Oakland, CA — An initiative established in 2008 between former Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums’ office and Oakland Unified School District to recruit, support and retain the most outstanding teachers who reflect the diversity of Oakland’s children has reached another great milestone.
On Saturday, May 31st, TTO will celebrate its fifth anniversary by recognizing six (6) instructors who have been there since inception of the program. The teachers who have completed their five-year commitment to TTO and the district will be honored are:
Dana Adkins (Math Intervention) – Montera Middle School
Claudette Center (Social Studies) – Claremont Middle School
Kia Clark (English) – Edna Brewer Middle School
Cicely Day (Fourth grade) – Place @ Prescott Elementary School
Precious James (Fifth grade) – Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School
Benjamin Jamie Knowles (English) – Edna Brewer Middle School
The reception will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. at First Unitarian Church, 685 14th St. in Oakland.
“TTO is excited to celebrate the first six Oakland residents who have completed five years teaching in the district,” TTO Manager Dr. Rachelle Rogers-Ard said. “We salute these teachers, many of whom plan to continue either in the classroom or as Instructional Coaches w/in OUSD.”
TTO Cohort #1:
Adkins, who has been at Montera Middle School since the start, taught sixth grade math and science during her first four years. The Oakland native went to Howard Elementary, King Estates Middle School and Skyline High before attending the University of California at Davis.
“I’ve loved math my whole life and I just want everyone else to understand the love,” Adkins said, explaining her choice to join TTO.
A self-described consummate reader of all genres, Center is an eighth grade history/social studies teacher at Claremont Middle School.
“I am passionate about equity for all, devoted to family and friends, lover of bicycling, skiing, scuba, gardening and sewing,” said the mother of four and grandmother of two.
The Oakland native attended Whittier, Frick, Fremont, the University of California at Berkeley, and Holy Names University. Prior to teaching, Center worked as a social worker for Alameda County’s CPS Crisis Intervention Unit, as a 21-year veteran officer with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department and as a Real Estate Broker.
Clark graduated from Loyola Marymount University (LMU) in 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and with a minor in African-American Studies and Studio Arts. In 2008, she received her Masters in Education from LMU. An Oakland student, Kia graduated from Holy Names high school.
“I began my career in OUSD in 2009 at Roots International Academy. For the last two years I have taught English at Edna Brewer Middle School,” Clark said. “I have a passion for teaching students the skills necessary to become global citizens.”
“I have been a teacher with OUSD for six years – one year as a substitute teacher and five years as teacher of record at PLACE @ Prescott Elementary,” Day said. “I was born and raised in Oakland and graduated from Castlemont High School.” In fact, Cicely was Director Rogers-Ard’s student at Castlemont!
The wife and mother of one son also graduated from Holy Names University with a Bachelor’s in Liberal Studies and Multiple Subject Credential.
“I am in my fifth year teaching Middle School ELA, and have served various roles at my school, including English Department Head, Family Head, IT Teacher Leader, Girls Basketball Coach, OEA Representative and CRT Trainer,” Knowles said of his experience.
The Oakland native graduated from Oakland Tech in 1996. He went on to receive a Bachelor’s from Eugene Lang College in New York City and a Masters from Teachers College at Columbia University in 2009 before returning to his hometown to begin a teaching career with TTO.
James began teaching in Oakland in 2009 at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary. Currently, she teaches a fifth grade class with a science, technology, engineering and science (STEM) concentration, works as the Data Coordinator for K-5 at King, serves on the school Leadership Team and is Math Teacher Leader. A graduate of Oakland Tech, James went on to earn her BA in Religious Studies and Math from the University of California at Riverside.
“I believe in teaching ‘by any means necessary’ and work to make sure all of my students’ academic, social and emotional needs are met and satisfied to their specific needs,” she said.
James is now working on a Secondary Credential in Mathematics and earning a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction, with concentrations in STEM and Mathematics.
Teach Tomorrow in Oakland
Program Manager Rogers-Ard is quick to explain TTO’s goal has been about retention, and not singularly focused on recruitment.
“Our focus on recruiting local candidates who reflect the diversity of Oakland’s children and who will make a commitment to teach in Oakland for at least five years has been key in the district,” she explained. “Providing reimbursements, monthly teacher-led professional development sessions, leadership sessions, and “Men in the Classroom” sessions is the product of years of research around what it takes to retain teachers, but more specifically, teachers of color who are often isolated in classrooms and schools where they might be de-segregating faculty. TTO has worked diligently on this retention tactic to ensure that our candidates create relationships with their students, deliver culturally responsive instruction and become role models for our children.
Dr. Ard continues, “While many question the notion of recruiting locally, we remain true to our original purpose: we want to create opportunities for local residents to teach our children. Recruiting locally allows community members to see and acknowledge their students at Target or Safeway, demonstrates to children that possibilities through education are endless, and renews the local economy. While we appreciate and will recommend those who come from a great distance to teach, our specific focus is on creating pathways for local residents to have jobs within Oakland’s school district.”
TTO teachers are committed to three key principles – ensuring that all students achieve at high levels, professional development and long-term employment within OUSD. For more information, visit TTO’s YouTube channel at http://bit.ly/1s03oGa or website at www.teachtomorrowinoakland.net.
Media Invited to attend the Teach Tomorrow in Oakland End-of-Year Reception.
When: 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, May 31
Where: First Unitarian Church, 685 14th Street, Oakland
Press RSVP: Contact LaNiece Jones, LAJones@LAJonesMedia.com or 510-568-5899