One Day,

I hope the world becomes better than when we got it…

Why did you decide to become a teacher?

I had some pretty amazing teachers in my life and some that were not so wonderful. Sometimes, I would get stuck with those terrible ones for a whole year. It was evident that these teachers did not enjoy teaching or their students. I knew that if I ever worked with students I would never want to be that same teacher. I have been teaching people my entire life. When my family needs to learn something they often come to me. In fact, they call me the googling queen because I am generally able to find an answer quickly. I have a gift for teaching people things. I also love helping students get on the right path as this is my life’s vocation and my passion.

Can you think of mentors or educators you have had along the way that shaped your journey?

I had two amazing history teachers in high school. They were beautiful individuals who cared about me as a student and a person who was still growing and evolving. When I was in college, my academic advisor for my freshman year was very helpful in helping me travel the path. My freshman year was quite difficult because I was still trying to recover from the pandemic and then felt quite unsettled while also dealing with familial health issues. Katlyn, my advisor, made me feel seen and heard as an engineering student and helped me transfer from engineering to The Dietrich School of Education.

Currently I am a teacher for the FAME Academy. This has provided me with a community of Black educators who have the same passion that I do and remind me daily that you have to be 100% in this field in order to survive. Black female educators are underrepresented everywhere. In this particular program, most of my mentors have retired from the classroom and they have moved into helping other people get into the classroom. The program is for rising 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th graders. Last summer when I was a fellow, It was half observation and half teaching. This summer, I will be the primary ELA teacher for 8th and 9th graders.

Growing up, I had mostly white females for teachers. I attended the Environmental Charter School for elementary school and then The Neighborhood Academy for high school. I did have one female Black teacher as my homeroom and cultural literacy teacher, and her name was Ms. King. I went to a predominately white school and there were around eight Black girls in my grade. This teacher looked after us and made sure that we had a community to lean on.

What inequalities do you see in the field of education?

One of the most glaring inequalities is the disparity of students of color versus teachers of color. We have diverse student populations but they are being primarily educated by a white women. The discipline gap by race is another one. Finally, standardized tests are our primary way of determining whether or not students are educated and this really tends to benefit middle-class (primarily white) communities.

It’s interesting to me that we don’t question the standards. Similarly, there is never a question of who makes the standards and why they are made. The standards dictate everything we as educators are supposed to do. Why are there certain expectations by grade? What is the higher goal for them having to do certain things by a certain date?

Why are you passionate about education?

Kids are our future. In the future, I would hope that the world becomes better than when we got it. It is up to the next generation to make this happen and teachers contribute to this as well.

Have there been any poignant moments along your journey thus far that you are able to share?

When I was teaching at FAME Academy this summer, there was a particular student not doing well academically. When she asked to take a retest, she immediately started crying. The teacher lacked empathy and sympathy for this particular student and seemed to care very little that she was upset. This was a situation where I knew I would have handled it much differently had this been my student.

There was another learning experience where I had to really think about my own biases. I was at a school where many of the students had severe behavior problems, and I initially was very taken aback by the way in which the teachers were handling the behavior problems. It seemed like they did not care. They did not confront the students at all, and I remember thinking in my head, if these were my students, I would be handling their behavior in a much different way. However, I later learned that the students would not have responded to the discipline I had in mind because many of them had experienced trauma, were from difficult home lives and really needed teachers to provide gentler feedback.

What are your ultimate hopes for the future?

I would like to work in a district where I am not going to have to fight for what I want to teach. I want my students to look back and have the students say she was the best teacher that I ever had. I want to be visited by my former students with a smile. My goal is to open myself up to learn from others and have other people learn from me. I want to ensure I stay connected with my community (where I may be). Finally, I hope to prevent burnout by making sure I balance school with outside hobbies as well as becoming more efficient in terms of lesson planning and preparation.