THRIVE was founded in 2011 by a Teach for America alumna who wanted to create a school that would serve all the needs of her students. She was soon joined by many more who saw the need for a holistic approach to education.
Her story is below:
Sarah Broome, THRIVE Founder
I came to Louisiana by way of Teach for America and spent my first few years here teaching in a failing school. As most other corps members, I faced many challenging situations that first year. Despite all these challenges, another TFA teacher and I were able to lead our students to the largest growth on the iLEAP test in our school that first year. However, I was not satisfied. As most teachers, I felt that while the data are important to inform us, it’s the relationships that motivate us. I was continually frustrated by wanting to give my students the world but not being able to do so.
In the beginning of the 2010 school year, I was met with a challenge greater than any I had yet to face when a student of mine was killed in a violent street fight. As I grappled personally with her death, I grew increasingly frustrated with her life. This student was and her sisters are incredibly bright and gifted girls who, had they been raised with my privileges, would have been exceedingly successful. But their life path has delivered inadequate living conditions, poor education and ultimately death. While struggling with this, I had a thought – not for the first time – that I know every teacher has had at one point: “If I could just take you home with me…” That thought just continued to fester until it grew into a boarding school concept. I loved the idea, but the more I thought about it, the more I became convinced it wasn’t possible.
However, in February 2011, I joined thousands of other TFA corps members and alums at the 20th Anniversary Summit in Washington, D.C. It was a great weekend with many inspiring stories. After one of my sessions, I spoke with a man who had opened a school and told him about my idea. I must have talked for quite a while – just rambling really – about all the obstacles I foresaw. He suddenly stopped me and said, “Stop. You’re thinking too much. Just act.” I stood there a minute and just thought, “OK”.
The next day, I flew home and within a week THRIVE was born. From that moment on, we haven’t stopped moving forward. In April 2011, an amazing group of TFA volunteers came together for a weekend to write the charter. In 48 hours, we produced nearly 200 pages of material, creating essentially, our dream school – a place where kids are looked after, nurtured and taught 24 hours a day and given a chance at the best of what life has to offer.
There is no question that this undertaking will be the greatest challenge we could ever imagine. Doubt, however, is something I will never have. I hope that no one will ever experience a loss that motivates as I did when I lost my first student in August 2010. Or a loss that pushes to go faster, as I experienced in May 2011 when a second student of mine was killed. But one thing that those tragedies have given me is the gift of absolute certainty — certainty that something has to change and certainty that this is the right thing to do.
A picture from our team retreat where we wrote the school charter! A monument in THRIVE’s quickly growing history:
THRIVE was born out of tragedy and loss to be the chance for a generation of students. While our efforts honor their memory, we must ensure that we never again have the need to honor the memory of more such children.