Of the more than 30,000 kids growing up in poverty in Minneapolis, fewer than 3,000 are currently on a path to college.
Teach For America corps members and alumni are part of a growing community effort to put 15,000 low-income students on a path to college by 2020.
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Antonio started second grade at the Hiawatha Leadership Academy in Minneapolis lacking basic, pre-school level skills. He was already so far behind, and if he had continued on the same path, the gap between his grade level and skill level would have only increased over the next few years. By the time Antonio entered middle school, his future would have looked grim. Statistically, it would have been unlikely for him to graduate from high school or attend college.
But Antonio took a different path. His second grade teacher, Renee Hendrickson (Twin Cities Corps '10), set high expectations for Antonio's studies and worked relentlessly with him to improve his skills. By the end of the school year, Antonio was reading on a third grade level: in one year, he had closed the gap between his skill level and his grade level. At a school like Hiawatha Leadership Academy, recently named the #2 school in Minnesota under the state’s new accountability system, and #1 for schools that receive Title I funding, Antonio had a shot—something we need to replicate in schools across the region.
Most people don't associate Minnesota with massive educational inequity, but in 2009, students from low-income communities in our state ranked 49th in math and 46th in reading out of 50 states when compared to students from middle- and high-income backgrounds.
Our vision is that by 2020, we can ensure 15,000 more low-income students in Minneapolis are in transformational classrooms that will prepare them for a path of expanded opportunities. We know the critical ingredient is leadership—in classrooms, at great schools, at the school district level, and as citizens and policy makers shaping the public discussion.
Our 90 corps members and more than 300 alumni are among those leading transformational classrooms and schools, as well as other nonprofit and community organizations. They are committed to partnering effectively with families, schools, and communities to ensure that our work advances the broader good for all children.
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Her motivation to become a teacher stemmed from her experiences in public schools throughout the Twin Cities as a student and volunteer. She is thrilled to now be leading Teach For America’s efforts in the Twin Cities to ensure all students have the opportunities and education they deserve. As a teacher, her students earned the highest reading comprehension results in the county and she learned the importance of community and personal relationships in providing students a network of support. Determined to ensure all students experience success and joy in school and believing teachers are a critical component of that success, she led recruitment and training programs across Teach For America from 2001 until 2012. Most recently, she was a vice president of teacher preparation, support, and development, and was responsible for the summer training for more than 3,000 new teachers per year.
Crystal is a 1999 graduate of Colby College and received an Ed. M. in education policy and management in 2006 from Harvard University, where she was awarded one of two Leadership in Education awards.