, local administrators viewed him as “an educator’s educator,” someone who “really knew how to get the most out of people.”

Yesterday, we gathered with nearly 1,000 members of our community in Las Vegas, Nevada at our annual Educators Conference for a special town hall event. Joining us were many others across the country who tuned into the broadcast online. We spoke about the current moment in our movement for educational equity, and the role our broad community of corps members, alumni, staff, and partners can play in moving it forward. 

We also had the opportunity to answer questions from the audience. Each of us came away from the event feeling truly energized by the dedicated educators around us, and we were reminded just how powerful this movement is.
Below is a video of the livestream, as well as the text of our speeches.


Justin Tandingan

This July 17–19 in Oakland, California, Teach For America will host its first-ever Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Corps Member Summit. This convening will be a unique opportunity for more than 100 second-year AAPI teachers and staff members to come together and reflect on their own identities—as individuals, teachers, and community members.

Andrea Pursley

(Photo credit: Pete)

On July 17th from 3:30pm-4:30pm EDT at the Teach For America Educators Conference in Las Vegas, TFA co-CEOs Elisa Villanueva Beard and Matt Kramer will host a Town Hall to reflect on where TFA is as a community, as well as discussing the opportunities and challenges on which the organization is focusing. While the Town Hall’s live audience will include more than 1,000 people, it will also be available as a live stream for all corps members, alumni, staff, and community members who want to join—and ask questions.

The Town Hall kicks off an annual two-day conference that is designed to support educators who work directly in schools and school systems. This fall, TFA anticipates that more than 11,000 alumni will serve as pre-K-12 classroom teachers, nearly 900 will serve as school principals, and about 220 alumni will work in school systems leadership. Approximately two-thirds of TFA’s 37,000 alumni work in education more broadly, including in positions like instructional coaches and assistant principals, as well as in roles in higher education and in non-profit organizations working directly with schools.


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We believe education is the most pressing issue facing our nation. On Pass the Chalk, we'll share our takes on the issues of the day, join the online conversation about education, and tell stories from classrooms, schools, and communities around the nation.

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