Alumni in Action
“By the end of the summer, some of my previous assumptions had changed.”
Sara Keenan - 2007 New York
Spotlight on Sara Keenan
After graduating from UW-Madison with a degree in English Education, I taught high school and middle school English for five years. While teaching in the Chicago Public Schools, I received support and professional development from two stellar education organizations: the Rochelle Lee Fund, a nonprofit focused on improving kids' reading habits and abilities, and the Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education, an organization that supports teachers and artists to integrate the arts into their curriculum. Inspired by their impact on my development and on my students' learning and achievement, I left the classroom to have a larger impact on the education landscape and to study professional development and media education.
I received the Catherine B. Reynolds Fellowship for Social Entrepreneurship to study Media, Culture and Communication at the NYU's Steinhardt School of Education. I learned about Education Pioneers from one of my colleagues in the Reynolds program. My summer with Education Pioneers turned out to be a transformative experience. I knew I wanted experience working in education at a large-scale organization in contrast to my classroom experience, and my placement with the New York City Department of Education was a perfect opportunity. I worked with the Periodic Assessment team led by a former Education Pioneer, Marisa White, utilizing my current skill set while stretching myself and my scope of experience.
I loved the dialogue generated by our cohort meetings that brought all the Pioneers together. I'd been studying to be a teacher or teaching for the previous 8 years, and I was used to being at the table with people who agreed with me. In Education Pioneers, everyone represented different backgrounds and played different roles. I was really challenged.
By the end of the summer, some of my previous assumptions had changed.
Education Pioneers was instrumental in helping me find my post-graduate school job. The summer experience helped direct my focus towards teacher and leadership development, rather than media education. The most exciting job opportunities came as a result of my cohort network. In fact, at an Education Pioneers Alumni happy hour, three different people told me about the same job opportunity at Achievement First.
In the end, I believe that schools are only as good as the people in them. It's truly exciting to be part of Achievement First, a growing charter school network, where we are working strategically to recruit, engage, and develop great people in order to help our scholars succeed and to impact more kids and families. I am humbled by my opportunity to help develop these teachers and leaders.