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A stint with Teach For America was the beginning of a love affair with learning for Jamie Gutter. He is committed to the belief that all kids deserve the right to an excellent education and heads a charter school that is part of a network of free, public college-preparatory middle schools in Nashville.
Q: What have you been up to since graduating from DA?
A: As a proud graduate of Durham Academy in 2007, it feels like just yesterday I was graduating on a hot May day in the Upper School quad. After finishing my time at DA, I went on to UNC-Chapel Hill, where I graduated with a degree in public policy and economics. While at UNC, I had several internships with local political campaigns or public policy nonprofits. I was convinced that I wanted to have a career in public policy. My plan coming out of UNC was to work for a couple of years and then go to law school. I joined Teach For America and taught third grade for two years in Nashville, Tennessee. I ended up loving the school, the students and the work, so I moved up to fourth grade for one more year before that group of kids went to middle school. I also got my master’s degree in education from Lipscomb University while teaching and ended up not wanting to leave education.
Q: What are you doing now?
A: I decided to look for a new school and a potential leadership opportunity. I moved to a brand-new charter school called Valor Collegiate Academy (now known as Valor | Flagship Academy). After teaching math as a founding teacher for two years, I stepped up into the assistant principal role, where I focused on improving our academic instruction. After that year, I was then offered our principal role, and I am currently in my first year as the principal. I’m incredibly proud of Valor; we have consistently ranked as one of the top public schools in Tennessee, and we are on the cutting edge of the social-emotional learning front nationwide.
Q: Why do you do what you do?
A: I continue this work because I strongly believe that all kids deserve the right to an excellent education and want to work in an environment where we are proving what is possible at a middle school.
Q: What DA experiences influenced you or helped you get where you are today?
A: As I make decisions for our school, I often think about my experience at DA and how I can incorporate my experiences there into the daily lives of our students.
Q: What are your interests away from work?
A: While working in Nashville, I also met my wife, Samantha Gutter, who joined Teach For America at the same time. We starting dating as soon as we got to Nashville and got married after three years. We’ve now been happily married for two years. While she no longer is working at a school, she still works in education. After getting her M.Ed. at Vanderbilt University, she now works for the governor of Tennessee as his education policy analyst. We enjoy spending time together exploring our city and all it has to offer, as well as being an uncle and aunt to our nephews and niece.