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Looking Back On 25 Years: 2008 With Juan Acevedo

Oh, 2008 -- folks were just beginning to pick sides between Team Edward and Team Jacob, Bey and Jay were making it official, and a young man named Barack Obama was being elected into the highest office in the land.

Juan Acevedo

By The TFA Editorial Team

May 7, 2019

Name: Juan Acevedo

Hometown: New York, NY

Corps year: 2008

Current location: Camden, NJ

Current position: Founding Principal with Opportunity Young Network at New Jersey's first alternative charter school, LEAD.​ 

Where did you grow up? 

​My home is New Jersey, as I was raised in Union City however my heart will always be with New York where I was born. 

Where do you call home now? 

​Still Jersey and likely always will be. I live in Hillside and serve the young people of Newark.​ 

What is a song or movie that defined the time when you did the corps? 

​Speed with Keanu Reeves came to mind​. It was the fastest five weeks of my life with each minute feeling like a ticking bomb, haha! Every moment I could recall was packed with urgency, emotion and grit. 

“The (TFA) network is boundless. No matter where I go, there is always a TFA'er around ”

Juan Acevedo

What is the name of a student that changed your life? 

​Louis Porter from South Philly. In my third year of teaching, I was experiencing a challenge with my students. They'd work tirelessly in my Algebra class and would consistently demonstrate values we would expect from any citizen - respect for self and others, empathy, humor, to name a few. But those values would be veiled outside of my classroom walls when they were in the halls, other learning spaces, and outside of school. I shared what I was seeing - or not seeing to be more accurate - and asked them for advice. Louis told me several things that stick with me to this day; I'll share his last point being that the only way I would make real change with youth within the education system was to become a principal. This past year, I did just that.​​ 

What is the biggest lesson you learned from teaching? 

​In your role as a teacher, the most powerful lessons to instill in a young person cannot be found in your curriculum or unit plan. 

Why does NJ rock? 

The four seasons in this state is like that of no other I've seen.​ 

“In your role as a teacher, the most powerful lessons to instill in a young person cannot be found in your curriculum or unit plan.”

Juan Acevedo

What do you value most about being a part of TFA?  

​The network is boundless. No matter where I go, there is always a TFAer around. That, and my ability to organize and recall acronyms. ​ 

What do you think is the most important issue in education today? 

Standardized Testing. It seems to stay the same no matter how much we try and individualize, differentiate or personalize learning for young people.