Meet Our Members – Teach for Poland
We talked with Katarzyna Nabrdalik - CEO & Co-Founder at Teach for Poland - about their plans for the future, education system and why they chose HubHub as their working space!
What inspired you to join Teach for Poland and why are you passionate about what you do?
I decided to join Teach for All after hearing a keynote speech of the CEO of Teach for India. I have always wanted to make a change in the Polish education system, but since the day I heard that speech, I realized that I will be able to fulfil my ambitions through this organization. I started digging more and found out that unfortunately, or fortunately for me, Teach for Poland didn’t exist, so I decided to set it up.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t an easy decision. I had my full-time job, a decent living, and launching a non-profit organization can cause a lot of anxiety, but all my doubts were put to the back burner once I found my purpose. Knowing that there are so many things to be transformed in our education system and there are so many kids that lack equal opportunities made me so frustrated at that time, that I decided to transform that negative energy into something positive. That’s how I discovered my passion to change the education system in Poland, or maybe even more – my passion to level the playing field for every kid within our system.
What is most important to you in the field you are engaged in?
At Teach for Poland, we believe that we all can benefit from children discovering their full potential. We know that our country can be changed for the better if we give equal rights to every single kid.
We are engaged in many different fields at once. Although our priority is the education system, we also spread awareness and knowledge among local communities, schools, parents and business. There are many organizations doing great things for education, but we need to let go of our egos and start thinking collectively about the systemic change that we are all striving to achieve. We all have common goals and as Teach for Poland we want to prove that it is possible to bring business, local communities, kids and schools together to work on one vision that would make everyone benefit from it. Being selfless is what we need.
How was the journey up till now?
Luckily, we met a lot of people who believed in our mission as much as we do. However, the most rewarding meetings that we organize are the ones with kids. We let them voice THEIR needs and tell us about the kind of education THEY want. We want to make children’s voices being heard, that is why we put it at the centre of what we do. It is not about us, adults, imagining education for the young ones, but about giving them a platform to speak and express what they imagine for themselves. It’s a huge learning experience for us.
What advice would you share with fellow founders to help them avoid mistakes that you didn’t expect?
First, know who you are – stay authentic, know your vision, and your purpose. You will meet a lot of people on your way that will offer you their suggestions, opinions and hints. While it is advisable to hear them out, it is even more important to filter what you hear through who YOU are and where YOU are heading. Remember why you started and what were your reasons in the first place, and the idea that you came up with.
Second, build relationships, what we have achieved so far would not be possible without amazing people that we met on our way. We invest a lot of time into creating genuine connections and cultivating them.
Third, take care of your mental health and wellbeing. It’s easy to forget about yourself when you are in the craze of launching an organization or your own business. You cannot give what you do not have, and if you drain yourself out of energy and lose your balance, your business won’t thrive. Listen to your body and your mind, and if they tell you to rest, do it. Keep yourself as a priority!
What do you think I’d be most surprised to find out about your business?
We are a part of a global network – Teach for All – which exists in 60 countries and sends over 65,000 education leaders to public schools every year. We have already impacted almost 6 million kids. When I think about the numbers and scale, I feel very proud.
What are your ambitions for the future?
Two years ago, I would be very intimidated by this question! Even though we are starting with about 50 EduLeaders, my ambition is to put thousands of them into our system. I hope someone who went through our leadership development education program will become the Minister of Education in our country! I hope that Alumni of our program will join local/national governments and reshape public policy around education. We have 5 people in our foundation which may not sound like a lot, but when I think about what we have done so far, I am extremely grateful. We are finalizing our recruitment and had 165 people apply. We will be placing EduLeaders in 25 schools and hope to have an impact on around 8000 students in the first year, alongside preparing ourselves for the summer institute. I’m also proud of the feedback that we received so far, it is great to hear the validation that what we are doing makes sense not just for us, but, first and foremost, for the kids.
Last but not least, why did you choose HubHub as your working space?
We knew that we wanted to work in a place that would feel ours. We work in agile form, we have a lot of meetings, we constantly stimulate our creativity with brainstorms, we talk a lot, and we enjoy getting to know other people’s perspectives.
We needed a sense of community and since the day we stepped into HubHub, we felt it is a place that will help us thrive too. HubHub gave us space in which we can be creative not only due to great design, but mostly because of the people that fuel the place with good energy, who have passion and are doing great things and you can feel that in the corridors.
Since the first message, we felt special and important. I couldn’t be in any better place. HubHub team shares our mission and helps us be the best in achieving our mission and goals, which makes my business thrive. I feel grateful for that and I would recommend it to everyone who wants to feel welcome and have freedom to work how they want to and where they want to.