Sitting on a plane on his way to Oxford, Chris Rosson, traveling from a single-parent, low-income home in Kansas City, noticed a passenger in First Class reading a half-page article about him in the Kansas City Star. The contrast of this situation was not lost on Chris.
And his life definitely makes for a good story: Being a first generation college student, he graduated summa cum laude from both William Jewell College (BA in Economics & Business Administration) and Johns Hopkins University (MA in International Economics & International Relations), completed honors credentials at Oxford University, and was named one of the top 20 college students in the nation as a member of USA Today’s All-Academic First Team (2006).
Today, Chris serves as the Executive Director for Teach For America in Kansas City and proudly utilizes his diverse background and experiences to advocate on behalf of kids from his hometown.
In a way, Chris led a dual life and blasted through all stereotypes attached to people “like him”: he was raised white, but looked like a person of color, he grew up in a poor neighborhood but was educated in a private school where he only met few students like him. Living in these two worlds has later served him in his career and in his role as Executive Director supporting teachers the best way he can.
In our conversation, we talk about the development of TFA Kansas City, which was founded in 2008 and has gone through a steady period of growth since its inception.
Over the past 3-4 years Chris and his team put more emphasis on teaching For America being a lifetime of service and not just a 2-year commitment. By supporting teachers on many levels, giving them different resources and checking in on them during the year, they’ve been able to keep more and more of them beyond the 2-year commitment mark.
He shares why he believes
- there’s an army of change makers out there, ready to be recruited into teaching
- how long it takes to be a great teacher
- why failing is never a setback, but a learning opportunity
- why creating veteran teachers is one of his biggest goals
There are a lot of opportunities to stay involved and make a difference, uniquely matched with the talents and interests of each individual teacher and Chris helps to expand these experiences.
We also talk about former Teach for America Teacher and past Executive Director Alicia Herald, and how her path was not one she predicted and her experience has led her to create myEDmatch.
We also dive into closing the achievement gap and adapting the teacher selection model so that the challenges teachers face don’t prevent them from achieving the strongest potential while having a profound impact.
Lasting impression: it’s not enough to get involved, you have to become PART of it!
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