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Fall Symposium: Deepening Learning and Connection across our Network

Our first annual Fall Symposium brought together 200 corps members and alumni to engage in conversation about issues to collectively address in pursuit of educational equity and excellence for all Indianapolis students.

Corps members talking to one another

By Cece Zhou

September 27, 2019

“In Indianapolis, we have a long way to go, yet we are seeing evidence of progress systems-wide,” Executive Director Amar Patel told 200 corps members and alumni at the opening session of our Fall Symposium. “We, as educators, as advocates, and concerned citizens, do well by looking at and interrogating what seems to be driving that progress, and what among those things are things we’re thinking about as we chart our course moving forward.”

At our first annual Fall Symposium, the TFA Indy leadership team shared our regional strategy and provided space for corps members and alumni to facilitate conversations with one another on issues they viewed as most important to elevate in our community. During the opening, JuDonne Hemingway, Managing Director of Corps Member Development, also identified key elements TFA Indy believes will accelerate progress towards our community vision, including: investing in conditions and strategies that have driven progress; strengthening partnerships and coalitions across the city; and centering the voices of students and families most directly impacted to shape the direction.

“Through an empowering education, we envision the day when all Indianapolis children lead lives of their choosing and collectively contribute to a more vibrant and just city.”

Community Vision, TFA Indy

Over 20 alumni-led conversations occurred at the event and covered topics including identity-based issues, trauma-informed practices, workforce development and innovation, and sustainable solutions for mental wellbeing. Attendees cited the event as “energizing” and “valuable,” noting the importance of hearing from alumni across the network speak on equity from a variety of sectors, viewpoints, and experiences.

In closing, regional staff, as well as chairs of member advisory and programming boards, called on our network to continue these conversations and take initiative to broaden their own learning and connections across the community.

“One thing is clear: we have to confront inequity on many fronts,” shared Donavan White (Indy ’12), board chair of the Collective Indianapolis. “So whether you’ve figured out how to play a role, or you’re not sure yet, we hope that today you leave reenergized and know that there’s a community surrounding you that wants to help you figure it out.”

Jack Kellerman (Indy ’18), culture committee chair of the Corps Member Advisory Council (CMAC), added: “We hope the conversations you’ve had today have reshaped how you see Indy, the education landscape, and given you more resolve to our One Day mission.”

When surveyed, over 95% of attendees agreed that the symposium helped deepen their conviction in the role they want to play in our collective work, and more than 91% affirmed that the TFA network is among those they value the most.

“We’re encouraged by the strong positive response and will be developing structures and spaces for alumni and corps members to further these conversations moving forward,” shared Anna Watson, managing director of network impact.

Over the next few weeks and months, we’ll be elevating some of these conversations and taking a deeper look into how alumni and corps members have continued to engage with issues. In addition, our Network Impact team offers other event and opportunities throughout the year to support learning and connections, including the Investing in Innovation Fellowship, a new initiative introduced at the Fall Symposium that seeks to financially invest in innovative ideas and will open for applications in December.

Below are the topics of alumni-led sessions during our Fall Symposium:

  • Who We Are and How We Lead: Equity Across Identities
    • Abi Bouwma (Indy ’17): Leveraging intersectional curriculum and identity-based learning to affirm LGBTQ+ students
    • Shon Harris (Indy ’15): Strides IPS is making around racial equity across the district
    • JuDonne Hemingway (Indy ’11): Training, support, and retention of teachers of color
  • Moments of Vulnerability: Meeting People Where They Are
    • Matt Whitley (Indy ’12): How violence against women impacts families and Central Indiana communities
    • Sheila Dollaske (Chicago ’08) and Christina Lear (Indy ’10): Supporting all high school students to overcome barriers in a school choice landscape
    • Allissa Impink (Indy ’15) and Brianna Stephens (Indy ’17): Addressing gaps in educational systems, specifically when it comes to substitute teachers
  • Learning and Leading in the 21st Century
    • Ben Carter (Indy ’08): Connecting education and the workforce and enhancing local community partnerships for student and school impact
    • Alicia Kielmovitch (S. Louisiana ’09): Education and workforce policies that drive talent development, attraction, and retention across the state
    • Stephanie Bothun (Indy ’08): Innovations and evolutions in workforce development and partnerships for all people to secure economic freedom
  • Working in Partnership Across Schools and Networks
    • Brian Dickey (Indy ’13): Autonomy, accountability, and innovation in practice in our education system
    • Tom Hakim (Indy ’09): Indiana school district efforts and experiences outside of IPS boundaries
    • Craig Meister (Indy ’12): Connecting our network globally to realize educational equity and excellence for all students through the lens of Teach For All
  • Caring for Educators: Solutions that Sustain the Work
    • Ron Sandlin (Indy ’08): Sustainable strategies for increasing teacher pay across the state, with current policy considerations
    • Ronak Shah (Indy ’12): Keeping teachers in the classroom and sustainable actions
    • Rick Anderson (Memphis ’11): Personal and professional routines to sustain educators within this demand and urgent work
  • Being Well: Students and Communities
    • Lauren East Smith (Indy ’13): Embedding social-emotional learning into everyday instruction to enhance our academic curriculum
    • Katie Morgan (Indy ’10): Adult education and filling the middle skills gap to address poverty’sgenerational impact
    • Shivani Goyal (Indy ’15): Exploring the best support for practitioners working with students facing trauma
  • Building a Broad and Diverse Coalition
    • Kyle Bender (Indy ’12): How alumni working outside of education can hold each other accountable for creating conditions for a more vibrant and just city
    • Emily Masengale (St. Louis ’06): Intersectionality of community resources and educational entities to help connect families we serve
    • Alex Moseman (Indy ’11): Building a broad teacher pipeline to addressing the teacher shortage and need within IPS schools
Materials at Fall Symposium