Meet Karen Gentry

TEACH’s Director of Strategy & Operations

It was at school where Karen always felt most safe and most valued, and it was a teacher who, at 16, saved her life. In Coach Maldonado’s AP World History class, Karen was given space to thrive. It’s an experience she has never forgotten and one that fueled her passion for education and her conviction to help students learn and move forward.

While a path in teaching might’ve seemed an obvious choice, Karen leveraged and sharpened her strong analytical and strategic thinking skills as a Certified Public Accountant, working in both corporate auditing and finance. It was as a nonprofit consultant, helping nonprofits with organizational structure and strategy, that Karen first learned about TEACH, which provided her with what she calls the “sweet spot” for combining her passions with her strengths. In her role as Director of Strategy & Operations, Karen sets up the foundational systems that help TEACH fulfill its mission. Karen began an MBA program at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business in fall 2021.

Karen has come a long way since that tenth-grade classroom, but her experience has remained an everlasting testament to the power of education and the role teachers play day after day. It’s this experience that fuels her commitment to helping improve (and in some cases, save) students’ lives, one classroom at a time. After all, every student deserves their own Coach Maldonado.

TEACH: When did your interest / experience in education begin?
KG: Growing up in the tiny town of Seguin, TX, I was in and out of Child Protective Services (CPS) and poverty for most of my childhood. From an early age, school was the only place I ever felt safe, valued and worthy. When I was 16, a teacher saved my life from suicide. Coach Maldonado, who taught my AP World History class, picked up on the signs the day that I had made up my mind to take my life. He took a real interest in me and truly saved my life; it’s something I’ve never forgotten. Since then, I’ve been very interested in education and social impact. I knew I didn’t want to be a teacher, so my career path in education has looked a little bit different, but I always wanted to work somewhere where I could make an impact and serve the community. I have a big personal interest in improving education and in closing the job skills gap to help students move forward.

TEACH: What do you love most about working in education?
KG: The support we’re providing for teachers has an impact on thousands upon thousands of students, which eventually turns into millions of lives impacted. When children are engaged in school, they remain curious and learning. Those students grow up into happy, healthy adults with a better life after school. For me, working in education means having an exponential impact on students through their teachers. It’s really about improving the future.

TEACH: At the end of the day, what is one thing you find most fulfilling about your job?
KG: I love that I am able to use my different skills and passions to make an impact. I think the happiest people are the ones who are using their strengths and passions at work. For me, TEACH provides that sweet spot.

TEACH: When you’re not working, what do you absolutely love to do?
KG: My husband and I have two daughters, ages four and three, who are 17 months apart, so there are a lot of happy hour cocktails crafted at home! We all love being outdoors. We’ll drive to Oklahoma, Colorado or New Mexico to go hiking and exploring and just enjoy being outside. Every night if the sun is out, I love to sit by our pool and just soak in the surroundings. I’m also an avid reader and a podcast junkie. I usually have 3-4 books I’m reading or listening to at any given time.

TEACH: Anything else you’d like me or someone new to TEACH to know?
KG: We’re helping equip teachers with the skill sets that ultimately help them build a better culture in their classrooms. A better, positive classroom environment is crucial to learning. I think that’s the thing that we need to focus on sharing: that we’re helping transform classroom culture and, ultimately, school culture.

Support TEACH

When you shop at smile.amazon.com Amazon donates

Address

2900 Weslayan, Suite 375
Houston, TX, 77027

Email

info@toeducateallchildren.org

Phone

713.300.1097

 

Copyright © 2021 Knowledge Arts Foundation D/B/A To Educate All Children | Website by ASTOUNDZ

 

Support TEACH

When you shop at smile.amazon.com Amazon donates

Address

2900 Weslayan, Suite 375
Houston, TX, 77027

Email

info@toeducateallchildren.org

Phone

713.300.1097

Copyright © 2021 Knowledge Arts Foundation D/B/A To Educate All Children | Website by ASTOUNDZ