Newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest from MAKERS delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for new stories from trailblazing women, a big dose of inspiration, and exclusive MAKERS content.

Newsletter Confirmation

Thank you for joining! Please check your inbox for our special welcome letter
with exclusive updates from MAKERS.

MAKERS Moment

Winning Students Over

Winning Students Over

More From Michelle

In this video

Rhee shares her insights on how, as a young teacher, she eventually won over her unruly students.

Michelle's Biography

Cause of Choice: City Year
Most Proud Of: Raising two great kids
Inspirational Role Model: Warren Buffet
Meaningful Advice Received: Former NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein telling her to "lead from the front."

The daughter of South Korean émigrés, and herself educated for a year in her parents’ homeland, Michelle Rhee graduated from Cornell before landing in the principled—and prestigious—Teach For America program. By her late 30s, she had become the point person for one of the boldest and most controversial school reform efforts in American municipal history. As Chancellor of Washington DC’s schools, Rhee instituted merit pay for teachers, fought for art and music classes, and championed charter schools (look for Rhee in the acclaimed documentary Waiting for Superman).  Her push meant locking horns with teachers’ unions and, as Rhee predicted sadly, cost Mayor Adrian Fenty his job. But it did something more: her example helped to drastically reshape the national discussion on teachers and schools. In late 2010, while advising Republican governors in Florida and Nevada, she formed StudentsFirst, a bipartisan grassroots movement committed to enlisting one million members and raising a billion dollars on behalf of American education.

Related Videos

Malika Saada Saar
Malika Saada Saar
Human Rights for Girls

Malika Saada Saar is a Washington-based advocate for women and girls’ rights. She is the Executive Director of the Human Rights Project for Girls, a new effort focused on the...

Barbara Smith
Barbara Smith
Groundbreaking Publisher of Women of Color

Barbara Smith and her twin sister Beverly are the products of a powerful upbringing. As young girls growing up in Cleveland, they were surrounded by an extended family made up enti...

Amy Lehman
Amy Lehman
Doctor & Activist

Amy Lehman is the founder of the Lake Tanganyika Floating Health Clinic, which provides health care access via a traveling ship to millions of Central African people who live in th...

Byllye Avery
Byllye Avery
Women's Health Advocate

For more than 30 years, Byllye Avery has been a health care activist dedicated to bettering the welfare of low-income African American women through self-help groups and advocacy n...