Last Saturday, May 14th, at the Memphis Botanic Gardens, Teach For America Memphis honored the nominees of this years Alumni Awards at their fifth annual Grits & GRIND ceremony.
This event honored an impressive group of notable TFA Memphis alumni and all they do to serve the Memphis community.
The Barbara Rosser Hyde Alumni Leadership Award is a $1,000 award honoring five Teach For America alumni in Memphis who are doing innovative work to disrupt systems of inequality in Memphis. The award celebrates profound acts of leadership that ensure we are making progress to “One Day” for the students and communities we serve and that our students are globally competitive, socially aware, and have access to opportunities that develop their leadership potential.
Elisabeth Bogart (Memphis ’17)
Elisabeth has called Memphis home since 2017 after obtaining her BA in History from McGill University and discovering her passion for education. She is currently completing her fifth year in the classroom and teaches social studies at Humes Middle School and a class on global issues at the Tennessee Governor’s School for International Studies. Dedicated to the Smoky City/North Memphis community, Elisabeth also serves as Humes’ seventh-grade team lead and Girls’ Track & Field coach.
Kristle Hodges-Johnson (Memphis ’10)
Dr. Kristle Hodges Johnson is the Executive Director of University High School, a laboratory school on the campus of University of Memphis, which will launch in the fall of 2022. She has over 10 years of experience in education, beginning in the classroom as a high school English teacher in her placement school, serving as a department chair and literacy coach, and transitioning into a principal role at Freedom Preparatory Academy High School. Under her leadership, the school was named a Tennessee Reward School and recognized as one of the “Best High Schools” by U.S. News & World Report for two consecutive years and graduated the first 3 classes of students, with 100% acceptance rates into 4 year universities. Most recently, Dr. Hodges Johnson managed Freedom Prep’s Network Academic Team and middle and high school leaders before joining the University Schools Leadership Team. She completed her BA in English from St. Mary’s College, her MEd from Christian Brothers University and her EdD from Vanderbilt University.
Founded in 1990, Teach For America recruits and develops a diverse corps of outstanding leaders who make an initial two-year commitment to teach in high-need schools and become lifelong leaders in the effort to end educational inequity.
Andrea Wensits (Memphis ’12)
A passion for creating positive learning environments and platforms for youth to reach their full potential is what led Andrea to TFA back in 2012. She realized her students were losing momentum as they transitioned to higher education, and this disconnect sparked a shift in careers to the collegiate level. Andrea worked as a Learning Specialist at the University of California, Berkely, where she focused on working with student-athletes and helping navigate their transition from high school to college. That experience illuminated the challenges students face, and Andrea wanted to have a broader impact on those she served. Andrea took her learning back to Memphis, joining Memphis Inner City Rugby, where she could reach more students that did not have the same luxuries that Division I athletes received. Since joining MICR, Andrea has developed holistic programming focused on supporting alumni beyond high school by helping them with academic support, paid job opportunities, mental health support, and leadership development.
Brittany Monda (Memphis ’10)
Brittany Monda is a 2010 Corps Member that started teaching middle school science in South Memphis. After she taught, she moved to a public charter school focusing on all aspects of running a school, eventually serving as the Executive Director. After 8 years at the charter school, she transitioned to Memphis-Shelby County Schools, where she is now an Assistant Superintendent overseeing approximately 20,000 students in 56 charter schools. Brittany is a graduate of Elon University for undergraduate, and obtained her Masters of Education at Christian Brothers University. Brittany is married to Grant, also a 2010 Corps Member, and they have two daughters.
Koedy Harper (Memphis ’17)
Koedy grew up in south Mississippi with values centered on his faith which showed him the importance of loving his community through meaningful work and service. He found a way to express those values through his time as an educator and instructional reading lead. Throughout his five years in the classroom, Koedy taught multilingual learners in 3rd grade, supported educators through instructional coaching, and completed several education policy fellowships. In 2018, he noticed a need for students to be included in decision-making so he started the Student Senate at Kate Bond Elementary which aims to equip 3rd-5th graders with civic leadership and advocacy skills. In February 2022, Koedy transitioned out of the classroom to serve in the Shelby County Mayor’s Office of Education as the Coordinator of Education Initiatives & P-12 Policy Advisor where he develops and supports initiatives ranging from broadband equity to P-12 education programming.