Recognizing that most Andover students and alumni are not aware of the work done by the Institution of Recruitment of Teachers (IRT), Asabe Poloma looks to bridge the gap between IRT and the Andover community as she takes on her new role as the Executive Director of IRT.
IRT supports undergraduate students and recent college graduates who are interested in diversity and pursuing careers in education by offering a four-week summer course, as well as a year-long mentoring program in preparation for education-related graduate school. Poloma, current Director and Interim Executive Director of IRT, will succeed Kelly Wise, who founded IRT in 1990.
Poloma hopes to address the lack of diversity in the nation’s teaching institutions and enhance education systems across the country, leading IRT’s effort to increase the number of students of color pursuing advanced degrees in education.
“My role as the Executive Director will not necessarily be new, but it will be a shift. [Previously] as Director, the scope of my work [was] on program development, assessment and improvement, and I mostly worked on improving the IRT student and alumni experience,” Poloma said.
“I hope to still focus on these aspects, but I think my role will change in the sense that I will have to be more externally focused— really looking to develop new partnerships, both internally with PA, but also looking nationally [and] creating new connections that help IRT advance its mission,” she continued.
Poloma’s passion, managerial skills and dedication to improving the performances of IRT students distinguishes her from the other finalists for the position, said Stephen Frank ’81, IRT Executive Committee Chair.
Poloma said, “The opportunity to work with students compelled me to work for IRT. Before, I worked at a private foundation that funded IRT, so I was excited to work with the students directly for the first time in my career, instead of just hearing of them.”
Frand said in an email to The Phillipian, “The Executive Director position attracted enormous interest due to IRT’s prominence and Andover’s reputation as a thought-leader in the field of education. Asabe has extensive relevant experience as a leader in non-profit organization management, including her roles with IRT.”
IRT operates entirely on donations from both Andover and IRT alumni. “One of our weak points is that we have a very excellent program, but it’s not very well-known beyond a handful of alumni and current administrators, and therefore we do struggle to appeal for financial support,” said Poloma.
“Working at Phillips Academy, [where] you take academic excellence and combine with values that are unique to PA, such as ‘non sibi,’ and ‘private school with a fundamentally public purpose,’ is very motivating and inspiring,” she added.
Prior to joining Andover and the IRT in 2008, Poloma was a graduate research assistant at the University of Massachusetts and program assistant to the Research Universities and Humanistic Program at The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, according to Andover’s website.