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Kathy and her students

Double Impact Teaching

How Change Leader Kathy Clunis D'Andrea educates thousands of children by teaching both her own class and future teachers

By Laura White

In May 2012, Laura graduated from Tulane University with a B.A. in Political Economy. While at Tulane, Laura brought her Youth Venture project, Swim 4 Success, to New Orleans, LA, and was a founding member of Tulane’s Ashoka U Changemaker Campus team. As a member of the Empathy Initiative, Laura manages the Changemaker Schools network, a group of schools that have given empathy as much priority as math and literacy. Laura is passionate about changemaker education, empathy, and transforming early childhood education.

December 10, 2012

On my visit to Changemaker School Mission Hill last month, I arrived at Kathy’s classroom at just the right time – lunch! At a long table in the front of the classroom, Kathy and her whole class of four and five-year olds sat enjoying food and each other’s company. However, I was not the only other grown-up at the table. Joining the class for the semester was another student – an older one with a passion for teaching and an interest in becoming as effective an educator as Kathy. Maria Drakopoulos was in Kathy’s other class – at the University of Massachusetts, where Kathy spends her evenings cultivating empathy, leadership, teamwork, initiative, and the basic skills of being a great teacher in the state’s next education workforce.

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Kathy’s aspirations for contributing to the education of future teachers goes beyond her class at the University of Massachusetts. Kathy is also an avid attendee of conferences and hosts many an education visitor to her classroom. She and her fellow Mission Hill Change Leader, Jenerra Williams, even told me that someday, they hope to write a book to help teachers cultivate critical changemaking skills in students. Managing her roles as a change leader, teacher educator, and elementary school teacher, Kathy is truly a leading example of a changemaker educator, and Maria was so glad to be her student.

While I sat enjoying the lunch period and talking with the students about the chrysalises in their science center, Maria asked students thoughtful questions, cleaning up yogurt spills, and closely observing Kathy. I was struck by how much Kathy’s university students must learn from her, and I could not help but hope that more changemaker educators like Kathy commit to helping the country’s future teachers become changemaker teachers as well.