Why I Teach at STRIVE Collegiate Academy

By Teachers at STRIVE Collegiate Academy

The innovative environments of public charter schools make their instructional practices and school cultures unique. This environment is what draws many families to choose a public charter school, and the same is true for teachers. We asked some of the teachers at STRIVE Collegiate Academy why they chose to teach there, and this is what they said.

Emily Martin, sixth-grade math and sixth-grade chair at STRIVE Collegiate Academy

Emily Martin, sixth-grade math and sixth-grade chair at STRIVE Collegiate Academy

“At the end of the day, all of us who work in education are all working toward the same goal; there are just different ways of getting there. At STRIVE, we have the autonomy to use our time differently, including implementing longer math and ELA blocks and putting a focus on academic intervention time. Our school may be smaller, but our expectations are sky high. Our students have never been faced with a challenge they could not overcome.

I choose to teach at a school that takes students on college tours and out of the state to see the possibility of the opportunities that lie ahead of them. I choose to teach at a school that, despite teaching a historically underserved population of students, has achieved Level 5 growth scores every year. I choose to teach at a school that empowers students and provides them with the tools to not only be good scholars but great people in their community.


Like me, our students also choose to stay at STRIVE. Our students and their families feel they needed something different than what their zoned school offered. Whether their reasoning was emotional, academic or something else, each family made a decision that what was best for their child that was different than the primary option they were given. Our Founder and Principal, Lakendra Butler, once told me: ‘It is OK if we are not the perfect fit for every family, because no school ever will be. However, we are an incredible option for those students and families who we serve that are looking for something different.’”

— Emily Martin, sixth-grade math and sixth-grade chair


Whitney Graham, fifth-grade science teacher and fifth-grade chair

Whitney Graham, fifth-grade science teacher and fifth-grade chair

“I honestly cannot see myself teaching in any school other than STRIVE. At STRIVE, there is a unique mission tailored to the community it serves. Teachers are empowered to be advocates for their students, particularly students of color, in a way that I never encountered from teachers in my own education. At STRIVE, there is a robust fight to close the achievement gap. At STRIVE, we are driven by data. At STRIVE, we encourage our students to make mistakes both inside and outside of the classroom — because we know that these mistakes make us who we are.”

— Whitney Graham, fifth-grade science teacher and fifth-grade chair

Travis Powell, fifth- and sixth-grade special education teacher at STRIVE Collegiate Academy

Travis Powell, fifth- and sixth-grade special education teacher at STRIVE Collegiate Academy

“I feel lucky to work at STRIVE, in an environment where students feel excited to belong in a college homeroom, compete against each other, feel a sense of family, and meet together to discuss highs and lows. We have a school creed we recite, and we are constantly reminding students their path includes college and they are destined for greatness. Families at STRIVE know what to expect — high expectations today for tomorrow’s leaders. This is a standard I can get behind, and this is a place I can stay for my next 10 years.”

— Travis Powell, fifth- and sixth-grade special education teacher


Bethany Eschman, sixth-grade English-language arts teacher at STRIVE Collegiate Academy

Bethany Eschman, sixth-grade English-language arts teacher at STRIVE Collegiate Academy

“I leave STRIVE every day with pride. I am proud to tell people where I work. I am proud that my students allow me to be a part of their educational journey. I am proud to work for leaders who come into each day with passion and understanding. I still have a lot of growing to do as an educator, but I will continue to work my hardest to give back to STRIVE Collegiate Academy for the experience it has given me.”

— Bethany Eschman, sixth-grade English-language arts teacher









Kelli Gauthier