Amanda Craft.jpg
Working at Bridgewater

Amanda Craft Is Mustering the Next Generation of Teachers at Uncommon Schools

Education is going through challenging times in America: classrooms are overcrowded, and funding is evasive. On top of that, the country is facing a national teacher shortage. Teacher strikes are recurrent and the number of applicants to education schools — the traditional pipeline that feeds recruitment — has fallen dramatically in a white-hot economy. At a time when a good K-12 education is the key to preparing students for an uncertain future of work, that education and the people who make it possible are becoming harder to find.

It is a task that Amanda Craft (’12-’18) takes seriously. Last year, Amanda joined the leadership team at Uncommon Schools, a network of high-performing K-12 public charter schools that educates 19,000 students at 54 schools across the northeast. Eighty-two percent of those students are considered economically disadvantaged. But, in a world where the deck seems stacked against them, Uncommon students routinely outpace their district peers by double digit percentiles on everything from proficiency to college completion. Since 1997, 99% of Uncommon seniors have been accepted to a four-year college.

As Senior Director of Recruitment, Amanda is in charge of hiring every single adult they interact with along that journey, overseeing six regional teams tasked with staffing everyone from the school receptionist to the CFO. She faces overwhelming recruitment odds in the education sphere. But Amanda’s background arms her well for the challenge.

She began her mission-driven career at Teach For America, where she developed a passion for educational equality. Then one day, she took a call from Bridgewater and was sold just by her interview process. “If I can get the type of feedback that I got in my interview for the next two years,” she thought, “It’s going to really help me to become someone who can shape change and be a really strong leader in education.”

Amanda ended up spending more than just a couple years at Bridgewater. She started on the recruitment team, facilitating some of the most important searches in the company — sourcing talent for some of Bridgewater's most senior roles (CTO, General Counsel, Head of Trading) and working with Ray as he thought through his own succession plan. Her love of data eventually took her to the Dots Team where she worked with Dave Ferrucci to help build a system to analyze resume data to automatically contribute to a richer understanding of people's values, abilities, and skills.

Now at Uncommon, Amanda uses the strategic thinking she learned at Bridgewater to fuel her daily impact. Less than a year into her new role, she has implemented new hiring strategies by shifting the team towards targeted outreach (versus unsolicited applications); focusing on digital media strategy; and increasing, by 85%, the number of quality applications to Uncommon's teaching fellows program, which serves as their most powerful diversity pipeline.

She says her constant assessment of processes comes from her days at Bridgewater. "I learned to ask the bigger question, to really understand, identify, and diagnose problems, and to be able to leverage metrics," she said. Put more bluntly: "When Founder Ray Dalio asked me a question, I needed to know why I was making a suggestion and have the evidence to back it."

At a rocky time for teacher hiring, Amanda's data-driven approach has had a significant impact on both the quality and quantity of recruits at Uncommon. There's been an impressive 90% increase in the percentage of applicants now qualified for an interview, meaning the right people are being asked to the table. When September arrives, she is confident she'll have the best pool of teachers the network has seen in several years. And, she and her team are most proud that at least eight of those teachers will be Uncommon graduates, returning as full-time teachers.

Amanda sees the roots of her success in her time on the Recruiting and Dots teams. "I think I could have done this role," she said. "But I don't think I would have been as good at this role without Bridgewater…Bridgewater was not my ultimate mission, but it is the thing that is allowing me to be successful. It is what is allowing me to perform and have impact on my ultimate mission at a much greater level."

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