“Because of the Fellowship, I’m not starting at ground zero. I gained valuable insight on how innovation grows in schools through key decision makers. It was incredibly useful for my subsequent role working in schools as part of a partner organization.”

Like most high school freshman, 9th grade was a new experience for Wei Chen. But for Wei, a recent immigrant from Taiwan, her new public school in the heart of the Silicon Valley was very different from those she attended in Taiwan. Excellent public schools were located in expensive neighborhoods, and there were very few affordable alternatives for families.­

Wei’s high school experience stuck with her throughout college. She continued to think about the inequities she’d seen.  After graduation, Wei decided to go into the education sector to make an impact. She joined Teach For America. “I thought it was a really good opportunity to get into the trenches and challenge my own preconceptions of being an agent of change,” she says.

Her time in the classroom was a transformative experience for Wei, and solidified her commitment to pursuing a career in education. After working as a teacher in Los Angeles for two years, Wei was eager to expand her impact. “I knew I wanted to be in education, but support teachers and schools from outside the classroom.  Gaining organization management experience would be critical to learning more about creating systemic change,” she says.

Wei enrolled in Yale’s nonprofit MBA program, where she was introduced to Education Pioneers through her classmates who were alumni. She was attracted to EP’s network of like-minded and passionate peers. Although she spent time in the sector as a teacher, there was still much to learn.

  • Academics
  • Finance & Budgeting
  • Operations
  • Technology & Systems

During her Fellowship, Wei was placed with Uncommon Schools’ North Star Academy in New Jersey, where she was tasked with analyzing the school’s use of technology. She looked for areas where the school’s leaders could adopt new systems and methods to improve teacher effectiveness and student achievement, and designed a system with appropriate tools for administrators to tackle this process. In addition to generating teacher buy-in around digital learning tools, Wei introduced system improvements that helped North Star electronically track data points like attendance and behavioral management.

The highlight of the Fellowship for Wei was the opportunity to explore the education sector from a different perspective. “To actually talk to people from all different parts of the sector, think through the nuances of policy and how districts make decisions, and hear the real challenges that administrators face was invaluable.”

Now, Wei is working for New Classrooms as their New Jersey and Washington, DC Site Operations Manager. In this role, she manages the implementation of an individualized middle school math program in partner schools. She credits her EP experience with preparing her to successfully support change management alongside teachers and administrators, and she is incredibly optimistic about the future of innovation in education.