10th Anniversary Summit Teach For America - Indianapolis

On April 13-14, 2018, Teach For America - Indianapolis celebrated its 10th year in Indianapolis by bringing together 350 corps members, alumni, and community and regional leaders to hear stories of growth and impact throughout the years, engage in critical conversations about Indianapolis education, and make public commitments to bring the city closer to achieving our collective vision of One Day in Indianapolis.

Friday Welcome Receptions

On Friday evening, corps members and alumni gathered across eight welcome receptions on Mass Ave: 1990-2012 Corps, 2013-2017 Corps, New to Indy and Other Corps Cohorts, School Leaders, The Collective (members of color), PRISM (LGBTQ+ members), Wabash Alumni, and Teachers.

Saturday Programming

Opening Session

Our opening session was emceed by Ronak Shah (Indy '12) and featured stories from our 10 years in Indianapolis as well as community-building activities to elevate shared and new connections. Read transcripts of speeches and watch videos from former executive directors Jason Kloth, Pat O'Donnell, and Rebecca Thompson Boyle.

Emcee Ronak Shah (Indy '12)
TFA-Indy former executive directors shared on our organization's journey over the years. From left to right: Founding Executive Director Jason Kloth (Rio Grande Valley '03), now President & CEO of Ascend Indiana; Pat O'Donnell (Los Angeles '03), currently teaching in Guadalajara, Mexico; and Rebecca Thompson Boyle, currently the Vice President, Wealth Management Advisor at Fifth Third Private Bank.
Alumnus Cody Whitesell (Indy '08) and corps member Anika Green (Indy '16) shared their individual stories about developing a passion for expanding educational opportunity for students, joining Teach For America, and living into their commitments to One Day.
Alums Nick Murray-Vachon (Indy '13) and MaryCatherine Wright (Indy '10), top left, engaged the crowd with "stand up if you..." prompts about corps years and experiences, and alums Ashanti Murdock (Indy '12) and Joe Zwiebel (Indy '15), bottom right, encouraged attendees to initiate conversations and make new connections.
TFA-Indy Executive Director Amar Patel officially closes out the opening session.

Excerpts from Amar's opening session remarks:

"Our community has grown to become a special and powerful force for change in our city. Our mission is alive and well in Indy, and we’ve contributed to progress for kids. Having grown from 50 incoming corps members in 2008 to 670 corps members and alumni today with 40% of incoming corps members identifying as people of color, we have leadership and increasingly diverse leadership nearly everywhere...

"We know that there are no easy solutions or silver bullets. The change required is broad, systemic, and will take sustained efforts over decades. We have the potential to contribute now more than ever. And, we’re no longer outsiders looking in, as we were ten years ago, trying to break into the system to help shape it; increasingly, we’re at the table. We’ve contributed to Indy’s story of the past decade. And, alongside partners in the effort, we as a community are positioned to author the story over the next decade."

Content Sessions

Participants broke out into six content sessions throughout the day to engage in conversations on topics that impact educational opportunity in Indianapolis.


Facilitated by Alexis Thomas (Indiana Director of Regional Impact, LEE), this content session featured roundtable discussions led by guest speakers including: Claire Fiddian-Green (President & CEO, Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation); Teresa Lubbers (Commissioner, Indiana Commission for Higher Education); Jason Kloth* (President & CEO, Ascend Indiana); Todd Huston (Indiana House Representative, District 37); Tony Walker (Governor’s Appointee, Indiana State Board of Education); Cesar Roman (Indiana Organizer, Stand for Children); Robert Enlow (President & CEO, Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice); Patrick McAlister* (Director, Mayor’s Office of Education Innovation); and Ron Sandlin* (Sr. Director of School Performance & Transformation, Indiana State Board of Education). *=indicates alum
  • Attendees engaged in roundtable discussions with various policymakers and policy leaders on pathways and involvement opportunities in policy and politics, different layers of policy and advocacy, today's policy landscape and important decisions that have influenced or will influence P-12 education, current policies in the pipeline, and thoughts on the biggest issues to be addressed moving forward.
  • Fiddian-Green: "Policy is not enough. Educational equity requires sustained collected effort over a long period of time."
  • Walker: "The growth of project-based learning here in Indianapolis is the second-most in the country behind California... PBL means students are empowered to have more control over day-to-day instruction...We have access to knowledge itself, so what distinguished students now is application of that knowledge and their ability to work with people..."
  • McAlister: "Policy, writing the laws that help affect change, or advocacy to push people to make that change, and all of these are part of a utility belt--a collective set of tools to make change...The 'how' is as important as the 'what.'"
  • Enlow: "We are the hotbed of educational reform even though we have a long way to go. Without legislators who are committed to change, we cannot achieve it."


