Alum Spotlight: Connor Skelly (Bay Area Corps ‘12)
Meet Connor Skelly (Bay Area Corps ‘12), a nonprofit leader at Bridgespan, an organization that works with other nonprofits to develop strategy. Connor works in teams of 4-7 fellow consultants on strategy projects with large nonprofits or funders (e.g. YMCA, Gates Foundation).
January 22, 2019
What inspired you to join Teach For America?
I grew up in a family of educators, including my father who was the principal at our local high school. My siblings and I spent countless days as kids palling around the high school and hanging out in classrooms with teachers. Therefore, despite studying business, education was always something familiar to me and teaching was a profession I always admired. Some of my mentors at Notre Dame joined TFA after college, and after meeting other TFA corps members and alums, I knew it was a community I wanted to join after graduation. Through the corps, I taught 7th grade math at KIPP Bayview Academy in San Francisco. In my second year of teaching, I also served as Dean of 7th grade.
Favorite memory from the classroom?
I am still close with most of my former students and their families, and it has been exciting watching them progress through high school and into college. One of my favorite students is now at SF State, and I wrote her letter of recommendation and helped her get scholarships. This upcoming spring, my newborn son is going to be baptized by her father. He is a deacon at the Catholic Church connected to KIPP Bayview, bringing it full circle to where we all met over six years ago!
How did your experience in the corps impact your career pathway?
I knew I wanted to stay in the social sector in some capacity, and there are many TFA alums working at Bridgespan. I would still love to go back to teaching at some point, depending on family circumstances – it is the most meaningful, most satisfying…, albeit the hardest, job I’ve ever had.
What skills from the classroom have you been able to translate to your current role?
As a new teacher, you have to develop skills quickly, as the students and families you serve are counting on you. In my role, I often use the work-planning and presentation skills I developed in the classroom. Additionally, Bridgespan does considerable work with education nonprofits or funders, so I’ve been able to pull content knowledge and relationships from my TFA experience to support those projects.
What do you appreciate about the TFA community?
I most appreciate the TFA alumni community. I didn’t know when I entered the corps how many lifelong friendships I would develop. There are over one thousand TFA alums in San Francisco, and is powerful to be part of a network of other curious, motivated folks who share a similar experience and a similar commitment to addressing injustice.
One piece of advice you have for our incoming corps of teachers?
Have fun teaching! Children are innately curious beings. They want to learn. It is on you as a teacher to create the environment where they are learning and therefore having fun. This is damn hard, especially as a rookie, but if you are willing to put in the work and build the relationships, there is nothing better!
Also, join the TFA book club with me! We are on our 26th book.
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