Alumni in Action
“I like to think of the fellowship experience as 360 degrees of education.”
Jacqueline Greer - 2006 Boston
Spotlight on Jacqueline Greer
I started out working for the Social Policy Action Network (SPAN) in Washington, D.C., writing and researching teen pregnancy and parenting, responsible fatherhood and welfare policy issues. Then I worked for Michelle Rhee's New Teacher Project - in the DC Teaching Fellow program - on recruitment, training, selection and placement of teachers of the DC Public School teachers. It was a much different environment back then. You kept seeing the same mistakes being made over and over with no emphasis on accountability in the organizational culture. I left for policy school because thought I could be someone to bring about change on a much bigger level.
Everyone at Kennedy was passionate about some noble cause. World hunger, microfinance ... but education was my thing - specifically the lack of educational opportunities in the nation's capital. I thought about opportunities in international development, but deep down I always knew that I'd be back in education - and back in DC. There is nothing more critical than the value of an education. Education = higher income = better jobs.
I found out about Education Pioneers through a friend at school; she said that it was perfect for me. The fellowship also was critical in expanding my network and my understanding of the education sector. My cohort was made up of people who all wanted to make the world better through education, but couldn't have had more different ways to get there. I like to think of the fellowship experience as 360 degrees of education. It made me realize that I need to push my thinking beyond my scope, and really look at how decisions translate to stakeholders, from students to teachers to schools to communities.
Originally, I had no intention of having a fellowship in another school district, especially so soon after my DC experience. But it couldn't have been more helpful because I saw firsthand how an urban public school district can be run. Goals were aligned from the central office to school administrators to teachers. You could see measurable gains in student performance. Human resources was accessible. The entire district had a clear sense of mission and vision - a perfect contrast to my experience in DC.
Rhetta, then the Boston Executive Director, has been such a positive influence in my life. She has taken her own time to help me through career decisions. She has been much more than an inspiration; I would say she has been both a mentor and a career coach.
My story for getting back to DC public schools is truly a case of the stars aligning. Soon after graduation, as I was considering my options, Michelle Rhee called me out of the blue to persuade me to work for DC public schools again. I was not sure about it, and said that I had to think about it. All she said was "turn on the news tomorrow morning". The next day, she was announced as the Chancellor for DC public schools. I spent the next six months as her executive assistant, learning huge lessons in politics and leadership. Michelle is so inspirational and motivating, and she is making the change happen in DC. Her team is made up of smart, passionate people who feed off a culture of enthusiasm and accountability. Where there once was a static, low-performing environment now stands an organization that believes in change and is focused on our children.
I transitioned to become the central office staffing director, and I love my job. It is incredibly challenging, and I work myself and my team hard. Our job is to get the right people on the bus and get them the things they need to do the best job. In the end, our success depends on the people we hire. There are no excuses. We need to have people here who continually ask the question: What does my work do that is helping student achievement' My team supports the people that support the students. No excuses. I will do whatever is needed from me to get that job done.