Best in Class
Caroline Hult (Engl, Hum’04) is a numbers geek.
What started out as a desire to make her experience as recruitment director for Teach For America more efficient became an innovative standard for how the organization selects teachers.
“I deeply believe that who is in the classroom matters tremendously,” she says.
Her novel approach to using data began several years ago as she faced the rigors of recruiting and retaining teachers. The organization receives between 50,000 to 60,000 applications annually for an average of 5,500 positions. As she examined how Teach For America used its reporting tools, she discovered new ways of using the data collected, which led to an increase in the number of teachers hired and retained.
Today she serves as vice president of selection and oversees how the organization uses data to fulfill its mission of bringing quality education to students in low-income communities.
She knows firsthand the difference a teacher can make. By second grade, Hult could barely read. After she transferred to a different school partway through second grade, Hult began reading at high-school level. To this day, she attributes her success to direct instruction.
Sean Waldheim, vice president of admissions and Hult’s manager, credits her deep commitment to students as the driving force behind the visionary approaches she takes to strengthen the organization.
“This passion informs everything she does,” Waldheim explains. “She encourages her team to question assumptions, learn from different perspectives and try new approaches.”
Encouraged by her husband, Elliott Hood (Comm, PolSci’04), Hult joined Teach For America in 2004 as a teacher in a Las Vegas high school. She set the bar high and challenged her low-literacy classroom to complete a college-level research paper by the end of the year. By March, 80 percent of her class had reached their goal.
Since her days in the classroom, she believes her contribution to the organization is in shepherding empirically-backed processes that bridge recruitment, admissions, budget, technology and in-house consulting. Hult calls it “teaching decision making.”
Brett Hembree, managing director of selection research and evaluation, reports to Hult and leads the team of researchers and statisticians responsible for admissions criteria.
“Caroline is motivated by impact,” Hembree says. “She is not content with maintaining the status quo but is always pushing to improve our work, our outcomes, and her own skill set.”
Hult’s dream is for teachers to continue to improve and provide students with the educational opportunities they deserve.
“I believe in the potential of Teach For America,” she says. “It’s an organization that brings human talent to the problem of educational inequity.”