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On the Brink with Andi Simon

Nov 26, 2018

 Listen now as Lynette Guastaferro explains how she took on failing urban education and turned it around!  

How can you truly transform an organization and what it is supposed to be achieving? That’s what I asked Lynette Guastaferro, Executive Director of Teaching Matters, in our recent podcast. Teaching Matters works with urban schools and their teachers to dramatically transform the education that children are receiving. What is so exciting? It is working. You know how important change is to us at SAMC and those we work with. Lynette inspired us to want to help others do better—because they really can. And so can you! The first step is to listen to this podcast. Enjoy.

Lynette Guastaferro

Focusing on urban teachers at high-poverty schools, Teaching Matters is a national non-profit organization that provides coaching and support services for schools that have a hard time attracting and retaining experienced educators. Its programs have been implemented in nearly half of NYC's public schools and are now being extended into other school systems nationwide. Its reading program—Early Reading Mattersis just in its 3rd year but is already showing tremendous results. Today, the 31 Teaching Matters partner schools, all high-poverty campuses, have seen a 50% increase in the number of students reading at grade level by the 2nd grade.

Committed to the impact Teaching Matters has on children and the way in which its programs create success stories

As you will learn, Lynette's skills lie in observing how people work and then finding ways to improve their skills and develop their talent so they can achieve their very best. 

From her own career training, Lynette quickly learned what she liked and didn’t like. After graduating from Columbia University, she took a job at PricewaterhouseCoopers as a management consultant. In her first week, she was sent to Florida to conduct a capacity analysis of a homeless service delivery system and jumped on the opportunity to get involved in education and supporting people in poverty. She eventually left her consulting position and entered the world of teaching with gusto. 

As an educator, Lynette saw the isolation of teachers, the lack of collaboration, the absence of mentoring, the infantilization of the profession. She wanted to change this and knew that if the system would invest in teachers, they would shine! 

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”

To grow, you have to experience struggles. At SAMC we often say that if you want to change, have a crisis or create one. As Lynette puts it, "In education, kids need productive struggles to learn. The real learning comes from the challenges we face throughout our lives."

Describing her own experiences, Lynette says, “My own life helped me deeply understand that when you’re in urban education, there’s a lot of pressure on teachers to perform. This is important, but we must also work on improving our children's educational experience.”

High-poverty schools routinely encounter crisis after crisis, causing great educators to burn out quickly. This taught Lynette to rethink the ways our educational system supports teachers (or doesn't), leading her to focus on developing communities in schools where teachers feel a high responsibility for the kids.

Some background on Lynette

As Chief Executive Officer of Teaching Matters, Lynette has more than 20 years' experience in education. Under her leadership, Teaching Matters has quadrupled its reach and spearheaded the design of award-winning, scalable teacher development models designed to improve teaching in over 700 urban schools. She has been a classroom teacher, a school-network leader and a senior management consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers. She holds an M.B.A. from Columbia University and a B.A. from Williams College.

Additional resources:

Download the 1-page synopsis of my book, "On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights" here