Revitalizing Oakland Education for Students
“… always believe in yourself, never stop learning and study your history.”Hope Settle
Did you grow up in Oakland? If not, what brought you to Oakland?
I grew up in Richmond, Virginia. The beauty of California, family and the need for a new and meaningful challenge brought me to Oakland.
What is your connection to Oakland Education? How would you describe your role in the community?
Currently, I am a 4/5 teacher at Berkley Maynard Academy. My role in the community is to help to inspire young people to find their own constructive path by realizing their inner strength and beauty.
What are your favorite aspects of your job?
Building relationships with the kids and watching them take ownership of their learning with vigor are the favorite aspects of my job.
Share one or two highlights from your career, in which you believe you made an impact.
One highlight is when I was asked to help start a First Lego League Robotics team at a Title 1 school where I was teaching in Texas. The girls and boys that joined were exposed to team building activities, programming and engineering design. They signed an agreement to keep their grades at a passing rate as well as upholding the values outlined in our behavior contract. As part of this team, not only did they win in two categories two years in a row, they became the super stars on campus. By the end of the school year the members of the team had a stronger desire to learn, moved with purpose and treated themselves and others with respect.
Another highlight for me is when the Galveston Ballet gave 15 of the elementary students a scholarship to not only to learn the art of ballet, but also to perform in their yearly production of The Nutcracker at the Galveston Opera House. I provided the students with background information on the history of ballet and how major athletic teams incorporate ballet as part as their strength training program. The strength training aspect of ballet resonated with one of my relatively quiet and reserved male students.
Although some of the boys laughed at the idea, by being in a safe learning environment he felt comfortable stepping out of his comfort zone and expressing an interest in an activity not traditionally an option for male students of color. He wrote the required essay, filled out the application and was accepted. Throughout the two months of after school and Saturday practice, there were transportation and scheduling issues. With all of those obstacles he never gave up. He enthusiastically learned his choreography. The day of the performance, he got there just in time to get dressed before his showcase. He entered the stage with his head held high as if everything were normal. He was amazing!
After that experience not only did he talk about how ballet increased his endurance and flexibility to improve his skills in soccer and football, he displayed a new sense of confidence in his schoolwork and his social interactions with his classmates. The Galveston Ballet Company offered him a scholarship to return the following year.
What from your background do you believe led you to do what you do now?
My mom was an amazing teacher. At the end of each school year, she taught summer school. Sometimes the assignment was in the inner city of Richmond, but sometimes it was in a rural county. I would go with here to assist in the classroom where I took note of her calm and loving demeanor with the kids. Regardless of race or socio-economic background, she treated all of the kids with the same level of respect and high expectations. Squabbles and frustrations in the classroom were not only quickly deescalated, they were handled in a way that they too became part of the learning process.
What do you love most about Oakland?
I love the diversity of the city. There are so many cultural activities to take advantage of, an abundance of multi-cultural restaurants and green spaces where I can explore with my dog, Barney.
What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time, I like to cook, explore the outdoors, take photographs, spend time with family, and read.
What motivates you?
I am motivated by a desire to expose children to a world they think is unattainable and to teach them the knowledge and skills they need to achieve their dreams and succeed in everything they put their heart into.
What is your best advice to young people?
My best advice to young people is to always believe in yourself, never stop learning and study your history.
If you were to reimagine public education in Oakland, what would that vision look like?
My vision of education everywhere is one where all children have equal access to a wealth of information via computers, books, guest speakers, science laboratories, and field trips. I would like to see Oakland offer students an incentive to graduate college with the promise to return to teach in their community for at least 3 years to increase a more diverse teaching staff.
60 Seconds with Hope Settle