Team Member Spotlight: Jessica Bunzol

We would not be able to fulfill our mission without our staff, a group of professionals who intentionally work across difference, are experts in their field, and care deeply about young people and their postsecondary journeys.

Each month, we’ll highlight a member of our team by “passing the mic” to hear directly from them about their work and purpose. This month, we are highlighting one of our Transformation Coaches, Jessica Bunzol.

What do you do at the Network for College Success?

I serve as a Transformation Coach, a role that invites me into team spaces where I coach team leads to build the necessary conditions, data routines and learning cycles to honor young peoples’ voices as truth and leverage their experiences in planning for and enacting classroom practice shifts.

How do you help high school teams build on the work they’re doing and make improvements? 

Much of my work is about supporting adults to center the voices and experiences of young people — to honor these voices as truth and position them as the driver of their instructional improvement work. Success teams use this student experience data to better understand the impact of their improvement efforts and to make shifts to their current instructional practice.

What about the culture of NCS empowers you to show up the way you do?

NCS requires me to show up in my stance — both in our NCS community spaces and in my coaching. This empowers me to make clear my own non-negotiables about: 1) centering the humanity and brilliance of young people of color in our conversations; and 2) entering this work in the spirit of both love for and accountability to one another. The centering of stance also makes me reflect about my own identity as a white woman. This is a central part of what I must do to work toward the experiences and outcomes Black and Brown young people deserve.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?

I love being in community with teachers — to experience their brilliance, to witness their learning, and to support their growth. When teachers are able to drop the armor (something we all “wear” when receiving feedback and engaging with young peoples’ experiences as truth), powerful learning and shifts in practice happen. My favorite part of my role is seeing teachers work collectively and challenge one another to center the experiences of young people in their classroom communities. 

Can you share a memorable moment or achievement during your time with NCS?

I had the privilege of supporting the Al Raby CTE team in their work around student voice and affirming the identities of Black boys in their classroom. As a community of learners, we were able to meet twice weekly to unpack our own identities, to listen to the perspectives of Black boys in the school community and, in the skin we are in, create classrooms and curriculums that center and honor Black boys. This work resulted not only in deep community in the team space but also in shifting the experiences of Black boys in classroom spaces as evidenced by large gains in the team’s Elevate data.
Elevate data is part of a survey administered throughout the year to capture direct feedback from students. 

Outside of work, what are some of your hobbies or interests that you enjoy pursuing?

I have two sweet girls who are my center; I love spending time with them and with my partner running around at local parks, checking out animals at the zoo and going on adventures — most of which include ice cream! When I’m not working or with my family, I love running along the riverfront. The sun and water give me peace and support me to sustain in this work.
Want to meet other remarkable staff at NCS? Visit our staff directory page here.