Jovanda Warren (TFA Houston ‘09) believes that a big part of her role in fighting educational inequity is as a classroom teacher. But through LEE programming like the Community Organizing Fellowship and the Policy and Advocacy Summer Fellowship, she has gained skills that help her engage with the community outside of her classroom.
Explain what led you to care deeply about educational equity. What personal values, experiences or beliefs inform this?
Throughout my life, I have had the good fortune of having great teachers that opened the doors to opportunity for me. Because of those teachers, I am the successful person I am today.
However, when I truly reflected on those teachers, I realized that although I was helped, the majority of my classmates were left behind. This realization lit a fire in me to be a teacher like those I had, but to be that for all students. Since then I have spent my career striving to ensure educational equity for each student that crosses my path.
How has LEE helped you in your mission to end educational inequity?
The biggest way that LEE has supported me in my mission to end educational inequity is through my work with the DC Education Coalition for Change (DECC). Through working with DECC, I have been able to connect with parents, teachers and community members who all share the same passion as myself. Additionally, through organizing, we have been able to get concrete wins for our students that will have a real impact.
Tell us about your current role. What’s a typical day like? What is the impact you’re having on educational equity?
In my current role, I am a classroom teacher. A typical day for me looks like working to shape young minds while being open to learning and changing myself. Additionally, I work to end educational inequity by venturing outside of my classroom walls and becoming politically active. I believe that my political activities and the work that I do with students makes a huge impact on educational inequity.
What is your vision for ending educational inequity in the U.S.?
My vision for ending educational inequity is to involve the individuals who are directly affected by it in the decision-making process. This means that parents, teachers and school leaders should have a seat at the decision-making table instead of being in a system where important decisions are handed down to them. Once these stakeholders are informed and empowered, we will be able to see changes that greatly benefit our students.
What do you see as your role in achieving this vision?
My role in achieving the aforementioned vision is to work to connect with as many educators and parents as possible. Once we are connected, it is imperative to listen to the stories, dreams and wants for our children and students.
From there we can work together to implement the changes that need to happen for the future betterment of our children. Professionally, I am working towards school administration to ensure that the schools I work with are employing restorative justice and positive behavior systems to better serve our students.