Ericca McCutcheon’s mom, a teacher herself, always knew her daughter would work in education. Inspired by her mom’s encouragement, her understanding of community and instruction, her ability to make children enthusiastic about learning, and her joy in her work, Ericca knew that education would be her future too.
While she pursued a degree in business, Ericca knew that she was building great skills that could be used in the field and with communities. She also researched how students of color learned, and the best methods of instruction to meet their needs. She’d been a teacher in an urban Jacksonville, Florida neighborhood through the Alliance for Catholic Education service program established by the University of Notre Dame, and sought to influence educational policy and practices to benefit students.
Ericca realized that there was a big difference between on-the-ground social justice work and serving in a larger organization where the work may feel far removed from the issues. She wanted to lead work that would make an impact on students, but also at the right level for her.
For Ericca, EP bridged the gap: the EP Fellowship brought together the people working in communities, and those from at organizations working to close the opportunity gap at scale. It also provided her with an opportunity to use her data and analytics skills--and her knowledge from her undergraduate business degree--to impact students in Denver Public Schools.
- Data & Analysis
As a data analyst Fellow with Denver Public Schools (DPS), Ericca was tasked with creating a data recording tool that would provide in-the-moment analysis of students’ progress in math. Nearly 4,000 DPS students need high support to reach their math grade level standards, and they participate in the Denver Math Fellows program and receive tutoring during the day to get there. But previously, Denver had only been able to see how their Denver Math Fellows were progressing via standardized tests, which happened annually.
Now, because of Ericca’s work, tutors could see how well their students were learning the material in each unit they taught--including where they needed more instruction, and where they were progressing.
Ericca’s work was twofold: first, she developed a test that would assess what the students have learned; and second, she created a system where tutors could input their students’ scores and instantly see how their students did. Above all, she knew it would have to be very user friendly so that the tutors could understand quickly how their students were doing.
After her Fellowship ended, Ericca stayed on at DPS as a Site Coordinator, where she serves as an advocate for the Denver Math Fellows program, an instructional coach who helps develop curriculum for the Denver Math Fellows program, and as an advocate for students and the community.
As someone who can still remember the first and last names of all of her students, and who still receives happy birthday phone calls from her past students’ grandmothers, Ericca finds the most meaning in her work in the connections she makes with the students she’s helping to support.
“I’m seeing students who are actually in need of intervention get the guidance and assistance they need to get to succeed. Through advocating for and mentoring students of color, students are now aspiring to become great mathematicians,” Ericca explains, “and they’re achieving it.”