A young woman with long straight brown hair smiling in front of a red decorated wall, wearing a pink dress.

Dr. Kalpana Rao

Job Title
Principal
Corps Year: 
1998
Corps Region: 
Los Angeles

"As Teach For America alumni of color, our privilege is both a blessing and an obligation to serve."

Kalpana started her career as a 1998 corps member, teaching 4th grade in Compton. After four years in the classroom, she returned home to study school leadership and curriculum. Kalpana then began researching the role of leadership in implementation of policies in various urban schools. While writing a dissertation on that topic, she led the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction in the creation of a toolkit designed to support struggling districts and schools in their school improvement efforts.

After completing her degree, Kalpana's heart led her back to the classroom. She worked as a teacher for Milwaukee Public Schools in a variety of grades. She later apprenticed under a Boston Public Schools’ leader while taking reflective coursework at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. Afterwards, she moved to Denver to join the city's progressive project with a new teacher evaluation system. While in Denver, Kalpana penned the first version of "Framework of Effective Teaching," which is used for observing educators. She also led the work of Peer Observers—recent teachers who serve as peer evaluators for teachers. After this experience, Kalpana returned to a turnaround school to serve as an assistant principal, and she has continued working in similar schools, serving as a principal resident and now as principal.