When math teacher Kirsten Ecker saw a job listing calling for a "Teacher/Super Star" at the Match High School, a charter school in Boston serving the inner city population, she jumped at it. For four years, she taught geometry, pre-calculus and AP calculus, and she did indeed prove to be a superstar, winning two awards for the gains her students made on standardized tests.
So, when her boss at Match invited her to be the founding curriculum director at Match Tutors, Ecker signed up. In the first year, Match Tutors sent 50 tutors into two failing schools in Lawrence, Massachusetts, armed with lessons, assessments and best teaching practices all established by Ecker. The results were astounding: The Student Growth Percentile went from 23 percent to 75 percent after just one year. In 2015, she went on to work at Match's new incarnation, SAGA Innovations, which serves 680 students in New York City with high-dosage 1-on-2 math tutoring. Ecker believes students won't learn if you do all the heavy lifting for them: "When teaching, my goal is always to look like I'm the laziest person in the class," says Ecker. "Because [then] the students have to do all the work." Her students would do well to learn from her — she seems to have no problem with hard work herself. "I'm not just a teacher from 9-5," she says. "This is not a job. This is a mission."