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It was a personal affront when Frances Kraft MAT ’10 saw firsthand the achievement gap between children of different races at her daughter’s school. After returning to Dominican University to earn her teaching credentials, it became her professional mission to close it.
Even before finishing her degree, Kraft started working to combat the issue. With the support of Dean Colleen Reardon and several professors, she developed a program called Power of Partnerships to bring together low-achieving students with community volunteers for extra help with reading and homework.
Transitioning from a career in corporate communications, Kraft says faculty members encouraged her to leverage her experience in building partnerships to help reach her goals.
"Instead of attending meetings about the achievement gap, reading newspaper articles, and trying to understand it as an outsider, I have been able to work directly with students who are struggling,” Kraft says.
Before starting her student teaching, she approached the principal of O.W. Holmes Elementary School in Oak Park with her idea. The school’s administration was impressed and invited Kraft to complete her student teaching there.
The program continued to build momentum, eventually expanding into the summer months with additional support participants in the Community Leadership Program of Dominican’s Brennan School of Business.
When an opening for a full-time teaching position became available at Holmes, Kraft was a natural fit. Since taking the position, she has continued to build the Power of Partnerships program, and its successes have been recognized by media outlets including the Chicago Tribune and the Wednesday Journal.
"My MAT degree from Dominican allowed me to make the career change into education," Kraft says. “With knowledge from the Dominican classroom and 100 hours of field experience, I feel I had an excellent foundation.”