Courtney Van Cleve
Harvard Graduate School of Education
As a student, teacher, principal, and regional director in Mississippi’s public school system, Courtney Van Cleve is a product of and advocate for rural education. After graduating from Mount Holyoke College, Courtney returned home to Mississippi through Teach For America. From there, she committed seven years to the Clarksdale Municipal School District—first as a middle school English teacher and then as the principal of Booker T. Washington Elementary School. Courtney’s firm belief in the power of talent recruitment, development, and retention to transform American preK-12 education is rooted in partnering with teachers to improve Booker T. Washington’s accountability label from an “F” to “A” rating in three years as an administrator. While leading Teach For America-Mississippi’s teacher development efforts, she became aware of the state’s critical teacher shortage. As a result of this experience, she continues to explore policies and innovations with the potential to increase rural students’ access to exemplary learning environments.