Degree from Michigan: A.B. in Psychology with a minor in Women’s Studies (Gender and Health)
Current location: Washington, D.C.
Year graduated: 2010
Student Organization Involvement: Alpha Phi Fraternity, Project Outreach, Order of Omega Honor Society, College Republicans
Other jobs held or graduate programs attended since graduation: Teach for America Corps Member, Rauner College Prep; Dean of Specialized Services, Rauner College Prep; Harvard University Graduate School of Education – Master’s in Education, School Leadership Program; School Principal Intern, Zervas Elementary School
Alley Bartholomew recently started a new job as an assistant principal in Grand Blanc Community Schools. Before her job in Grand Blanc, MI, Alley worked for Teach for America in their Washington, D.C. office as a recruitment manager. She joined TFA as a corps member in Chicago after graduation, teaching full-time for two years and spending the next three serving as Dean of her placement school’s Special Education Department. Through a TFA scholarship, she then obtained a Master’s in Education from the Harvard School of Education in their Principal Preparation/Licensure Program.
KC: Tell me more about your role as a TFA recruiter!
AB: I recruit for Teach for America at local DC universities, namely George Washington University and American University. I help college juniors and seniors with their decision to teach for two years in a low-income school and commit to a career in social justice. In this role, I can see myself directly impacting students by getting top leadership into the classroom.
KC: What was your own experience like as a teacher with Teach for America?
AB: I originally didn’t think about being a principal. I went to TFA because I wanted to do something really meaningful and see an immediate impact. I spent two years working as a teacher at one of the Noble Street Charter Schools on the west side of Chicago. My class had record growth; my students grew 6 points in the reading section of the ACT from the beginning to the end of year! On the last day of my second year, the principal came to me and said, “We want you to be the Dean of the Special Education Department, and you will start tomorrow.” That’s how I got into administration.
There’s a lot of burnout and turnover in special education. If you’re truly passionate about this type of work and you’re good at it, that’s often recognized very quickly by school leadership because they know special education can be challenging. There’s immense potential for leadership opportunity within special education.
KC: How do you feel your education and extracurricular activities at Michigan have influenced your career path?
AB: During my time at Michigan, I was involved with Project Outreach in the Detroit prison volunteer program. I worked with incarcerated youth (mostly doing tutoring) and quickly realized through that experience what a tremendous problem is facing our country. I didn’t know anything about TFA until one of the campus interns approached me and encouraged me to attend an information session the next day. As I started learning more, I thought, “This is exactly what I need to be doing. I need to go work in a classroom if I want to fight for social justice and make sure that kids with disabilities aren’t overrepresented in the school to prison pipeline.” This was a “light bulb” moment for me during my senior year.
KC: What are your favorite and least favorite things about your job?
AB: My favorite thing is meeting with potential TFA applicants. I get to meet with awesome leaders on college campuses and talk about their futures, their passions, and how that might align with TFA. My least favorite part is watching some really strong leaders choose to go on and do other things besides Teach For America, but I still know they will make a difference in the world.
KC: What advice would you give to current students hoping to follow in a similar career path?
AB: Social injustice is at an all-time high right now, and if you want to do something about it, there is no better place to work in this world than in a classroom, where you have to manage 30 children. You can show them that our world is safe and they will be okay no matter who their leader is or what they hear on media outlets. If you truly want to make a change, as well as gain leadership and management potential, then Teach For America is for you!