Michelle A. Rhee, Founder and CEO of StudentsFirst
Michelle Rhee has been working for the last 18 years to give children the skills and knowledge they will need to compete in a changing world. From adding instructional time after school and visiting students' homes as a third grade teacher in Baltimore, to hosting hundreds of community meetings and creating a Youth Cabinet to bring students' voices into reforming the DC Public Schools, she has always been guided by one core principle: put students first.
Each chapter of Michelle's story has convinced her: students of every background and ZIP code can achieve at high levels, and for our schools to become what children deserve, every educator is called to believe this. Even in the toughest of circumstances, all teachers are called to turn the incredible potential that fills their classrooms daily, into the achievements worthy of our children and country.
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RADICAL: Fighting to Put Students First
In her new book, Radical: Fighting to Put Students First, Michelle Rhee draws on her own life story and delivers her plan for better American schools. Michelle's goal is to ensure that laws, leaders, and policies are making students - not adults - our top priority, and she outlines concrete steps that will put us on a dramatically different course. Informing her critique are her extraordinary experiences in education: her years of teaching in inner-city Baltimore; her turbulent tenure as chancellor of the Washington, D.C., public schools; and her current role as an education activist. Rhee draws on dozens of compelling examples--from schools she's worked in and studied; from students who've left behind unspeakable home lives and thrived in the classroom; from teachers whose groundbreaking methods have produced unprecedented leaps in student achievement. The book chronicles Rhee's awakening to the potential of every child blessed with a great teacher, her rage at realizing that adults with special interests are blocking badly needed change, and her recognition that it will take a grassroots movement to break through the barriers to outstanding public schools.
Teaching with Teach for America
As a Teach for America (TFA) corps member in a Harlem Park Community School in Baltimore City, through her own trial and error in the classroom, she gained a tremendous respect for the hard work that teachers do every day. She also learned the lesson that would drive her mission for years to come: teachers are the most powerful driving force behind student achievement in our schools.
Bringing Excellent Teachers to Classrooms across America - TNTP
In 1997 Ms. Rhee founded The New Teacher Project (TNTP) to bring more excellent teachers to classrooms across the country. Under her leadership TNTP became a leading organization in understanding and developing innovative solutions to the challenges of new teacher hiring. As Chief Executive Officer and President, Ms. Rhee partnered with school districts, state education agencies, non-profit organizations and unions to transform the way schools and other organizations recruit, select and train highly qualified teachers in difficult-to-staff schools.
Her work with TNTP implemented widespread reform in teacher hiring practices, improving teacher hiring in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Miami, New York, Oakland and Philadelphia. TNTP placed 23,000 new, high-quality teachers in these schools across the country.
Driving Unprecedented Growth in the D.C. Public Schools
On June 12, 2007, Mayor Adrian Fenty appointed Chancellor Rhee to lead the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), a school district serving more than 47,000 students in 123 schools. Under her leadership, the worst performing school district in the country became the only major city system to see double-digit growth in both their state reading and state math scores in seventh, eighth and tenth grades over three years.
The graduation rate rose, and after steep declines enrollment rose for the first time in forty years. In her last year as chancellor, every eligible DC public school attracted applicants for the annual K-12 Out-of-Boundary, preschool, and pre-Kindergarten (pre-K) lotteries. Fourteen schools had waitlists for the first time. Ultimately, a record high of 5,219 families, representing an increase of 50 percent over 2009, expressed interest in DCPS programs located in all eight wards.
Michelle has a bachelor's degree in government from Cornell University and a master's in public policy from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.