How Principals Support Teachers and Students: Network Connections
Cody Whitesell, the school leader at Enlace Academy in Indianapolis, works to unleash the potential of all students as the 'teacher of their teachers.'
October 2, 2019
This series highlights the deep connections between students, corps members, teacher coaches, school staff, and other alumni across the Teach For America network. In this episode, we meet Cody Whitesell, a 2008 Teach For America Indianapolis alum. As the school leader of Enlace Academy, Cody helps ensure teachers are providing great educational opportunities for kids, and that the needs of students and community are addressed.
What It's Like to Teach in the Corps
Meet Krystal Coronado, a 2018 Indianapolis corps member, and science teacher at Enlace Academy, who works to empower kids daily with the support from her TFA network.
How Coaches Support Teachers
In this episode, we meet José González, a TFA teacher impact coach who works closely with corps members during their two-year commitment to help them develop their teaching skills.
Supporting Schools at the District Level
Meet Jamie VanDeWalle, a school administrator who oversees a group of schools that are finding innovative ways to drive strong student achievement.
What It’s Like to Be a Student of a Corps Member
Meet Geraldine, a seventh-grader at Enlace Academy who is passionate about science and dreams of one day becoming a computer programmer.
"I Can't Imagine Doing Anything Else": Transcript
There is no typical day as a school leader, you have to be really quick to put on one hat and take it off and then put on another hat.
I’m Cody Whitesell, I’m a 2008 Indianapolis corps member, and I am currently the school leader at Enlace Academy.
The lesson I think I've had as a school leader is that you get to sort of shape the interactions that you have with kids.
I think being present with kids and their common spaces … building those relationships with those micro-interactions with kids, so they know that they are welcomed not just by their teachers, but also by the teacher of their teachers, which is me. And so, I think that being very intentional—in those very brief moments—interact with kids in a positive and productive way is important, and then on a flip side of that coin is sometimes you do really need to have difficult conversations with kids which are necessary in terms of their growth and development, and so, I choose to approach it as a teachable moment.
A big majority of our kids are English language learners and when I walk into a classroom and I see them grappling with productively these really hard texts, which for them there's an added level of complexity. When I see that perseverance in kids, that's the favorite part of my job … just being able to see the potential that’s realized. Yeah, it's getting to see kids ultimately setting themselves up to be successful, to have access to different possibilities.
TFA has been very influential in how I got to where I am. My experience as a corps member in Teach For America really ignited a passion for the work of educational equity. It also opened up a network of people.
And so when I think about how I got to being a school leader and how I was prepared through the network of people, it’s definitely leveraging the experiences I had with other alumni in order to connect to opportunities.
The reason I do this work because I believe that one day all children will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.
I’ve come to realize that “One Day” is about, is about really every day. It’s all about, like, what are we going to do today to help our kids meet the demands that they need to meet in order to have access to those things. The work is not done yet and I can't imagine doing anything else.