Kenya Jackson, National Fellowship, Cohort 3
State and City of Residence:
Los Angeles, CA
Job Description (grade level taught, position, title, etc.):
Chief Academic Officer
What brought you to work in education?
I have over fifteen years of experience teaching and leading in public and charter schools in New York City and Los Angeles. I am a Teach for America Alumna and a UNCF Mellon Fellow. I graduated from Dillard University with a BA in English and received a Masters of Science in Secondary Education from Pace University. My extensive work as a charter school principal in south Los Angeles is published in The Urban Challenge in Education: The Story of Charter School Successes in Los Angeles By Joseph Scollo, Dona Stevens, Ellen Pomella. Additionally, my work around personalized literacy, on- line learning and closing the belief gap are featured in Edutopia.org and Smartblogs.com.
Tell us about something that you have done in education that you feel has made or will make a big difference for your community?
I've implemented teacher symposiums to include relevant teacher selected and teacher-led trainings. The outcome is that so far we've had an 80 percent satisfaction rate with the quality and usefulness of sessions. We've had an amazing opportunity to spotlight best practices across 10 schools, foster collaboration amongst 230 staff members, and monitor the implementation/effectiveness of learning management systems and curriculum.
What’s your favorite part about being an Educator Voice Fellow?
I love the social activism and engagement in current educational policy that come from the fellowship members. It is diverse and inspiring. I'm always encouraged to stay informed and find ways to make an impact.
If you could change just one thing about our current education system, what would it be?
I would change teacher preparation programs to bridge the gap between current research on educational policy that impacts how schools define teacher effectiveness, focus on the application of instructional best practices from practitioners in varied school settings ,and place a greater emphasis on emotional intelligence, equity and communication skills (I'm sure this program exists, but I am interacting with a lot teachers who need a support in those areas).
What’s the best thing a student ever said to you?
"I am Harlem"- this quote stayed with me because I was teaching a unit on not becoming a product of your environment using two texts- “Manchild in the Promise Land” by Claude McKay and Malcolm X adapted by Walter Dean Myers. Initially, I approached the two text as cautionary tales of being influenced by one's environment as to encourage students to leave their communities to find success and her statement made me realize that although I was well intentioned, I wasn't honoring the complexity of her neighborhood.
What is your other favorite thing to do (besides education, or course!)?
I spend time with my husband and three boys.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
What is one book every educator must read?
Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paul Freire, Educating Esme by Esme Raji Codell, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Lead..and Others Don't by Jim Collins