Facilitated by Kameelah Shaheed-Diallo (SVP of Strategy & Community Engagement, The Mind Trust), "A Conversation about Race in Indiana Education" featured panelists Pat Payne (Director of the Office of Racial Equity, IPS); Reverend Ivan Douglas Hicks (Senior Minister, First Baptist Church North Indianapolis); Javier Barrera Cervantes (Coordinator of New Media Initiatives, IUPUI); Tim Nation (Co-Founder & Executive Director, Peace Learning Center); and Brian Payne (President & CEO, Central Indiana Community Foundation), who then led smaller group discussions for participants to discuss how racial identity and inequity has informed and shaped Indiana's education system.
  • Guest speakers spoke as a panel on how their work and careers address racial inequities and on how this historically rooted systemic issue needs to be addressed. Following, they met in small groups with session participants to further discuss its implications across classrooms and communities as well as what steps they can take individually and collectively to end racial inequity.
  • Hicks: "If we speak victoriously about race then those conversations are no longer clumsy."
  • "Kids need a place with high expectations and a place where they are nurtured and safe...After opening conversations about race with our students, be really mindful about actions they can take afterward."
  • "I want my children's archetype of leadership to be shaped to include female leaders and leaders of color...I intentionally chose a school for my children where that leadership was present."
  • "While policies may change, without addressing implicit biases, our responses will not change."
  • "We can know the buzzwords or say we believe in these practices, but ensuring teachers have training and time to implement them required intentionality."


Facilitated by Amar Patel* (Executive Director, TFA-Indy), this content session engaged panelists Nicole McDonald (Strategy Officer, Lumina Foundation); Daryl Graham (SVP of Philanthropy, Strada Education); Fred Payne (Commissioner, Indiana Department of Workforce Development); Dan Elsener (President, Marian University); Lesley Redwine (Chief External Officer, OneGoal); Jonathan Chaparro (Founding Chicago Site Director, Braven); and Alicia Kielmovitch* (Director of Policy and Legislation, Indiana State Board of Education) in large and small group discussions about how we might define success for students as they navigate their lives beyond high school. *=indicates alum
  • Panelists shared about how their organizations and institutions were mapping out various pathways for students post-high school. Attendees asked questions about current policies and pathways for graduation, resources and support for students, career and technical education, vocational training, and college access.
  • Graham: "We believe that - on the front end - there has to be focus on advice."
  • Chaparro: "At the end of the day, what we all want for our most vulnerable students is for them to have access to choice and opportunity."
  • Kielmovitch: "Indiana is going to need about 65% of the population to have postsecondary degrees. We're currently at 40%. We need to put systems in place to close this gap & to sustain a healthy economy so all people can thrive."
  • Redwine: "If the K-12 system is serious about the success of students beyond graduation, they have to be invested in providing their students strong adult relationships."


Facilitated by Brandon Brown* (CEO, The Mind Trust) and Aleesia Johnson* (Innovation Officer, Indianapolis Public Schools), "Schools of the Future" featured speakers Emma Hiza (Executive Director, Thrival World Academies); Ross Pippin (Executive Director, Thomas Gregg Neighborhood School); and Marie Dandie* (Founding Principal, pilotED) to discuss how each of their innovative school models have addressed the differentiated needs of their diverse student communities. *=indicates alum
  • School leaders shared on each of their distinct school models and the values, missions, and visions of their long-term impact on students and families. Following introductions, session attendees came together with the school models they were interested in learning more about to ask questions and learn more.
  • pilotED is an social identity-based K-8 charter school that has a curriculum centered around focal points such as empowerment healing, reflection skills, world-class enrichment, and civic engagement.
  • Thrival World Academies Indy is a study abroad one-year public high school combining personalized learning strategies with cultural immersion in order to incubate young, globally-minded community leaders.
  • Thomas Gregg Neighborhood School is a K-6 school that focuses on rigorous, research-based curricula geared towards science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM).


