April Clark started her career in accounting, then became a high school teacher to now running a non profit that helps students put on concerts! The birth of Reach and Teach stemmed from an unlikely partnership between herself and a rock star, both of which share a passion and desire to impact the lives of young people struggling to find their way in life.
April Clark is the executive director and co-founder of Reach and Teach, an innovative, nonprofit educational program that allows high school students to gain industry experience while exploring various career paths and building self-confidence. The birth of Reach and Teach stemmed from an unlikely partnership between herself and a rock star, both of which share a passion and desire to impact the lives of young people struggling to find their way in life.
Beginning her professional career in the business industry, April Clark holds a Bachelor's degree in Accounting and industry experience in marketing, sales, and business administration. Unable to fulfill her calling in the burrows of an office building, Clark returned to the University of North Alabama to obtain a Master's degree in Secondary Education, with a focus on business and marketing. Fulfilling the role as a high school Business & Marketing teacher gave Clark the platform she needed to provide opportunities and guidance for students to find their passion and purpose in this journey we call life. Clark was recently a finalist for Shoals Woman of the Year, a speaker at TEDxWilsonPark, and a member of the Alabama Leadership Initiative.
The Concert Idea
April’s very first year teaching, she had the unique responsibility of raising a lot of money quickly. Two of her students qualified for a national competition in Anaheim, CA. In order for her students to go, she had to raise the money. The students decided they really wanted to have a concert. As a first year teacher, she was super nervous. Luckily, she had a supportive administration and presented it to the Board of Education. This concert was the perfect vehicle for students to learn about entrepreneurship.
The band they used for the very first concert. Just by happenstance, the lead singer was really interested in reaching the lives of young people as well. After seeing the truly unique change in students from the first concert, they decided to take it further and impact more students. They spent several months planning a curriculum and making it scalable. It grew quicker than they ever could imagine. They were 2 years in, and it was time to make a decision. If they wanted the non profit to grow, someone was going to have to do this full time. She chose the risk of leaving the classroom, and leaving the stability to really venture out into a world she knew nothing about. Since that time, it has grown exponentially. Her ability to touch even more lives beyond the classroom.
Surprise of Running a Nonprofit
What surprised April the most was all of the skills you need to truly effectively run a nonprofit. It’s not just basic skills like communication and collaboration. There’s also the part of understanding the legal and financial aspect. There’s a lot of behind the scenes of a nonprofit that is so much more than helping people and implementing your program. The best part is being able to see the impact first hand and working with students is truly rewarding.
Courage Up Moment
The first concert. Making the decisions to do something big and unexpected in the education world. As a teacher, she always wanted to bring in real world experiences to students, but never anticipated having a concert on campus. The moment of listening to the students and really allowing them to choose the concert project and do it.
There are equal amounts of Couraging Up in the classroom and in the nonprofit world, but it is a little different. When she was a classroom teacher, the risks would only impact her and her students in the classroom. In her role in the nonprofit, it's not impacting just the students in her classroom, it could potentially impact thousands of students.
April is constantly choosing to courage up because she always remembers how life changing one yes can be.
It’s so fulfilling seeing them come from a shy student who doesn't like school, to a student who possesses leadership skills, confidence, or a new found path of what they might want to pursue as a career. Students are open to it and test the waters to see if it’s something they enjoy. It’s not only exposing them to it, but they get a chance to step outside their comfort zone and try new things.
Take the risk no matter how scary. You’ll never regret it. You might learn if you don’t succeed the first time; there’s always opportunities to succeed. You cannot wait for opportunities to come to you. You have to create the opportunities for yourself. The final step is not being afraid to walk through that door.
Next for Reach and Teach
This is the pilot year for their new program: to plan, promote, and produce an entertainment broadcast. Essentially,they’re producing a TV show. All of the schools that are enrolled, their episodes are premiering December 11th. Head over to Reach and Teach and vote on your favorite one!
Reach and Teach also has a virtual lunch and learn. It is heavily focused on networking. Networking is the number 1 skill to succeed in life. Students don’t know what networking is and don’t realize they can begin building their network now. This is a chance for them to connect with industry professionals.
They also have a virtual interview series. This connect students with industry professionals mainly sports and entertainment, and puts them in a room together to learn.
Just Hold On by Louis Tomlinson
Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
Connect With April
LinkedIn: April Clark
IG: Reach and Teach
Connect With Ming:
Facebook: Ming Shelby
Listen to songs on the Courage Up Playlist!
Courage Up Facebook Community