Meet Teach For America’s 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 Honorees
November 13, 2018
When it comes to the effort to end educational inequity, Jharrett Bryantt (Houston ’11), Vanessa Luna (Los Angeles ’14), and Stephanie Sharp (Baltimore ’12) focus on different areas of need: Jharrett on college readiness, Vanessa on the needs of undocumented students, and Stephanie on early childhood education. But even as their careers have taken them in different directions since the corps—including, for Jharrett and Vanessa, time on TFA’s staff—all have maintained their focus on the students they are serving.
For their commitment and achievements, Jharrett, Vanessa, and Stephanie have been named to the Forbes 2019 30 Under 30 list in the education category, honored for “bringing access and opportunity to the classroom and beyond.”
Jharrett Bryantt (Houston ’11)
Assistant Superintendent, Office of Strategy & Innovation, Houston Independent School District
As the youngest executive in one of the country’s largest public school systems, Jharrett is spearheading efforts to close the college access gap in Houston.
Jharrett began his work fighting educational inequity in 2011 when he joined Teach For America as a high school geometry teacher in Houston, Texas. He went on to join Teach For America's staff as director of data management for Houston Institute. In this role he helped to run one of Teach For America's largest summer teacher training sites, as well as trained and supported a team of 10 School Operation Managers.
Following his time at Teach For America, Jharrett joined the Houston Independent School District, where he began as a founding program manager for the school’s EMERGE program, which prepares Houston students from low-income communities to apply to and graduate from college. Jharrett worked his way up to become the district’s assistant superintendent in the Office of Strategy & Innovation, where he continues to develop and lead initiatives that prepare high-achieving, low-income students for success at competitive universities.
Jharrett regularly presents on topics concerning access to Advanced Placement courses and college at the College Board Forum. He earned a B.S. from Yale University, an M.A. in education administration from the University of Texas at Austin, and a PhD in educational policy and leadership from the University of Texas at Austin.
Vanessa Luna (Los Angeles ’14)
Vanessa is intimately familiar with the struggles undocumented immigrants face every day in this country: At the age of 10, Vanessa immigrated to the United States from Lima, Peru. Despite her fears of being rejected by her peers and even deported, Vanessa went on to become the first person in her family to graduate college.
After receiving her DACA status in 2013, Vanessa was driven by her desire to help other students like her. So, in 2014, Vanessa joined Teach For America as an educator in Los Angeles. Vanessa eventually joined the Teach For America staff, where she was a founding member of Teach For America’s DACA National Board, which recruits and supports DACA recipients for the corps.
Vanessa’s early childhood experiences continued to inform her work fighting for education equity for immigrant students long after her time in the corps. In 2017, Vanessa co-founded ImmSchools, an organization that partners with K-12 educators to provide the training necessary to support the needs of 30,000 undocumented students and their families across the nation. ImmSchool’s mission is to ensure that all students have access to an excellent education regardless of their immigration status.
Vanessa is currently co-founder and chief program officer at ImmSchools and a 2018 fellow at the VC firm Camelback Ventures. She earned a B.A. from Binghamton University and a M.A. in urban education and leadership from Loyola Marymount University.
Stephanie (Linka) Sharp (Baltimore ’12)
Program Analyst, Overdeck Family Foundation
Stephanie has a proven track record of combining her passion for education with her entrepreneurial skills. While in the midst of teaching pre-K in Baltimore as a 2012 corps member, she also co-founded Syllabyte, an ed-tech support community for educators.
After the corps, Stephanie's interest in ed-tech led to her to join Kaymbu as the director of educational partnerships. The company's app allows early childhood educators to easily share photos, video, and progress reports with parents and school directors, keeping families and educators connected.
Stephanie continued building partnerships with K-12 schools at Flocabulary, a Brooklyn-based company that makes learning fun by creating educational hip hop songs, videos, and materials. As the K-12 partnerships manager, Stephanie worked with large school systems like Atlanta Public Schools to implement Flocabulary’s resources, bringing joy back to the classroom and helping students make huge academic gains.
Stephanie now brings her classroom and entrepreneurial experience to her current role at the Overdeck Family Foundation, an education-focused nonprofit that works to improve each stage of childhood learning, from birth to graduation. As program analyst, Stephanie oversees the foundation's Early Impact Portfolio, which funds early childhood research. She is responsible for sourcing and supporting grantee organizations focused on improving early childhood education, whose work supports 370,000 families.
Stephanie earned her B.A. in journalism and mass communications from George Washington University and an M.S. in early childhood education from Johns Hopkins University.
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