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Stories Matter

The power of a story is limitless. We asked some of our corps members and alums to share their stories with you, unscripted.

"The Limitless Power of Stories" on top of a grid of photos with teal overlay.

October 9, 2020

It was a little after 6:00 PM on Sunday, August 16th when I finally arrived back home. I had spent the previous five days in the cancer ward at Novant Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte, undergoing my sixth and final round of chemo treatments. Typically, I'd spend the next several days in bed, allowing my body to slowly recover. This time, however, I would only have 14 hours to rest before the official start of my second year of teaching!

When I awoke that Monday, every part of my body was screaming at me to stay in bed. But I was so excited to start the day—I could not wait to meet my new students. All 126 of them! I had been looking forward to the first day of school all summer long and wasn’t going to to miss it for anything. 

I teach eighth grade math at Albemarle Road Middle School in Charlotte. Exactly one week after my school had closed its doors due to COVID-19, I ended up in the emergency room, where I was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of stage IV non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. My doctor told me that I would not be able to continue teaching during my chemo. I told him that I wanted to try anyway.

Thankfully, it’s the only thing he’s been wrong about, so far. 

As a math teacher, I love numbers, but as a relationship-builder, I love stories. As my own story got out into the world this past spring (yes, I’m the "Ellen cancer teacher” guy), I learned in a very real way the limitless power of having a network of support. I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of responses from my colleagues at TFA, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, and all over the world. 

That encouragement helped me stay positive in the face of this extraordinarily difficult challenge. My medical care team swears that maintaining a positive mindset has improved my body's response to the treatment. I could never thank you all enough for how your kind words and stories and support have helped me.

That’s the thing—stories have the power to change people. My students' stories have definitely changed me. Below are powerful stories from our network. I hope you'll take the time to listen and to record and share your own. You never know who you might change. 

Humbly, Wil Loesel (Charlotte-Piedmont Triad '19)

Teaching During the Pandemic

Shawna Fields (CPT '13) sits down with two of her former students, now colleagues, Amber Cruz (CPT '19) and Karen Huezo (CPT '20) to reflect on their experiences teaching.


Quite the Packaged Deal

Roommates, best friends, and former co-workers Kendra Harrison (CPT '17) and Melanie Foligno (CPT '17) laugh their way through childhood memories of school and their time working together.


Failure Is Not an Option

Diamond Foggie (CPT '18) asks her mom, fellow CMS educator, about her pathway into teaching and beyond.


No Stopping Us

Lee Wilson (CPT '16) and his former student, Murphey, share memories from Murphey's 8th grade year, which was also Lee's first year of teaching, at Northeast Middle School.


From Executive Director to Executive Director

Former TFA-Charlotte Executive Director Tim Hurley (Greater Delta '02) interviews Former TFA-Piedmont Triad Executive Director Nafeesha Irby Mitchell (CPT '09).


I Miss Teaching Each and Every Day

Fellow alums and law school classmates Cynthia Hernandez (CPT '16) and Anna Kathryn Barnes (CPT '15) talk about how their time in the corps has impacted their experiences earning a law degree.


More Than a Teacher

Satahi Bevels (Miami-Dade '12) asks Ernesto Godinez (CPT '19) questions about his high school experience and time as a student in her class; Ernesto asks Satahi about why she decided to become a teacher.


A TFA Love Story

Jared Misner (CPT '12) interviews his husband and fellow TFA alum Nate Wardwell (CPT '14) about how they met, fell in love, and lessons learned from the classroom.


To Coach and Be Coached

Gregsha' Lee (CPT '18) sits down to ask her TFA teacher coach Michael Sheffield (CPT '14) a few questions.


The Teacher Who Made Them Feel Seen and Heard

Kindergarten teacher Kierra Cherry (CPT '19) talks with her mom and fellow Kindergarten teacher Cynthia Cherry.


Colleagues to Friends to More

Couple Rachel Williams (CPT '18) and Craig Fanto (CPT '18) recall what it was like to enter into a new relationship during their first year of teaching.


Seven Years Later

Stephanie Brown, a student at Central Piedmont Community College, interviews her former middle school teacher, Sara Kay Mooney (CPT '09).


Brothers. Alums. One Day Believers.

Greg Schermbeck (CPT '08) asks his younger brother Kyle Schermbeck (CPT '13) about work, life, and memories from their childhood.


From a Family of Educators

Hailing from a family of educators, Rachelle Blash (CPT '19) interviews her mother who has been teaching for nearly 25 years.