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Educator Experience: Rachael Uggla, Director of Structural Model Design

April 30, 2021 Teach to One

This teacher appreciation month, we are honoring teacher voices and experiences through our Educator Experiences series. Our New Classrooms and Teach to One team possesses a collective 300+ years of teaching experience, and we’d like to tell those stories. Read Rosa Pynes’ story of success through relationship building and skill centers here. Watch James Jackson’s interview about working in Houston, at Teach for America and more here. Read Matt Driscoll’s experiences as a math teacher and coach in New Orleans here.

Tell us about your teaching experience.

Teaching was my first job right out of college. I joined Teach for America and was placed as a Special Education teacher at a high school in Washington DC. Beyond being in over my head as any first year teacher would be, I was also teaching very unfamiliar content as an Environmental Science teacher. After that year I was able to move to an ELA position, which was a much better fit for this teacher with a Humanities background! When I think about what I loved most about teaching, I think of reading novels with my students where they were able to connect with characters that initially seemed like they were just from a totally different universe. My teaching experience was incredibly challenging and I often felt very unsuccessful. It completely changed the way that I see the world and I’m incredibly grateful to have had the experience of being in the classroom.

Tell us what you’re doing now and how you transitioned into this career path.

I am currently a Director of Structural Model Design, where I work on projects to design our new products with a special eye to the teacher and student experiences of using them. After leaving the classroom, I wanted to continue working in schools and looked for an opportunity where I could do that but explore other ways to support students. That desire brought me to a school operations team at an Achievement First middle school in Brooklyn, where we focused on all the unseen things that make a school function — like enrollment, food services, facilities, and transportation. The combination of my teaching and operations experience made me qualified for my first role at New Classrooms that focused on the operational lift of implementing Teach to One in schools. Since that first role, I’ve served in a variety of capacities on our program side of the organization that are all, in some way, making sure that what we do works best for students and teachers.

What is one piece of advice or encouragement you would give to teachers today?

Find the people who can help you improve and make you better!

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