Talia Milgrom-Elcott

Leading The Challenge To Bring More STEM Teachers To Schools

Q&A With Talia Milgrom-Ellcott

What attracted you to the BIF Summit?

I’ve been to the Summit, and I thought it was a wonderful venue for storytelling. BIF is a partner with us, doing interesting work happening around education, a real alignment of efforts. I’ve had a chance to work on projects with Sam Seidel (Director of BIF’s Student Experience Lab) and Whitney Johnson (former BIF Summit storyteller). I thought the BIF Summit would be a wonderful place to tell a story.

Tell us just a bit about the subject of your BIF Summit story.

For the past two years I’ve been working with 100Kin10, which started as a call in President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union address and is now a movement to o train and retain 100,000 excellent STEM teachers by 2021. In the last two years of work, we’ve been developing partnerships and tools, including a map of all the regions where it’s hard to get and retain STEM teachers.

What, to you, is the value of sharing stories?

I love stories — stories are one of only a few deep ways that human beings have held onto memory. Sometimes tell stories to song, like when we read the Torah in synagogue. That’s an ancient vehicle for memory transmission.

I grew up on stories. My grandmother told me all of her stories. She passed away earlier this year. Even when she stopped making total sense, she would tell stories and you could hear the arc, the trajectory, of the story. Now I tell her stories to my kids.

Do you have a motto, or “words to live by”? If so, what is it?

No, I don’t. I’ve never had favorite things, favorite books, or favorite colors. Although, as a kid, purple was by default my “favorite” color because my cousin’s favorite color was pink, and somehow those were the only two choices! Now I try to have norms and guiding principles, but they’re not such that I can easily encapsulate them.

What one thing (or more, if you like) would you like Summit attendees to know about you before they hear your story?

I’m a mother of three girls, and that’s one of the core parts of my identity. Being a mother pushes the limits of my heart, my expansiveness, in the best way. They love stories, and I love sharing stories with them. When I get home one will ask, “Tell me something about your day.” They ask, tell us a story about our bodies, about how the world works, about when we were young.

I also take very seriously that I’m a wife and a partner. I do my best learning about how to be the best me in the world through my husband. He is my center, which I never would have guessed I would say, or I would feel, when I was a 20-something. When we were engaged my husband described me as his “level,” and he got me a level that I have on my desk right now.

I feel like the best work is the good, hard work, the work that stretches you. I call it “tippy-toe work.” It's work that requires creative leaps of imagination, synthesis, adaptation, and creative problem-solving with other people, where the ideas get better.