Teach For America Leader Speaks to Rhodes Students

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Publication Date: 11/30/2007

On November 29, Brad Leon, the Executive Director of the Memphis branch of Teach For America, Inc., visited Rhodes to speak with students regarding his experiences and achievements within Teach For America. His talk was sponsored by the Office of Student Affairs in conjunction with the President’s Office as part of a series of seminars aimed at connecting Rhodes students with prominent leaders within the Memphis community.

Past presenters range from Shelby Co. Mayor A.C. Wharton to builders working with the Hope VI program to lawyers and other individuals from various professions. “We try to find leaders who have a story to tell about what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and how they’ve been so effective,” says Marie Lindquist, associate dean of students. Given the strong relationship between Rhodes and Teach For America, Brad Leon seemed like the obvious choice to be the next presenter, according to Lindquist.

Taking the form of a catered dinner, the seminar provided students with the opportunity not only to hear from  Leon but also respond to and ask further questions about his extraordinary career. Before assuming his current position in 2006, Leon oversaw the recruitment efforts at institutions such as the University of Notre Dame, the University of Iowa, and the University of Chicago. Under his direction, the number of applications from these schools rose around 96 percent.

This seminar was not the first time Leon has been on campus. Every summer, the new Teach For America recruits from Memphis come to Rhodes for a five-week teaching “boot camp” where they undergo extensive training sessions, some of which are led by  Leon. However, this was the first time he met with students outside of training or recruitment initiatives.

“Mr. Leon is a great example of a leader that our students need to meet and interact with and hear how he has accomplished so much,” says Lindquist. “Our hope is that they’ll look at him and others like him and see themselves doing something similar within their own area of interest.”

For more information about Teach For America, please visit their website at www.teachforamerica.org.

(Information compiled by Christina Cooke, Rhodes Student Associate in the Rhodes Communications Office)