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.
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 from former executive directors Jason Kloth, Pat O'Donnell, and Rebecca Thompson Boyle.
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."
Participants broke out into six content sessions throughout the day to engage in conversations on topics that impact educational opportunity in Indianapolis.
EDUCATION POLICY AND POLITICS
- 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."
A CONVERSATION ABOUT RACE IN INDIANA EDUCATION
- 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."
POST-HIGH SCHOOL PATHWAYS: EXPANDING OPPORTUNITIES FOR STUDENTS
- 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."
SCHOOLS OF THE FUTURE: INNOVATIVE MODELS AND WHAT WE MIGHT LEARN FROM THEM
- 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).
A SYSTEMIC PROBLEM: INSIGHTS FROM SECTORS THAT INFLUENCE EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY
- 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.
A WORLD CAFÉ CONVERSATION: TEACHING AS A PROFOUND ACT OF LEADERSHIP
- 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!