Arne's Open Road

  • INTERVIEWED BY:

    Why Not Us

  • INTERVIEW LOCATION:

    Washington, DC

  • AIRED ON:

    Public Television: Why Not Us

ARNE DUNCAN

US Secretary of Education
US Dept of Education

“Find those people who are going to support you in your journey, who will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.”

INTERESTS:

Education Government

THEMES DISCUSSED:

Determination Education Inspiration Struggle Failure Passion Goals Perseverance Community Honesty Support & Encouragement Money & Financial Security Experience

FOUNDATION:

Teaching / Mentoring

TAGS:

advice, after-school-programs, being an example, can't give up, challenges, college, helping others, homesick, impact, kids, leader, making an impact, mentors, opportunity, passion, potential, public school system, struggle, support system, tutoring

BIOGRAPHY:

  • Grew up in Chicago attending his mother's inner-city tutoring program.
  • Saw how kids who had challenges at home could succeed if they had people who supported them.
  • After spending a year shadowing his mother at work, he knew that teaching was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.
  • Went to Harvard; struggled his first year with grades and homesickness, thought about leaving.
  • After college, he ran an after-school mentoring program, started a new charter school, then served as CEO of Chicago Public Schools.
  • Says he never aspired to be the Secretary of Education-in fact, he didn't even know the job existed; wanted to have an impact and connect kids' potential to opportunity.
  • Still has to pinch himself every day because he can't believe where his path has led, or the opportunity he's been given to make a difference.
  • Says find the people who will support you in your journey; he's had the same mentor for 40 years.
  • Says being a teacher requires "a little toughness and a lot of heart," but it's the most meaningful job in the world.

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