Sharing Riley’s Way with Teach for America

By Hanna, Council member, The Hewitt School/TYWLS of Astoria

On June 25th, my sister Amber and I participated in the Teach for America conference with over 250 incoming teachers. Representing Riley’s Way at the TFA conference were Lauren, Laura, Amber, and me. My sister and I were able to present both our Councils work and share advice with all the new aspiring teachers. Amber represented The Nightingale-Bamford School/TYWLS of East Harlem Council and shared their project and the powerful work they’ve been doing all year. Amber talked about her personal experience attending the Riley’s Way Sisterhood Dinner and Family Matters Events, where she had moving conversations with resilient women impacted by incarceration. I represented The Hewitt School/TYWLS of Astoria Council and shared the work we’ve been doing on our immigration project. Our amazing letter writing campaign to teens in detention centers let our community take part in an experience where we could show our support to teens suffering in these unlivable centers.

Along with explaining more about this incredible day where so many students came together and our upcoming film project, our presentation developed into a strong, engaging conversation. Teachers were able to hear about all the powerful work done in schools in the city and the passionate students within. Questions, advice, and guidance were exchanged, and we were able to learn from each other in so many different ways. This conference gave Riley’s Way and Teach For America the opportunity to share contacts and build connections to further our plans. After sharing more about Riley’s Way and our work and principles, so many teachers left inspired to lead with Riley’s Way values in their upcoming jobs in public schools around the city in Fall. Amber and I were given the opportunity to share our most valuable classroom experiences and the most impactful learning moments with inspiring teachers at our schools. We explained our appreciation for leaders who use Riley’s Way values such as empathy, kindness, and listening to understand in their curricula. My sister and I both have had the privilege of experiencing these values in our schools. Our teachers have taken the extra step to help us really understand what we are learning, not just in the memorization and test-taking sense of the topic. I explained how teachers who are willing to explore my individual interests and passions, inside and outside of the classroom, have strongly impacted my academic career.

The hundreds of teachers attending the conference all chose to join Teach For America to build a meaningful career. The TFA community of almost 60,000 leaders provides a supportive professional network of people who are passionate about giving a deserving and equitable education to all students. I believe if we are able to build personal connections with different people, our work will spread from Riley’s Way to a network of aspiring teachers, and beyond. The Teach For America conference resonated with me because Riley’s Way was not only able to share advice and important skills, but also was able to build meaningful connections with so many kind, enthusiastic leaders.