#27 – Social Media Fellow & Storyteller – Ana Cunningham

Greetings! Educators have played a prominent part of my life ever since I can remember. Parent volunteers helped me tell time at Wayside Elementary School. My seventhgrade math teacher ensured we understood angles and geometric planes at Herbert Hoover Middle School. The rigorous academic life lessons provided at Winston Churchill High School set a supremely high bar of excellence that remains significant in my life today.

In all of these distinct educational experiences, a super salient truth formed in my mind—the nourishment that education lends to the mind, body, and soul offers the greatest opportunity for our society to operate in unison as young adults dream big and believe we can create a perfect union.

My favorite AP English Literature teacher Ms. Eleanor Goodwin always impressed upon me that “life is a conversation” so I should aim to have as many conversations with as many people as I can. Our first conversation begins here with my exciting announcement that I have joined the SchermCo team as the new Social Media Fellow! ☺  

Introductions begin with a virtual handshake and name—I am Ana Cunningham and my initial conversations in Charlotte began in 2012 when I joined the Teach for America Charlotte corps as a high school English teacher at Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology. My passionate fervor to enter education stemmed from the extraordinary value instilled in me by my parents who never attended college, but understood how education opens access and opportunities—the proverbial American Dream.

Through my life, I have been fortunate beyond measure to re-frame what constitutes my own American Dream as I became the first person in my family to attend and graduate college, the first to own a dog, and the first to become a formal educator.

In my household, conversations at the dinner table centered on how to create impact and possess a solutions-oriented mindset in which meaningful ambition would be supported with a tangible concrete plan. My parents’ all-knowing wisdom has served me well from Northwestern University to Paris to New York City and on a daily basis in the classroom—they become quite giddy when I admit they have indeed been right all along.

The students with whom I have had the great privilege to live life the past six years foster and fuel my fire that access to the American Dream should neither be contingent nor dictated by zip code or school name. My students lead extraordinary lives of courage, conviction, resiliency, grit, hope, and fierce determination to seek their own success for themselves and their families. The greatest satisfaction has been to watch and develop my students as they work toward their long-term goals and become the first person in their family to attend and graduate college and many more firsts await them.

My most recent reminder of my parents’ sagacious words came in the form of the most exciting news—the opportunity to work at SchermCo with an impactful and solutions-oriented team. In my career as an educator, macro-solutions can be hard to accomplish from a classroom and I have always held the mindset to help the highest number of students possible.

My initial interest in SchermCo began with a college readiness program with whom Greg and the team had partnered and I found it amazingly nifty that the reach and scope of SchermCo’s vision and impact could be felt in Charlotte and other parts of the country. Conversations with Greg and the team center around a most significant bottom line—is it good work for kids? The question guides the work and frames conversations with partners in Charlotte and across the country. The powerful question of how can we create polices, forge solutions, and implement plans that are good for kids motivates and excites me to work within SchermCo to create greater possibilities for students.

I am beyond thrilled to begin my time here at SchermCo and continue to lead life with as many conversations with as many people as possible. Thank you to Greg and the entire team at SchermCo for the opportunity to innovate and inspire hope for kids.

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