Santa Fe Community School

Executive Director at Arts for Oakland Kids (AOK)
BA- Performing Arts
Masters in Education
Secondary Single Subject Teaching Credentials- English and Social Science

My ventures into education have largely been influenced by my mom’s 40+ year career as a nurse. I always knew the real impact she was making went beyond treating patients. She built community amongst fellow nurses, and she challenged leadership to ensure her nursing staff had the support they needed. Like nursing, teaching isn’t a glamorous job, but when it’s done right, it means the world to those you are serving. I love being involved in education because of the direct impact and because I get to lead through helping.

Before I went into arts administration, I had a brief stint as an 8th grade Humanities teacher at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkeley. An experience I’ll never forget was watching my colleague, Mya Thorniley, teach a unit on nonviolent resistance. Using historical footage from the Civil Rights era, Mya helped students understand the idea that if you’re only trying to prove who is more powerful, then yes, you hit back, and your enemies stay your enemies. But if what you’re really trying to do is change minds, then you not only have to expose your enemies’ weaknesses, but also give them the capacity to change.

I think about this lesson constantly. I am reminded of its power, and am driven by its core message. I see education as the opportunity to make change through both big powerful movements and small powerful moments. We have a lot of people trying to make public education in Oakland work better. Not everyone agrees, and it’s a messy process for sure, but there’s no shortage of good intentions, and people are driven by a community spirit.

It is this community spirit that we’ve built at Santa Fe that I’m most proud of. Everyone is positive, hopeful, and compassionate––and they motivate me to keep this movement going. We’ve made a difference in people’s’ lives by giving them hope in the future, and by building bridges between groups within our community. We’re creating a platform on which people are coming together and pushing for common goals.