Team Spotlight: Meet Rachel Modica-Russell

The Hendy team is so fortunate that the talented Rachel Modica-Russell chose to join the Hendy team in Spring 2023. She is adding so much to our team and the clients with whom she’s partnering. Rachel is currently supporting leaders at Chicago Public Schools, Hebrew Public Schools, and in CMOs navigating new opportunities with AI. We are excited to share Rachel’s spotlight interview so you can learn a bit more about Rachel and the incredible consulting partner, coach, and person she is.

* The photo above is of the Oregon coast, which has quickly become one of Rachel’s favorite day trips since moving back to the west coast.

Why did you choose to work in education?  
In the early years of my education, I revered many of my teachers. They were the individuals who not only imparted knowledge and facilitated learning, but also served as role models, shaping my aspirations and values. As I entered my adolescence and became more conscious of the complexities of my intersecting identities, that changed for me quite a bit; I found it increasingly challenging to connect with my teachers, who were predominantly white identifying men and women. This period of my life made me acutely aware of the importance of fostering meaningful connections between educators and students, learning and leading across lines of difference, and ultimately, prompted me to begin volunteering and working with youth who looked like me. I realized that educational institutions should be spaces where students’ identities feel affirmed, valued, and supported across not only curriculum, but also staffing. This realization paired with my natural gravitation toward highly collaborative, mission and relationship-driven work fueled my determination to enter the field of education, and ultimately, stay in the sector.

What’s your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is walking alongside my clients in the problem identification and solving process. I love knowing that the work I do to support adults in school systems has a direct impact on the learning experiences and outcomes of students. Knowing that the work I do to help to build capacity and people-centric systems and opportunities that can sustain educators translates into higher quality classrooms for students keeps me engaged and motivated.

What’s the problem in education you most want to solve? 
The problem in education that I’m most passionate about solving is the herculean challenge of improving the retention of educators while simultaneously elevating teaching as a respected and sustainable profession. In my view, it’s crucial for the infrastructure and systems in education to catch up with the ever-evolving realities of being in the classroom in 2023. So many talented educators leave the profession due to a variety of factors, including burnout, insufficient support, and inadequate resources. To address this, we need to create an environment where teachers feel valued, supported, and as though they’re able to thrive, thus helping them to stay inspired to stay in the profession long-term. Ultimately, I want to support the education sector in embracing forward-thinking, innovative strategies for teacher support and retention that address the demands and challenges of our times.

What’s a favorite book or quote? 
What an unfair question 😉 I’ll share one of each from the last year that have struck a chord with me:

  • Recent Quote: “Don’t be afraid to speak your truth, even if your voice shakes” – Cleo Wade
  • Recent Book: “Intimations” – By Zadie Smith

What do you like to do outside of work? 
My wife, Alice, and I love spending time with our lively 4 ½ and 1 ½ year olds, Quincy and Simone. You can find us wandering around our neighborhood in search of dinosaurs, a delicious snack, or collecting treasures for Quincy’s treasure box. I also love a kid-free dinner out at a great restaurant, spending time with my siblings (I’m one of three kids in my family), solo walks, and people watching.