As a teacher, Caroline learned that kids are willing to work hard and can excel if you have their trust—and that trust takes honesty and hard work. After the corps she attended Yale Law, but stayed connected with her former students. She also taught part time in New Haven’s public schools, served as president of the Project for Law and Education, and participated in her university’s education advocacy clinic. She saw her teaching experience continue to play out in both her direction and her abilities. “In moot court at Yale, a professor asked me if I had been in debate. I hadn’t. My ability to parcel out information, speak directly and with poise, was all from teaching.” She credits TFA with helping her find her purpose, and with supporting her development as a teacher, and her career and advocacy as an alum.
Caroline Van Zile
Q & A
It profoundly altered my direction. My students will always be with me. I wanted to find the best way to help them in the long run. Changing the education system is the best way to impact our future, and TFA gave me the skillset needed to achieve a legal career through which I can be part of that.
I’m not sure what has felt weightier, clerking for a Supreme Court Justice or being responsible for the education of 12-year-olds. In both, you must break down complex topics into digestible formats. I’ve learned patience, and to speak confidently with poise. These skills have been so valuable for me.
I do pro-bono education work for foster youth in DC. Students in the foster care system face perhaps the worst opportunity gap in the nation. My goal is to ensure these students have access to all the educational options that children at home with their biological parents enjoy.