DC has always been home, as my family has been rooted here since the 1960s, though I was not born here.
My paternal grandmother and great aunt fled Detroit, MI following the 1967 riots, my grandmother relocating to Chicago, Il and my great aunt settling here in DC, first moving to 1418 10th Street NW and later to 1111 Massachusetts Ave NW. Members of my family were born and raised in DC, growing up right in Ward 5's North Michigan Park at 4407 6th Place NE. We have received so much from this city we all love and have spent our lives giving back to it in various ways: serving in the military, as longtime ANCs, as representative for SEIU, and I have been embedded in our school community, supporting teachers and coaching DCPS and charter school principals, fighting for education equity for our most underserved students.
I am running for the DC State Board of Education to continue the work I've been doing for the past 10 years as an educator, to ensure all DC students have the opportunity to pursue the career and school of their choice.
My story starts from the union of my parents, who were high school sweethearts from the South Side of Chicago. They married young, and from their union my two brothers and I were born. Being the youngest, I benefited from my parents' established professional and social lives in a way my oldest brother didn't, or couldn't, as he was born when they were merely 18 years old. I was afforded the opportunity to attend some of the best schools from a young age, whereas my oldest brother was relegated to the nearby failing neighborhood school because of zoning rules.
As I matriculated on to a magnet high school and ultimately Northwestern University, where I earned a Bachelor of Science in Speech and Language Pathology, my brother attended one of our city's vocational high schools and was later denied admission to his "dream school" for college.
My oldest brother -- same parents, same general upbringing, same innate ability as me-- did not gain admission to or graduate from the college of his choice, and has been unable to pursue his professional dreams. Instead he has spent the better part of the last 20 years holding minimum wage jobs, working 12+ hours a day just to make ends meet.
I have committed my life to fighting against educational inequity and improving schools serving underserved areas because my brother and countless students in schools I visit daily serve as a reminder that a poor education can drastically diminish the opportunity one would otherwise have to pursue the college and career of their choice. This work is real for me.
While I stand ready to help change outcomes and the story often told about DC's students, the narrative of underachievement that has unfairly followed some of our students, namely black and brown children, is not unique to D.C. As a Teach For America corp member and award-winning 7th grade math teacher in New Orleans, LA, post-Katrina, I saw the same narrative play out. Despite the many naysayers that doubted my students, they showed signifiant gains year after year because of my focus on improving my practice as their teacher, structures in our school, and collaboration between my class, our school, and their families.
After the classroom, I pursued and earned my Masters in Education Leadership and Politics from Columbia University, Teachers College, and have since served as senior director of school support with The Achievement Network, which helps schools in D.C. boost student learning through an integrated system of tools, training, and support. In addition to my work with the Achievement Network, I founded and serve as principal consultant with Accelerate Educational Consulting, which supports schools, districts, educational organizations, and state agencies across the country in improving instruction and student learning.
Sadly, my middle brother suddenly passed away in June 2016, which caused me to expand my vision for how I could personally and professionally help others. In February 2017 to honor my brother's legacy, I founded Global Millennials for Progress, a non-profit aimed at mobilizing millennials around the world to build sustainable solutions to global issues related to education, environment, health, human rights, and poverty. In Global Millennials for Progress' inaugural year, we built an orphanage in Cape Town, South Africa, supported the expansion of clinics in some of the poorest areas of Haiti, and awarded two $1,000 scholarships to current and rising college students (one of whom attended McKinley Tech High School here in DC). Through my work with Global Millennials for Progress and in support of schools throughout D.C., I have seen firsthand the ways opportunity has been unequally distributed and have proudly committed to being part of the solution.
As a third-generation educator, award-winning teacher with 10 years of educational experience, business owner, and founder of Global Millennials for Progress, I stand uniquely ready to serve Ward 5 to improve our schools. Ward 5 deserves trusted leadership and a representative on the State Board of Education that is deeply invested in improving the life outcomes of our students, especially those who have been most underserved.