Rhea Steele

Chief Operating Officer

I feel very strongly about continuous learning from the individual and societal perspectives. It’s very important for me personally and us, as a society, to continue growing our knowledge, and continuously improve as a result of that new knowledge.

That’s the reason I initially pursued a degree in museum studies – it combined my enjoyment of paleontology and anthropology with an avenue to give that knowledge back through a museum experience. Interning in a variety of museums helped me to think differently about the relationship between formal learning experiences (classroom) and informal learning experiences (museums); I found that by pairing both, kids can be exposed to experiences and concepts they may not otherwise connect with. It’s been fascinating to watch teachers pull informal learning strategies into the classroom as they implement hands-on and project-based learning experiences. In a museum, people drive their own learning experience. More and more, teachers are finding ways to help kids take ownership of and drive their learning experiences in the classroom too. 

I draw connections from those experiences of formal and informal learning to organizational design and culture, which is my primary focus at CAEP. Like teachers in the classroom, as an accreditor, we also have to be nimble. As an organization we have to be able to respond to the evolving political and environmental context, all while providing transparency and ensuring the integrity of our standards. Over the past nine years, I’ve been steeped in the broader education policy environment and I bring that breadth of knowledge to our work as an accreditor in that landscape. As I reflect on my role at CAEP, I see us strengthening the fabric of the organization and orienting toward our strategic goals. Over the next few years, I’ll be working closely with CAEP’s president to empower staff to connect the strategic vision of the Board with the day-to-day work of CAEP. My goal is for every member of the organization to be able to see the strategic goals of the organization reflected in the work they do and vice versa. 

As an organization, CAEP is always learning from our constituents while they learn from us. It is important to me that we appreciate and acknowledge this relationship and act on lessons learned. This is how a healthy and agile organization grows best. I am very excited about the opportunities before us and look forward to supporting CAEP’s mission of advancing educator preparation and improving P-12 learning.