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Meet TLI: Joanna Lein

What do you do at TLI? 

I am proud to serve as the Executive Director and Founder of TLI. I have a variety of hats from coaching teachers, coaching leaders, designing professional development, partnering with districts and other organizations, fundraising, managing our staff, and projecting forward on our overall strategy. 

How did your career path lead you to TLI? 

I started as a classroom teacher, as we all did. I found out early on that the adults in the building drive outcomes for kids. I joined the Teach For America staff and I got the coaching bug – I saw the impact that coaching teachers could have on students and adults. But each year, teachers were new, the work was hard, and it seemed like we weren’t making any progress so I joined Cleveland Public Schools as the Assistant Superintendent. As I looked around the education system, I saw a growing need to develop systems around new teachers and I felt compelled to do something about it. Hence, TLI was born. 

What is your favorite thing about doing this work? 

I love the one-on-one work. You get to know people and their motivations. You get to know classrooms and kids. While professional development can be effective, it sometimes feels distant from the work. There is nothing like being in a classroom. 

What do you hope for students in Oklahoma?

I hope that every single student has access to an excellent teacher. For this to be true, we must invest in developing teachers and principals (because people quit their bosses). We also need pathways that are accessible for anyone interested in joining the profession. 

What else should we know about you?

I am originally from the suburbs of Chicago and my family is still there. They are still confused why I am in Oklahoma but I am very happy with the life my family and I have built here. I am a proud mother of two. We spend a lot of time at parks and at lakes. I am also an avid backgammon player and rower. 

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