Be part of our diverse community of alumni leading the way in innovation and impact for kids in Memphis.
Our Alumni Network
Our alumni in Memphis are a force of leaders at every level—from classrooms to school systems, civic and cultural advocates, and social innovators. Their diverse backgrounds and leadership experiences are unified by the singular vision that all children deserve no less than an exceptional teacher and educational experience.
Alumni working in Memphis
Alumni working in education
Alumni working as teachers
Alumni working as school leaders (principals, assistant principals, deans)
Meet Some Alums in the TFA Memphis Network
Emily Abeles, Memphis '06
Emily Abeles knows that teaching reading is really hard. Some experts even say it is rocket science. All students, but especially students who struggle, must have access to the time, teacher, and instruction they need to become confident decoders. In her work, Emily constantly tries to learn more about how words work so she can demystify words for students and help other teachers do the same. Since joining Teach For America in 2006, Emily has taught special education, English language arts, and reading intervention. She continues to teach because she strives to match her students’ perseverance and drive. Emily has seen that her students never stop trying so neither does she.
Meili Powell, Memphis '17
Meili developed a passion for relationship-building and equity through working with students at the University of Washington, where she studied education and history. In Memphis, she taught first and third grade for three years at KIPP and Dunbar Elementary. Meili worked as a policy and advocacy fellow with Stand for Children, where she analyzed effective literacy initiatives, researched trauma-informed practices, and helped organize a “Fund Students First” campaign. Meili continued her advocacy by volunteering as a task force leader for Momentum Memphis, where she is currently collaborating with local organizations and elected officials to establish a “Youth Education Success” fund. As a program specialist at ALLMemphis, Meili now coaches teachers and supports schools with building their literacy capacity. Meili also serves as a community outreach and communications co-chair for The Collective Memphis board.
Craig Robinson, Memphis '14
As an African American male teacher, Craig had tremendous success with students in the classroom. Now as an administrator, Craig is focused on recruiting more BIPOC men to teach in elementary school classrooms and supporting them through their development as educators. Through a partnership with Man Up Teach, Craig has already recruited new teachers and hopes to recruit more in the future.
Ashley Shores, Memphis '08
Ashley was a member of the 2008 Teach For America corps and taught at Douglass High School. Since 2010 Ashely has been working at The Soulsville Charter School. During her tenure she served as an Advanced Placement science teacher, instructional coach and high school principal. She now serves as the managing school director and supports Soulsville's middle and high schools as well as their college office. In her 11 years with Soulsville, she is most proud of leading in a way that ensures school staff is reflecting on themselves, their practices, and always working to be a better place for students, staff, and families.
Britney Thornton, Memphis '14
Britney Thornton was raised in Orange Mound, America’s first community built by and for African Americans. Britney left Memphis to receive her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, but returned to her hometown as part of the Memphis corps. In 2016, Thornton founded JUICE Orange Mound with an idea to lead spare change drives and then put the money back into the community. Since then JUICE has invested thousands of dollars toward efforts like a neighborhood garden and a community baby shower. JUICE has become a nexus for neighbors to build relationships and connections. Recently, JUICE began focusing on economic engagement, starting with the launch of a neighborhood small-business incubator.
Regional Alumni Programing
Each year Teach For America Memphis offers a variety of leadership development opportunities for local alumni. Stay tuned for more information and offerings!
Regional Awards & Fellowships
The Barbara Rosser Hyde Alumni Leadership Award is a $1,000 award honoring alumni in Memphis who is doing innovative work to disrupt systems of inequality in Memphis. The award will celebrate profound acts of leadership that ensure we are making progress toward One Day for the students and communities we serve and that our students are globally competitive, socially aware, and have access to opportunities that develop their leadership potential. Learn more about the 2021 award honorees.
The application for the Award will launch in 2022.
Interested in school leadership? One of our key alumni leadership priorities includes fostering excellent leadership in schools. To accomplish this we are excited to offer the Aspiring School Leader Fellowship. The fellowship is a six-month program open to Teach For America alumni, with at least three years of teaching experience, who are interested in pursuing school leadership (dean, instructional coach, assistant principal, principal) in the next 1-3 years. The fellowship will be capped at 12 participants and will take the form of a cohort model.
The application for the 2021 Aspiring School Leader Fellowship will launch fall 2021.
Teach For America Memphis also provides several opportunities to come together as an alumni community to celebrate our collective accomplishments and the progress made toward educational equity in our city.
- Winter Celebration - The winter celebration is a chance for alumni, corps members, and staff members to celebrate the end of the calendar year before winter break. You can expect to dance the night away while having fun and enjoying great company! The Winter Celebration takes place in December.
- Alumni Brunch - At our annual alumni brunch, or Grits & GRIND, we come together to celebrate the impact of Teach For America alumni across Memphis and recognize alumni marking milestone years in this work. The event is also when we celebrate the honorees of the Barbara Rosser Hyde Alumni Leadership Award. The alumni brunch takes place in spring.
- End of Year Celebration - At the end of year celebration, we convene the Teach For America community of alumni, corps members, staff members and families to celebrate the end of the school year and induction corps members completing their corps commitments to alumnihood. The End of Year Celebration takes place in April.
Note: Given risk of gathering large groups due to the outbreak of COVID-19, timelines and celebrations are subject to change.
Connect with Fellow Alumni
Teach For America Memphis knows that much of our impact comes from strong connections made within our alumni community. To that end, we offer many opportunities for alumni to connect - whether it is to plan their next career move, share resources and opportunities, or connect over shared identity.
- TFA Connect Beta - Connect with alumni from across the TFA network on Teach For America’s career and connections site. Find opportunities, build local and national relationships, and meet future employers and colleagues.
- Teach For America Memphis Alumni Facebook Group - A space for alumni in Memphis to come together and share ideas, opportunities, and resources.
Teach For America Memphis offers a variety of corps members and alumni led affinity groups. Affinity groups are spaces for corps members, alumni, and partners to create community through shared identity. The following affinity groups are active in our community.
- Asian American, Native Hawaiin, Pacific Islander / Middle Eastern, North African, and South Asian
- The Souls of Black Folk - Black Affinity Group
- Black Male Educators
- Mental Health
- PRISM Memphis - LGBTQIA+ Affinity Group
If you’re interested in connecting an affinity group or starting one in our community, reach out to Ramon Williams!
The Collective is Teach For America's national association for alumni who identify as Native, Indigenous, and people of color. The Memphis chapter aims to strengthen the professional and personal network among Teach For America’s alumni of color to accelerate their leadership capacity and increase access to opportunities that deepen impact in the city.
Connect with Our Team
The Teach For America Memphis alumni leadership team plays a critical role to cultivate and activate the leadership of alumni in order to ensure equity of opportunity for students in Memphis. We support alumni to develop their personal, professional and collective leadership in the areas that they believe are most critical.
The TFA Memphis Alumni Team
Managing Director, Alumni Leadership
Contact Ramon if you would like to connect about our alumni leadership programming and learning opportunities.
Director, Alumni Engagement
Contact Josalynne if you want to stay connected with everything happening for alumni in Memphis.
Director, Alumni Coach
Willie Byrd, Jr.
Contact Willie if you want to connect about coaching for alumni.