YES Prep’s Internal Career Fair Aims to Engage Talent and Showcase Growth Opportunities

Last Wednesday, almost 350 teachers and leaders across YES Prep gathered at the Magnolia Hotel to engage in conversations about growth and development at the second annual YES Prep Internal Career Fair.  All of the campuses and departments hosted informational tables, including the newly-launched Memphis region and the upcoming SKY partnership school, YES Prep Northbrook HS.

“Our goal for this event is two-fold; to be as open as we can about what opportunities are available across the system with the leaders of every school and every department right there to talk to, and also to create the environment where our teachers and staff know it’s okay to learn about other paths even when your own manager is likely right there in the room.  People are our priority.  If they’re a great fit for YES Prep, we want to help them find their dream job at YES Prep, even if that means changing schools or moving into a Home Office role,” said Nella Garcia Urban, VP of Talent for YES Prep.

A teacher and grade level chair at YES Prep Fifth Ward, Amara Mattingly, was interested in campus-based leadership opportunities.  “For me, the Internal Career Fair was a great place to launch some important conversations and make connections. Luz Navarro [Director of Student Support] suggested that I speak with Jennifer Greene, the new school director at Hoffman, about some of my ideas for building culture.  [Jennifer] was overflowing with enthusiasm for her work, which gave me an energy boost and sense of optimism for my own work this semester and beyond.  She also suggested we make a coffee date—how awesome is that?—and I fully intend to take her up on it!” 

Bill Durbin, Superintendent for the new Memphis region, was just as excited about the networking as he was about sharing updates for Memphis.  “What I loved most about the ICF is that it was more than just an opportunity for me to speak about our Memphis schools.  This event was a time to connect with amazing people across the system and hear their successes, ambitions, and strong convictions to see students succeed in Houston and Memphis.  I met so many new people and left feeling energized and fortunate to work with such committed and dynamic teammates.”

Many staff also took the opportunity to learn about the Leading Excellence Program, a leadership development program that is a relatively new initiative at YES Prep. 

“I appreciated the chance to easily receive first-hand information about Leading Excellence from a couple of the current Leading Excellence Fellows, as well as from Dustin [Peterson], the director of the program himself,” said William Cloud, a second-year teacher at YES Prep West.

Laura Washington, a campus-based Dean of Instruction as well as current Leading Excellence Fellow, commented on the event’s impact on staff retention.  “It was energizing to be in a room full of people who are all invested in YES Prep and its mission, and empowering to think of all the students who will continue to be positively impacted as we retain exceptional teachers and grow campus leaders.”

Many in attendance were new to YES Prep and went for the chance to meet new people and learn more about the organization.

“The ICF was a great opportunity to meet people in a fun and relaxed, yet professional atmosphere that I had only communicated with previously through emails. Great to put a face with a name,” said Desiree Beaudry, Senior Assistant for Talent Support in the home office. “I enjoyed learning more about the scope of TE [Teaching Excellence] and college initiatives by chatting with Michael Warburton and Chad Spurgeon. Overall, I thought the event was extremely well organized – 2 claps for Chelsey [Freeman] – and the nacho bar was yummy!”

Kyrlyn Chatten, Director of Instructional Leadership, reflected on the cultural impact of the event.  “The ICF has done so much so quickly to shift the culture of hiring at YES. Folks were really excited and empowered to explore all of the different opportunities, and it’s amazing to think how much that can impact their desire to stay. People seemed to feel valued in having the ability to choose their next steps, and I can’t get over how much more generous hiring managers are with their talent. I know it wasn’t an easy event to start last year, and the undertaking is so huge, but it’s incredible to see its impact.”

To learn more about career opportunities at YES Prep, including the Leading Excellence Program, please visit  You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for news and updates.

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