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Katrina Santner: My Hour With Wendy Kopp

As a Teach for America alum, Wendy Kopp’s visit was a much-anticipated one. Imagine that it took both of us flying to the Philippines for me to finally shake her hand and personally thank her! Ms. Kopp, thank you for being an educational pioneer, starting and propelling a global movement, and for showing your support as we work to make an impact in the Philippine education system.

Wendy’s visit reminded me that for our 54 Fellows, joining Teach for the Philippines is not just about these next two years, but it is also about every year thereafter. I believe this is one of the most misunderstood fundamentals of the Teach For All model. Teach For All’s network organizations do not pretend that their Fellows’ two years in the classroom will close the achievement gap. Rather, the change we are collectively seeking requires a diverse leadership force, one that can leverage classroom experience to inform policy decisions and achieve sustainable, systematic reform. By accelerating the leadership of alumni, Teach for the Philippines and its network partners simultaneously pursue bottom-up and top-down approaches to eliminating educational inequity.

As Ms. Kopp said, “We cannot solve this problem from within classrooms; in the end, we need a lot of you to leave the classroom.” Her message is a powerful reminder of what it will take for us to achieve our mission. And while I will always consider myself an educator, I am encouraged that even though I am no longer a classroom teacher, I can still be part of the solution in a positive and meaningful way.


Wendy Kopp speaks at Summer Institute
Wendy Kopp speaks at Summer Institute.


Katrina Santner is a Leadership Development Officer for Teach for the Philippines and is an alumna of the 2007 Phoenix Corps of Teach for America.