Caitlin Caswell always thought her success was all about hard work. It wasn’t until she joined Teach for America that she realized that wasn’t the case. No matter what she tried, how hard she worked, or how deeply she understood and cared for her students, she was unable to have the kind of impact she knew was needed.
When she started studying policy, however, she began to understand the effect it has on education.
“The more I learned about policy, the more it became abundantly clear that my students’ struggle was not their fault. It was not their families’ fault, or their communities’, or even mine. It was our fault as a society. The education system was not designed to help all students — it was designed to maintain the status quo, to maintain inequitable education. This realization led me to the decision that I had to do whatever I could to make a positive social change for students.”
She participated in the LEE Policy & Advocacy Summer Fellowship, where she interned with the San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA). LEE also provided her with an expert coach who helped her identify the path that best aligned with her interests, goals, and vision for impact.
“My LEE coach helped me to navigate the bureaucracy and advocate for changes that would include input from SAHA residents. But she also empowered me to think beyond the summer internship, to imagine myself making policy changes that would benefit students. She asked tough questions, pushed my thinking, and guided me to name my goals for students and for myself. And once she had me identify that vision, she helped me plan concrete steps to reach that goal.”
Caitlin hopes to continue her work in policy, where she feels she can make a big impact. And she credits LEE with helping her create a foundation.
“The network I have built with LEE and the programming provided will remain a cornerstone of my continuing education. I know that they will support me and provide guidance throughout my career.”
LEE offers free coaching to all of its members. If you are unsure of what your long-term role is in the fight for educational equity, LEE can help you identify the path that best aligns with your interests, goals, and vision for impact. For more information, take the coaching survey.