Confidence in the Road Ahead: What’s Ahead for TFA|STL
It has been a phenomenal four years back here at home in the huSTLe city, my hometown, with each of you. As we enter our 15th school year (yes-15!), I am filled with critical hope and revolutionary love for our students, our community, and each of you. The last 15 years have been mighty in the ways we’ve been able to establish and expand our impact on educational equity in St. Louis through each of your leadership. One of our founding supporters and generous board member, Maxine Clark, hosted an event to connect the dots in STL education two weeks ago. As you’ll see from the image she shared then, our initial corps of 50 has grown to a network of nearly 600 corps members & alumni, and countless supporters and partners who are shifting the reality for our students. Look how we’ve grown!
In the last four years alone, we have seen an increase in student achievement, corps member, and staff diversity, and support from the state of Missouri; we’ve launched a local institute that has increased summer student gains and deepened institutional partnerships with SLPS and UMSL, invested deeply in culturally responsive pedagogy while maintaining strong levels of academic rigor and student growth, and see Alumni School Leadership increase by 443%!
These wins and milestones are thanks to each of you, and our phenomenal team members, both past, and present. But the work is just beginning.
Our greatest opportunities lie before us. Reaching this point of a critical mass of talent, clarity on the necessity of equity, excellence, and community voice to lead our vision, commitment to culturally responsive leadership and academic rigor, and diversity of background and perspective among our community set us up at the precipice of more breakthrough for our students. It will continue to require the leadership of each of us, in our sphere of influence and locus of change.
I have the utmost confidence in our region’s ability to move far and fast toward our One Day, and am thankful for all you have each done to bring us closer with every step.
It is both because of my confidence in our path forward and the deepening of my own convictions given my time here, learning from our students, Ferguson, and you, that I share the news that in September, I’ll be departing the Executive Director role to serve as Teach For America’s Vice President of National Community Alliances.
The opportunity to bring much of what we’ve been doing in St. Louis and merge it with the work national teams have already done to build strong partnerships across the nation is an exciting one. There has been incredibly strong groundwork laid by our national partners, and it will be my role to move forward and deepen existing relationships, bring more community voice into TFA nationally, and embrace a marriage of democracy and innovation where we are strong allies to community, and agents to help them achieve the visions they set.
Our team will be responsible for setting our national civil rights agenda, and include 5 existing initiatives: support for our DACAmented Corps Members (learn more here), and our Black, Latinx, Asian American + Pacific Islander, and Native Alliance Initiatives (more here). We will be focused dually on building respectful, equitable alliances in communities and ensuring that voice influences TFA. To that end, I’ll also continue to be involved with my beloved St. Louis to help refine and share our work on culturally responsive leadership around the broader organization.
It was a challenging choice to leave, as I have so much love for our city and our entire network. Though I’m leaving, I’m not going far. And I am more confident than ever about what lies ahead-we must continue to choose this work and what’s right for kids, everyday, to see One Day become a reality.
The search for our next Executive Director will be launched in a few weeks, and I won’t transition until the fall to ensure the handoff is responsible, seamless, and best for our community. Should you have ideas about our next ED that you’d like to share, please feel free to email me or Shaterra.Lee@teachforamerica.org so we can capture your thoughts.
Thank you for an amazing four years. Thank you for your support, your pushes, your commitment, and your leadership. We huSTLe hard here for kids, and we’ll win because of each of you.