Thrival Academy: Oakland

Johns Hopkins University: BA- Public Health Studies
Arcadia University: MEd- Secondary Science Education
Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health: MPH

I have been an educator and an explorer my entire professional life. From Philadelphia to DC to Baltimore, Peru to Bangladesh to Rwanda to Kenya, I’ve allowed my desire to learn through others’ perspectives and experiences to guide me, teach me humility, and help me grow. The humility in particular has taught me to see my role in the world as someone who can leverage my privilege, power, and skills in working toward equity through a dedication to public education.

My father is a teacher so I have always admired the work of education and seen it as an effort that is worthy and important – and difficult! I started teaching in Philadelphia and my first year there taught me the critical lesson that my well-meaning idealism was not sufficient and in may ways was deeply unfair because it didn’t seek to truly understand the experiences of my students. I assumed I knew what their struggles were and therefore knew solutions. However, what I learned quickly from my students was that if I wanted to make any sort of impact I needed to listen openly and seek to understand my own biases. Following my teaching experience in Philadelphia, I moved abroad to work in Bangladesh. Here, the same lessons and values followed me: to listen openly, to leave assumptions behind, to acknowledge my biases, and to shift perspectives with empathy and care. Since then, throughout my professional life I have alternated between working in schools here in the US and pursuing my own curiosity and exploration to work abroad. Thrival World Academies is the merger of these two passions and their connected set of values and beliefs.

Thrival was founded on the belief that global education is central to what it means to be an educated person in the 21st century, and that it needs to be accessible to all students, regardless of race or socioeconomic background. This school model is radically new and is truly the product of partnerships and collaboration. Without all of the stakeholders – like Educate78 – that have supported this effort it would not be possible to have launched our first pilot year here in partnership with OUSD. Today, we have our first cohort of global scholars studying abroad in Thailand and we continue to learn and refine our school every day.

The students of Oakland and their families inspire me to push forward, work hard, be humble, and always seek to improve. My students remind me to be hopeful on a daily basis. I see in them future leaders––at the local, national, and global levels. In the midst of the fear, hate, and misunderstanding that has been amplified recently, my global scholars at Thrival remind me that there exists tremendous hope and power in the next generation.