Thomas Kelly College Prep
I am a biracial woman. My first experience with racism was at the age of 5. Ever since then, race has been a lens in which I have viewed my life. I have always considered how it has impacted how I navigate the world and the system of schooling. I became a teacher in 2007 because I wanted to create experiences for students in which they felt empowered and prepared for the world. After teaching, I joined the New Leaders' Aspiring Principals Program in 2015. This program put equity at the forefront when rethinking education. I know that for a student to truly be invested in their learning, they have to be seen as a full human. I learned how to transform systems to ensure that the school supports students' learning and social-emotional well being.
Why I choose to engage in equity work
As a mother, an aunt, and a teacher, I have helped children navigate their feelings of worth in education. As an administrator of color, students often share their experiences of racism in schools with me. They feel as though they are powerless; they feel that discrimination is the norm and something they have to manage. As a school leader, it is essential for me to make space for all adults and students to talk about race, our bias, and give people the tools to process their beliefs and trauma, so they can authentically engage with each other. All adults and students should feel safe and valued in school. It is my job to help create this space.
My equity challenge and how I work on it
Currently, I have two equity challenges.
The first is to increase the number of Latino males and African American students taking AP classes. Our school is partnered with Equal Opportunity Schools to support this work. This year we had our first AP RUSH Week. Student groups were identified and actively recruited through a week of activities to provide more knowledge and dispel some myths about the program. Our goal is to ensure all students feel welcomed to take AP classes.
The second goal is to begin our conversations around race and equity in our building. I want to create spaces for our adults, students, and community to process what is happening in our world, and their feelings about it. I want our stakeholders to share what they need from us as an administration, so we can support our students and families.
What sustains me when equity work stalls, how do I stay motivated when the work gets hard, and how do I push myself and others to advance equity
To me, this is the work. Students' grades, test scores, and school experiences will not improve until all students feel safe and valued in our schools. When the work gets hard, I talk to students. I talk to them about their classes. I talk to them about their stories. Each student's story keeps me motivated. I also learn about our teachers' stories and their motivations. When I am able to help a student or teacher navigate a troubling situation or help them feel empowered, I know I am doing the right work. I push myself to listen, to constantly seek feedback, and to lift voices that are not being heard.