Corps Member & Alumni Spotlights

June 2016

Justin Smith (BAY ’09) shares his experience as an LGBTQ educator, how he is creating an LGBTQ inclusive classroom for his students, and gives advice on ways you can too. Read more about his story here!

May 2016

Sarah Tazghini (NYC ’11) is one of seven educators nationAlum spotlight - Sarah Twide to receive an award from the National Science Teachers’ Association. In our interview, she shares what brought her to this work, why she continues to teach at her placement school year after year, and how she continues to develop herself as a lifelong educator to bring the very best to her students. Read more about Sarah here!


April 2016

Logan Brooks - Alum SpotlightLogan Brooks (NYC ’14), Teacher at Urban Assembly School of Music and Art

Logan Brooks, a second year high school special educator at Urban Assembly School of Music and Art, shares his motivations for joining the corps, some challenges he has faced, and how he has used the React to Film model with his students. Read his full interview here.


Abbas Manjee (NYC ’09), Chief Academic Officer at Kiddom

Abbas Manjee, Chief Academic Officer at Kiddom (an online, free integrated gradebook platform) shares why he left a career in finance to join the 2009 corps, what he learned during his six years in the classroom, and how he used technology to support students in Alternative Settings. Read his full interview here.


March 2016

BrittanyBrittany Clark (NY ’15)

Brittany teaches English at John Dewey High School in Brooklyn. She comes to this work as the daughter of an immigrant mother, who always instilled in her the importance of education. As a first generation college graduate, she openly shares how her mother’s story and her own success story fuels her every day to prepare her students for college and the real world. She teaches mostly high school seniors and charges them to uphold their classroom’s mission statement  – “Students will take an active role in their own education – claim their education, not passively receive it – by fostering a community of respect, perseverance, and hard work.” Read more here about Brittany’s story and how she has navigated her first year of teaching from her biggest breakthrough moment to how she incorporates female empowerment into her classroom.

November 2015

AnnaMariaAnnaMaria Smeraldi (NY ’14)

Shout out to AnnaMaria Smeraldi (NY ’14) for sharing this photo from pajama day in her classroom at Concerned Parents of Jamaica Early Learning Center. “As I watch my students take an active role in their learning or see them be kind and compassionate to their peers, I am reminded of how powerful it is to work with our city’s youngest learners,” said AnnaMaria. “It’s amazing to watch them be so eager and invested.” We’re proud of the work you and your peers do every day, AnnaMaria, to give NYC’s future leaders the strong start they deserve! 

meghan_dunn_1041Meghan Dunn (NY ’05)

Shout out to Meghan Dunn (NY ’05), principal of P.S. 446 in Brownsville, who was featured on WNYC last week for the marked difference she and her team have been able to make for students since opening the school in 2012 in a building where two others had failed. Since the school opened, the percentage of students reading at grade level has climbed to 41 percent from 32 percent and disciplinary incidents during the same time period dropped by more than a third. Read the full article on WNYC.

October 2015

Sobella_CroppedSobella Quezada (NY ’15)

Fifteen years ago, Bronx native Sobella Quezada (NY ’15), was in 8th grade. Her teacher was a TFA corps member. A decade later, she accepted a sensible job with the Social Security Administration after graduating from City College, but she felt something was missing. Four years into her career, she took a leap to pursue her dream job of teaching, and we couldn’t be more grateful she did! Sobella joined the corps this year and is teaching in a 3-year-old Children’s Aid Society classroom in Washington Heights. “I want to be an advocate for my kids,” said Sobella. “I want people in my neighborhood to know the importance of reading to your children and using more advanced language. I need to tell the world that early childhood education matters. I hope I can be in this work for the rest of my life.” We can’t wait to see what she accomplishes!

Kadeem_CroppedKadeem Gill (NY ’11)

Last week, Kadeem Gill (NY ’11), shared his voice on the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance Blog as a part of the #ChangeTheNarrative campaign. ” I teach because every day I see my family in my students, my community in my students, and myself in them.” Said Kadeem. “I “made” it – so they say – because my achievements and education defy statistics for a male of color.” See the full post.

