Teach For America Reinvention: Culture Transformation and Educator Recruitment

Teach For America (TFA) started with an idea in 1989 by Wendy Kopp. The TFA formally launched in 1990 with a mission to provide all children in America with an excellent education. More than thirty-three years later, TFA is continually improving itself by expanding its network and resources with initiatives like TFA’s Reinvention Lab.

One of Teach For America’s core responsibilities is recruiting more educators in the system in areas that need the most help. Recently, The West Virginia Board of Education approved the application for the approval of Teach For America Appalachia (TFAA) to create a teacher certification program in the state.

Still, reinventing oneself isn’t easy, and TFA’s reinvention didn’t occur until a short time ago. Michelle Culver, The Executive Vice President of Regional Operations at Teach For America and Founder of TFA’s Reinvention Lab, joined host Michael B. Horn on The Future of Education to discuss TFA and why it’s different from the one this generation of learners’ parents might remember.

“I had this unique opportunity, as part of the Teach For America senior team on a national stage, to get the rare privilege to be immersed in some of our fastest-improving school systems in the country,” Culver said. “It was a rare opportunity to witness that change is actually possible when communities come together around a bold vision.”

Horn and Culver discuss the following…

● The journey to creating TFA’s Reinvention Lab

● What the Reinvention Lab does

● Transforming the culture of TFA with new ideas and structure

“We designed the Reinvention Lab and a lot of the strategy, based on the ambidextrous research of trying to keep it both separate and connected,” Culver said. “And one of the things I’ve seen with staff is when folks get the opportunity to be immersed in this; it’s so inspiring. But because we put our heads down out of humility to figure out if we do, in fact, have something to offer before bringing attention to it, part of the work is helping people now see what we were learning and be a part of that co-creation.”

About Michelle

Michelle Culver is a teacher who spent the past twenty-one years with Teach For America. Culver founded the Reinvention Lab at TFA with a mission to transform TFA to radically transform learning through equitable innovation within and beyond the TFA. Culver received her BA in Sociology and Communication from Tulane University and her M.Ed. in Education from Loyola Marymount University.

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