Eric Guckian, who helped launch Teach For America in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools before becoming Gov. Pat McCrory’s education adviser, is leaving to work for a national group that helps teacher cadets turn into education leaders.
Starting in August, Guckian will take an executive post with Leadership for Educational Equity, a nonpartisan group based in Washington, D.C., that works at developing leadership among TFA alums. He’ll remain in Durham.
“It’s a heck of an opportunity,” Guckian said Wednesday. Working in the thick of North Carolina politics has been “a wild ride,” he added.
Guckian personifies the mission of TFA, which recruits promising college graduates who didn’t major in education, gives them a crash course in urban education and sends them into high-poverty schools that struggle to fill teaching jobs. Guckian joined the program and taught elementary school science in New York City.
TFA teaching stints are designed to last three years, though some leave sooner and some stay in the profession. The group’s goal is to keep its alumni involved in promoting good public education, whether they go into politics, start their own schools, work with advocacy groups or simply engage as citizens.
“I’ve always thought the real genius of Teach For America was the second part of the mission,” Guckian said.
He was executive director of TFA North Carolina when it brought the program to CMS. He later spent almost five years in Charlotte heading New Leaders, a program to recruit, train and support principals who can turn around low-performing schools.
When McCrory, a former Charlotte mayor, became governor in 2013 he brought Guckian on as his top education adviser. In a statement announcing Guckian’s departure, McCrory credited him with helping get raises for teachers and creating a statewide teacher network to share ideas for classroom techniques.
“Eric’s passion for students and teachers helped us achieve improvements that reach into every classroom in North Carolina,” McCrory said.
McCrory is now in the market for Guckian’s successor.