Jacksonville Public Education Fund (JPEF) is excited to welcome (back!) our new staff member, Carly Yetzer, to the team. We invite you to learn more about Carly and how she developed her passion for ensuring excellent education opportunities exist for all students in Duval County.
Tell us a bit about your story. How did you come to be involved in this work?
I was born and raised in southeastern Wisconsin where I attended public schools, and I graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 2005. In 2006 I matriculated into the Teach for America corps in the Bay Area of California and earned my Preliminary Teaching Credential through Alliant International University in San Francisco. During my first year in the classroom, I taught fourth grade at DJ Meyer Elementary School in San Jose and in my second year, I taught sixth grade English and Language Arts at KIPP Bayview Academy in San Francisco. At both schools, I was privileged to gain a new perspective from my students and their families as well as learn the art of teaching from the dedicated teachers and principals at my schools.
In 2008, I moved to Jacksonville, Florida. Unfortunately, my California teaching credential was not transferable to Florida and I had to find another way to stay involved in education. I worked at Huntington Learning Center as an Assistant Director, managing operations as well as tutoring students. In 2010, I joined JPEF when it was a new non-profit; I was the fourth staff member and provided operational and financial support. Through JPEF, I had the perfect opportunity to return to my roots in public education.
In November of 2014, I made the decision to stay home with my daughter, and later, my son. Over the next three years, I stayed in touch with members of the JPEF team and just as I was beginning to consider a return to the professional workforce, an opportunity to rejoin JPEF surfaced. And here I am!
Who is the teacher, school leader or community member that inspired or helped you to reach this moment in your professional life?
That is a really tough question, and I don’t think I can pick just one - there have been so many people who have supported, nudged and inspired me along the way. First of all, there are the teachers who provided me with my K-12 education and instilled in me a love of learning. Mr. Jonas and Mr. Stein taught me how to write with their merciless critiques of my essays. Ms. Merkert made calculus understandable and fun. And Mr. Marineau taught US History in a way that went beyond memorizing dates and names.
In college, two classmates introduced me to Teach for America’s work and encouraged me to apply. It was through Teach for America that I first gained a real awareness and understanding of the opportunity gaps in our country. Furthermore, the people I worked alongside while teaching in California contributed to my professional development. My mentor teacher, Mrs. Reynolds, supported me in my first year and pushed me to improve. My principals, Mrs. Fox and Ms. Woods, and the teachers on my grade-level teams inspired me with their relentless commitment to their students. And, of course, my own students sparked in me the greatest sense of urgency for this work.
Finally, my colleagues at JPEF have been instrumental in helping me reach this moment in my professional life. When I first joined the JPEF team in 2010, I was given the opportunity to grow professionally as the organization grew. While my position at JPEF is largely behind the scenes, I find inspiration in the dedication and innovation of our programmatic team and the students, parents, teachers, school leaders and other community leaders with whom they collaborate.
What makes you particularly excited to join JPEF at this moment in the life of the organization?
I am thrilled to be returning to the JPEF team - for me, this is a homecoming. As I dive back into the work, I am in awe of the steadfast commitment of the students, parents, teachers, school leaders, and community leaders. I can see that during the three years I have been away their relentless pursuit to provide all students in Jacksonville with an excellent education has inspired others to join and grow the cause.
One specific item that I find exciting is the work on a Parent Training Leadership Institute. Back in 2010, I traveled with Rachael Tutwiler-Fortune (then JPEF’s Community Mobilization Manager) to Delaware to observe a parent leadership program. Now, as I return to JPEF, I will be working with Rachael again (now our Executive Vice President), and the time is right to build Jacksonville’s own parent leadership program.
Jacksonville Public Education Fund believes in the power and potential of great people to drive positive change. To learn more about our team, visit our staff directory.