Tim_CroppedTim Morehouse (NY ’00)

Long before Tim Morehouse (NY ’00) stood on an Olympic podium, starred in commercials with Serena Williams, or fenced with President Obama he was a seventh grade teacher in his old neighborhood of Washington Heights. Read more about how Tim came to found Fencing in Schools and what’s next for the organization, including its first four varsity team in Harlem this year, on TFA Top Stories.


Hometown Heroes

We were thrilled to hear that two TFA alumni – Patrick Wanninkhof (NY ’12) and Kelsey DePalo (NY ’06) – were honored as Daily News Hometown Heroes this year.

Patrick Wanninkhof (NY ’12), who was tragically killed while cycling for charity this summer, was a shining example of our vision in action. We witnessed his passion to fight the impact of systemic poverty both in the classroom and in his personal pursuits, and could not think of a more deserving recipient for this award.

Kelsey DePalo (NY ’06) led the Success Academy Washington Heights for its inaugural year with kindergarten and first grade classes, and empowered one first grader to use a writing assignment to start an official Friendship Day at the school. Congrats, Kelsey!

MarioBenabeMario Benabe (NY ’14)

Bronx native Mario Benabe (NY ’14) recently authored a blog post in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month about how he imparts the lessons he learned from his seventh grade teacher, Mr. E, in his own South Bronx classroom today. “My experience in Mr. E’s classroom undeniably impacts my work as a Special Education Math Specialist at the Bronx River High School on a daily basis,” said Mario. “Just as Mr. E encouraged, I have brought my knowledge and experience back to my neighborhood — and I now teach in the same neighborhood that I grew up in. I have taken the key aspects from my seventh grade experience to engage my students in daily math lessons in a way that feels real and empowering.” See his full post here. His class was also recently featured in the nationally televised THINKitUP special.

DanielleMcKoyDanielle McKoy (Miami ’10)

Danielle McKoy (Miami ’10) moderated a panel of TFA alumni at last night’s “New to New York” event, highlighting ways alumni are maximizing their impact in NYC. What the audience might not have known is how Danielle is giving back to her community, herself. Outside of her day job, Danielle runs Breaking the Bronx, a nonprofit she founded to provide free SAT prep and college counseling to Title 1 students. She is also a junior board member of Youth Represent, a local youth defense and advocacy nonprofit and an active member of The Collective. Hear Danielle talk about her path to teaching during last year’s Alumni Story Slam and check out this NPR article, where she talks about The Collective.

September 2015


Francisco Micheo (NY ’15)

Francisco Micheo (NY ’15) recently sat down with Latin Post to discuss his motivations for entering the classroom in an article about the 600 new Latino educators that joined TFA this year. “I want to guide [my students] to where they want to go. I want to be a part of their community and build a relationship with their families,” said Micheo. Hear him talk further about the teacher that inspired him and check out his latest blog posts on The Huffington Post.

Ruth-Mesfun-300x264Ruth Mesfun (Charlotte ’12)

Ruth Mesfun (Charlotte ’12), started her job as a science teacher at Excellence Girls Middle Academy in Brooklyn last year, and this year she’s switching things up for her students. After completing a coding fellowship with The Flatiron School & TFA this summer, she’s working to close gender and race gaps in the CS industry by teaching code to her 6th graders with a curriculum she developed herself. See more about her work here.

MiriamMiriam Altman  (NY ’08)

Congratulations to Miriam Altman (NY ’08), who won Teach For America’s 2015 Social Innovation Award this summer for co-founding Kinvolved, an app that supports intentional communication between schools and families. TFA’s Social Innovation Award is an annual competition that brings budding alumni entrepreneurs together to compete for up to $100,000 in seed funding and engage in professional coaching built for early stage entrepreneurs.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s