Who was your most influential teacher or school leader? Why?
It would have to be my grandmother, Mordessa Corbin. She was a high school mathematics teacher, curriculum specialist, textbook contributor, and my absolute best friend. She demanded excellence. It was her standard. I know I would not have the foundation I had personally or professionally without her.
What continues to inspire you to remain in this work?
Honestly, it is the teachers and our children. They are so eager to learn, to truly liberate themselves and our school family. School leadership is difficult, we have to name that. Seeing them everyday and the faith they have in what we do at Helix Legal Academy, and the commitment to our city and each other fuels me. I feel really fortunate to be a part of this family every single day, even the hard ones.
What is your advice for a new teacher or parent experiencing the challenges due to the pandemic?
Give yourself GRACE. We are operating in the strangest of times, and I know that's cliche' but it is so true. It would be unwise to attempt to carry on school as usual. We have to be cognizant of our mental health, that of our students and families, and truly implement practices that can help us continue to cope. Give yourself a pat on the back for how you have managed to continue to press forward. Use your resources (free learning apps, tutoring, counseling) and take breaks.
What do you want people to know about your students, families, and your school?
Schools are training grounds. They are places where we build people, how they participate in their communities, how they budget and set goals, how they participate in change and lead their families. I am excited about the future of Baton Rouge because of the teachers and students at Helix Legal Academy. They are innovative and HEART working, as well as extremely smart and civic-minded. I tell people all the time, we honestly have the absolute best of the best at HLA. "We Set the Bar" is more than a catchy phrase, it embodies who we are.
How are you supporting your teachers through difficulties caused by the Pandemic?
We are treating teachers like HUMANS, not robots. They are hurting, experiencing grief, stretching money, patience and time. We engage in staff outings, share special snacks and Starbucks during the week, and offer counseling if needed. Teachers know our door is always open and they can come to us to action plan, vent, or just chat. Additionally, we give them sacred time every Friday to engage in meaningful professional development and planning. We try to make sure every single moment counts and value their time and efforts.
What makes me hopeful about the future?
I am looking forward to a movement toward truly caring about the teacher and the child, not just test scores and accolades. Although I value all those things, I am in the business of making an authentic, impactful difference. In my eyes, everything that the outside world may value is secondary. If we focus on nurturing people of all backgrounds and serving as a support to them and their families, the evidence of that care through scores/awards, etc. will naturally follow. My hope is that I am always surrounded by school leaders, teachers, families, community partners, and students whose focus aligns with that philosophy.