Hello everyone! I hope that everyone is well rested after spring break and having a great first week back. Hopefully, today's spotlight TFA Alum, Claire Renaud, can inspire you a little!
Claire was a UT student who studied Finance and minored in MIS before graduating in 2015. After graduating, Claire initially went on to pursue a career as a commercial banker for Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Dallas. After a year, she decided to join the Corps as an elementary teacher in Washington DC. Currently, Claire is in her second year as a literacy teacher at a charter school in DC.
Claire has always had an interest in teaching. "I knew people who were older than me who were in college who ended up doing TFA and I always felt like it was something that was really cool. I’d gotten into the business school which kinda pulled me away from my interest in teaching, but it was already in the back of my mind. I did a program with Pi Phi where I worked directly in the classroom and it realized the interest I had teaching and doing Teach for America seemed like something that I could do despite being it being different than the stereotypical business path."
Growing up, Claire always wanted more diversity in the places that she was taught. "I grew up in west Texas in a private elementary school with no diversity. In middle school, I went to public school and that was the first time where I saw the different strata of students in the different types of classes. But even in this school, the diversity still wasn’t very robust. It made me really question why that was." It was becoming a teacher that allowed her to witness first-hand the lives of students facing the education gap. "I didn’t really see the results of education gap until I saw the teacher side of it. Every single day, I see the potential and ability of my students yet I know the factors that are going to impact them in the future and the things that are going to be thrown at them.”
For students that are considering joining TFA, Claire says to remember your passions. "I went into a corporate career and my biggest advice is to remember your passion and why you want to be in the classroom. Talk to people and if you really think that this is something for you, then I think 100% that you should do it. The corporate career will always be there. " For the students who are applying or interviewing, she says to be genuine. "Interviewing and joining the corps, I think the most important thing is to be completely authentic and be yourself. Don’t come in with assumptions or stereotypes because they want you for you, not what you think the ideal candidate will be. Focus on how you can be a part of this program. Don’t lose your passion for this goal or this mission."
“I think the biggest things is realizing that you’re always a teacher. I always come home and stay a teacher. I have phone calls, text messages, HW questions, paperwork. You’re on call 24/7. It’s definitely been difficult. You’re a teacher, you’re a mom, you’re a nurse, you’re a counselor, and it’s definitely difficult. What I love the most is that, beyond being a teacher, the amount I have grown and the way that I present myself and the knowledge I have about educational inequity has really grown immensely. Being part of this community, at this school and at TFA, is great because you can discuss these issues deeply and find steps to overcome these issues at the first step. It’s great to have this space to grow my students but also grow myself a lot. I reflect a lot and the days are crazy, but when it’s all done I have learned so much and grown so much."
To learn more about Teach for America, please reach out to your recruitment director Jorge Galan at firstname.lastname@example.org.