Learn about TFA Miami '15 Alumna Samantha Pratt 

Why has Miami been an exciting placement for you to teach and grow?

Miami has given me direct exposure to the complexities of the political and social systems surrounding education. My work as an educator in Liberty City at Holmes Elementary showed me that there is an incredible amount of low-income students and students of color that want to succeed and have the talents and innate capability to do so, but the deep rooted social systems in Miami prevent their success. Serving as an educator here in Miami has given me the exciting opportunity to be a part of the efforts to make sure that minority students have a platform form for their goals built on the foundation of equitable education.

How has Teach For America impacted your career trajectory?

When I began working at my placement site with Teach for America, I was amazed at how many distractions, both systemic and community-based, my students encountered on a daily basis. I did my best to create a loving and welcoming class culture to counter these problems. After completing my second year with Teach for America, I realized that what I really wanted was to pursue lasting civic change for the students in the communities I served. However, I still did not feel as though I had gained enough perspective to achieve large-scale impact. I chose to pursue a third year of teaching at Beacon College Prep, a school also serving the Liberty City community. I wanted to have multiple view points on the same community. What I have discovered from this work is that, even with great school culture, students' ability to engage in the classroom can still be negatively impacted by the complexities of the context they come from. With this problem in mind, I have been growing a startup called Klickengage that provides students coping mechanisms to help them process their emotions in a way that does not hinder their ability to engage with their learning. Teach for America has led to me to a career dedicated to building social-emotional intelligence with students and pursuing policy reform for the implementation of adequate mental health services in public schools.