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How to Create Lasting Change

Elliott Witney (Houston ’97) found his calling as an educator, working on behalf of kids to create lasting change.

By Elliott Witney

March 27, 2019

Making Change That’s Durable

Elliott Witney (Houston ‘97) did not plan to be a teacher and had his sights set on law school. But while serving as a Teach For America corps member, he fell in love with his students and the challenges of teaching. He also found a network of people who were passionate about changing systems so that more kids have the opportunity to succeed.

I did not want to be a teacher. I’m the guy that wanted to do two years of teaching in service to our country and then go off to law school and become a lawyer. My first summer was hot. I was far away from my parents. But I fell in love with the work. I fell in love with my kids. I fell in love with the challenge. I don’t think any teacher is fully prepared to take on that role because it’s just hard to do well.

At my placement school, I had a number of corps members, and we really helped that school become much better, even though we were in our first, second, and third years of teaching. And in some ways, the entrepreneurial spirit I bring to the work now in part was molded through really wanting to do a good job and having people that were willing to help me and learning how to ask questions to improve things.

The idea that a single person has that cape on, is just not realistic. It’s the sum total of all of the different like-minded people that work hard and are creative that make change that’s durable.