Education in the City – Will Kaplan ‘13

Education in the City – Will Kaplan ‘13

Interviewed by Sophia Gourley ‘19

SG: What have you done since leaving Trinity? That can be something work-related, career-related, family-related, really whatever you want to share.

WK: I finished Trinity and, like a lot of people, at least in my year, I didn’t have a great game plan. I didn’t know exactly what to do, so I did an AmeriCorps program and loved working in schools and loved learning about education policy, so I decided to do Teach for America right here in Chicago, my home. I did Teach for America for two years and loved teaching and working in schools and I wasn’t ready to stop, so this is my fifth year teaching. Next year I’m going to grad school to study to become a principal.

SG: That’s awesome, good for you!

WK: I’m really excited about it. In Chicago we also have local school councils, which is sort of like an elected board that run individual public schools. I ran for two school councils that are in my neighborhood and now I work on the school board there.

SG: That’s great! It sounds like you’ve done a lot since graduating Trinity. Do you know where you’re going to grad school yet?

WK: I’m going to The Harvard Graduate School of Education.

SG: That’s amazing! So you’re coming back to New England?

WK: I am! I’m excited, I miss it a little bit. Chicago is home, it’s where I grew up, so I’ve always wanted to live here and I want to come back after school, but I’m excited to go for a year and study instead of work and just enjoy the Northeast.

SG: That’s great. What did you learn at Trinity that has helped you in your career so far?

WK: I didn’t have any hardcore job specific skills really. It wasn’t like I came out and was like, “Yeah now I know how to be a great teacher.” I didn’t. But it did prepare me to navigate everything after college. I can sit down in a meeting and be able to discuss and give my perspective and take something out of a text or do a lot of the things that are really important to all jobs, like communicating, making observations, thinking critically. Trinity really gave me a lot of those things. I felt unprepared for the working world but knew a lot about urban studies and sociology and politics, yet that wasn’t really tangible. But as I got older, compared to other people, I feel like I can navigate a lot of different environments and go to grad school, which is something I’ve always wanted to do and Trinity prepared me really well for that application and process.

SG: That makes a lot of sense. What is your proudest accomplishment since graduating from Trinity? It seems like getting into Harvard and being elected to the school board would definitely be two great accomplishments.

WK: Definitely being elected to two local school councils. I got pretty pumped up about that. They were really small elections like under 100 votes, but it was exciting to stand out there and talk to people and hand out flyers and tell parents why I think I would help the school out. I’m at one school that’s arguably the top school in the city of Chicago and just a couple miles away I’m at a school that’s way under enrolled and struggling and test scores are way down. So I think it’s been fascinating to see the “Tale of Two Cities” just a couple miles apart.

SG: So right now you teach at a public school in Chicago?

WK: Right now I teach at a charter school. There’s a lot of misconceptions around charter schools. We are a public school, any kid can come here, but we’re run by an organization that’s not the city so we set our own rules and have a lot more freedom to do whatever we want. It’s called the Noble Network of Charter Schools. It’s the most successful charter network in Chicago and of the open enrollment schools, where anyone can go, we’re in the top 10 for the city.

SG: What you would like other alumni or Trinity to know about you, any important milestones?

WK: I think being elected to the school board and getting into Harvard would be two accomplishments I am proud of.