Facilitated by Matt Impink* (Manager of Policy and Political Affairs, Indy Chamber of Commerce), "A Systemic Problem: Insights from Sectors that Influence Educational Opportunity" featured guest speakers Ana Luis* (Program Coordinator, School on Wheels); Dennis Bland (President, Center for Leadership Development); Moira Carlstedt (President, Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership); Brent Kent (President & CEO, Indiana Connected by 25); Anita Saunders* (School Psychologist, IPS); Angela Carr Klitzsch (President & CEO, EmployIndy); Joseph Eldridge (Volunteer/Community Outreach Coordinator, 100 Black Men); Ahmed Young (Chief of Staff & General Counsel, IPS); Jack Turman (Professor, IU School of Public Health); and Sarah Estell (Sr. Director of Communications & Digital Strategy, Gleaners), who spoke to how their diverse roles and fields influence educational opportunity then led roundtable discussions. *=indicates alum
  • Participants engaged on learnings and insights from a variety of sectors that influence educational opportunity and had the chance to hear from a diverse set of voices from the panelists. Panelists representing a variety of community organizations, non-profits, schools and school support networks, higher education institutions, and workforce development organizations reflected on how to transition from thinking about sectors impacting education in siloes to thinking systemically about the change and collaboration required to drive transformative progress.
  • After hearing panelists' reflections whole group, participants had the opportunity to engage with two panelists of their choosing in a small-group round table format as they made meaning of what this session and its application meant for their work in Indianapolis.


Facilitated by Carlotta Cooprider (Executive Director, Teach Plus Indiana), Madeline Mason* (Teacher Leader, Center for Inquiry 84); Liz Martin (TAP Master Teacher, Goshen International Middle School); and Tom Hakim* (Principal, Cold Spring School), this content session engaged participants in a series of activities and discussions on how to leverage their leadership in and outside of their classrooms. *=indicates alum
  • Session participants sat at round tables to discuss the most impactful strategies on instructional improvement, visit various definitions of teacher leadership, engage in collaborative dialogue, create visuals of what leadership looks like, and commit to actions for promoting teacher leadership going forward.
  • View the powerpoint


Two dozen schools and community organizations joined for our Networking and Hiring Fair, engaging attendees in professional resources and opportunities, career options, community events and experiences, and more.


Executive Director Amar Patel wrapped up the event by sharing out TFA-Indy's strategic direction and 2023 plan, leading attendees in making public commitments for their roles in our collective movement towards achieving our vision of One Day in Indianapolis.


As we close, I wanted to revisit the question I posed this morning: "How will you, individually, and we, collectively, contribute to making the change we seek a reality? What will you commit to do?

I want to make a commitment to you all. I deeply believe that all of this requires us to be working together, seeing each other as partners and allies more than ever before, and an openness to grow our thinking and our organizational directions together. That’s what’s required for collective leadership, and collective leadership is required for a vibrant and just Indy. So, in this spirit, my commitment to you all is this:

To communicate more. To invite you all, my community, into my head and heart…sharing what I see and am learning and am wrestling with. And create and hold space to wrestle together with the big questions, for which there are no simple answers, and co-create a path forward.


Following Amar's remarks, attendees were given time to write down their commitments to share publicly. Alumni Ronak Shah and Megan Murphy (St. Louis '08) initiated the effort by expressing their individual commitments before opening up the floor.

  • 0:06 | Patrick McAlister (Indy '10), Director of the Mayor’s Office of Education Innovation: "having more conversations with teachers about policy, advocacy, and campaigns, because I believe you need to be at the table"
  • 0:28 | Tony Walker, Governor’s Appointee, Indiana State Board of Education: “using state policy to find a way to incentivize all of you Indiana teachers to expand your use of project-based learning"
  • 0:48 | Shannon Brown (Indy '12), Curriculum Resource Teacher, Manual HS: “talk to my students about how they can advocate for themselves"
  • 1:26 | Justin Thompson (Indy '16), Teacher at KIPP Indy Unite: “being actively engaged through my community, ensuring my kids and their families that I’m here and here to stay"
  • 1:42 | Madeline Mason (Indy '11), Teacher and Curriculum Designer at CFI 84: “ending educational inequity in 50 years"
  • 3:03 | Rick Anderson (Memphis '11), Founder and Head of School at Allegiant Prep: “add to the growing proof points of excellence in Indianapolis for students who deserve outstanding education…

Attendees were also shown a video documenting our 10-year progress and the work ahead:


Alumni, corps members, and community partners enjoyed an after-party at Punch Bowl Social, where they took reunion photos, played games, and wrapped up the celebration of TFA-Indy's 10th anniversary with a birthday cake!

Thank you for being a part of our 10th Anniversary Summit. To learn more about how to stay engaged with Teach For America - Indianapolis, we encourage you to contact our staff.

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