You’ve met Jessica, Erica, and Jeremy, and now it’s my turn to share! I founded Hendy Avenue Consulting almost 8 years ago and never imagined the amazing team and clients we have today. I’m excited to share with you a bit about how I started and what drives me in this work. It’s great to meet you!
Why did you choose to work in education?
When I was in high school and college, I worked at the New York State Sheriff’s Camp, nestled in the Finger Lakes of Western NY. The sheriffs from each county in the state identified children who were high risk and invited them to attend the camp. Through swimming, boating, arts and crafts, and camp songs, these young people who had survived incredibly challenging life circumstances would slowly shed their armour and get to be kids – even if only for a week. I saw the power of this experience and chose to be a Human Services major to open my own camp one day. My junior year of college, however, I learned about Teach For America and decided to explore teaching as another way to create opportunities for kids. As a first grade teacher in San Jose, California, I was able to witness the magic of little ones first learning to read. I loved their giggles and enthusiasm for every new experience. Like my young students, I too am a first generation college kid and was well aware that the odds were already stacked against them. I knew that my students’ educational experiences were going to determine their life outcomes and I wanted to be a part of it. I committed then, 20 years ago, to education and have been pursuing ways to make schools better for kids ever since.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is working with and learning from incredibly talented and committed people. The Hendy team is just the best and I’m so proud to call these people my friends and partners in this work. Likewise, our clients are all amazing people who are doing such amazing things for kids. I love getting to work closely with an organization to help them solve their problems. I also love convening people to work together to find innovative solutions. I really do have a great job and feel very lucky for the opportunity to do this work.
What’s the problem in education you most want to solve?
I want being an educator to be a valued and celebrated profession. As a young teacher, I witnessed phenomenal veteran teachers without a voice in school decisions not being treated as the professionals they are. It was such a missed opportunity for my school and it’s a missed opportunity for the education field as a whole. I believe that by elevating the profession and leveraging the expertise of educators, we’ll be able to better attract and retain teachers from all walks of life and greatly increase outcomes for children.
At this particular moment, I’m also painfully aware of the disparity of Covid-era education. The achievement gaps were immense before Covid and are sure to expand given the broad range of school experiences children are having today. We need to quickly work to understand kids’ academic and emotional needs and create plans for targeted remediation. We need to take a holistic/society approach to ensuring that the kids who need the most are getting the most from our systems and our educators.
What’s a favorite book or quote?
I’ve always loved the quote from Lee Iococca, “In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest would have to settle for something less”. It’s such a simple idea that is widely held in many other countries, but one we still haven’t internalized in the U.S. Remote learning has given parents new insights into the incredible commitment and creativity of teachers. My hope is that the appreciation people feel for teachers today evolves into culture, policies, and practices that lead to the best of us in the classroom and the rest of us settling for less.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Outside of work, I love to spend time with my family and our friends. You can most often find us in Brooklyn playing sports and games, hanging out with friends in Prospect Park, or (pre-Covid) traveling to spend time with our extended family. Our five year old is patiently trying to teach me chess and our three year old performs an animated daily puppet show. Today we are excitedly awaiting a big snowstorm in NYC with sleds and hot cocoa at the ready!
Sarah, Mike, Max (5) and Eli (3) reaching the top of the “mountain” while hiking in Cleveland