A Letter from CEO Anissa Listak


May 3, 2022 — I am a lucky woman: At NCTR, I have had the unique experience of being surrounded by talented, innovative people for more than 15 years. We have worked tirelessly to help put great teachers of color in front of deserving students. It has been thrilling to watch the teacher residency grow exponentially over the years, and it has been a tremendous honor to have served at the helm of this organization. Throughout my time, I’ve felt humbled and inspired to contribute to the teacher residency movement, and I’m going to miss so many aspects of what makes NCTR great.

The Students

The energy felt when walking into a school building is almost a universal experience, and to see great teachers nourishing student minds has kept NCTR focused since its inception. To best serve students–truly serve students–what does an excellent teacher say and do? To build a body of teachers who are as diverse and experienced as the students they teach, how does talent find its way to the classroom? With institutions and organizations committed to preparing new teachers, how do we build on the best practices and research? I know that my time with NCTR has introduced thousands of new faces to education as a profession, and tens of thousands of students have seen those faces at the front of their classroom ready to teach from day one. I look forward to watching this momentum continue.

The Impact

Movement. Equity. Residency. Partner. Mentor. Learner. These words carry so much meaning and value to the NCTR team. I have had the privilege to be part of so many conversations seeking to define and understand the impact these words have on students and schools. The thoughtfulness of those discussions shows up across the field today–we see teacher residencies defining an effective teacher in federal and state legislation; emerging research from the field to support the advancement of the model; and in school districts, universities, and classrooms, there is an authentic focus on what good teacher preparation looks like, particularly for teachers of color. Teacher residencies have and can continue to impact so many individuals – residents, mentors, and students – while also serving the communities in which they reside. I am excited for the future of this teacher residency movement.  

The Team

From the day I launched NCTR, and in growing numbers throughout the past decade, I have had the support and guidance of so many creative and experienced individuals. Initially, I worked from my couch–something I didn’t expect to happen again 15 years later–and today, I work alongside a Chicago-based and virtual team from across the country. NCTR has an amazing team of talented leaders, advisors, funders, allies, and friends. I believe that working with this team is the very luckiest part of being at NCTR. It is their support, their commitment, and their determination that has allowed us to grow our Network, impact, and reach over these past 15 years. 

And Women (in particular)

For the first decade of NCTR’s existence, the team was made up of only women and mostly working mothers. I had two kids of my own during my tenure and I experienced firsthand how difficult it can be to be an executive and mother. My position allowed me to create what was truly needed to support my female staff, as both the bedrock of the organization and their homes. This taught me tremendous empathy because I could see myself in the people on my team, and that empathy led me to embrace equity more authentically. All of this mattered a ton when the pandemic started, as we already had most of what people needed in place as core elements of our work culture. 

Early on, it was also all women who gave NCTR its first grants; women who took a risk on me because they too, could see themselves in me. I have learned so much from the exceptional women on my board, on my team, and in my life, and will be forever grateful for their coaching, guidance and mentorship. 

I am excited for NCTR’s future. Dr. Kathlene Holmes Campbell is a talented and focused leader. NCTR will thrive under her leadership. I know that NCTR and the amazing individuals surrounding it will carry on this enormous idea— only with a core commitment to teacher residencies can we do our part to address the enduring and systemic inequities that exist in schools.  

Thank you all for being part of my adventure; it has been an honor.