By: Nicholas Kram Mendelsohn
Last week I sat down to chat with Nancy Washington, the new program manager of the Urban Education Leadership Internship Program (UELIP), to discuss her career and her hopes for the direction of the UELIP program. Ms. Washington attended the University of Massachusetts Boston (UMass) where she studied psychology. While at UMass, Ms. Washington participated in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, which inspired her desire to improve the lives of children. In her words, “I came to school with no idea what I wanted to do, but discovered a real appreciation of psychology and desire to help young people. After college, I continued my education by pursing a Master’s in Special Education and Teaching from Queen’s College in New York.”
Following school, Ms. Washington knew that she wanted to teach, so she took her talents to the New York City public school system and taught special education. She taught high school and middle school students for five years before deciding that she could be a more effective agent of change in an administrative role. Following this decision, she moved to Washington D.C., and began working with Urban Alliance, an organization that “empowers under-resourced youth to aspire, work, and succeed.”
Ms. Washington described this position as an amazing experience, and noted that she felt “joy…watching the students of the Urban Alliance program develop incredible professional skills before even stepping foot in college.” She added, “I actually see some of my former Urban Alliance interns passing our office every day on their way to their internships, and love to see them continuing in their professional development.” Ms. Washington then became the Director of Alumni Services for Urban Alliance, where she worked hard to increase the number of scholarships and grants accessible to Urban Alliance alumni participants.
She recently joined DCPS as the School District Internship Coordinator. “This has been a great experience, and it’s only been a few weeks,” Ms. Washington said. When asked about what she enjoyed about the 2016 UELIP Summer Cohort, Ms. Washington said, “I just love seeing how professional you all are. You all hold yourselves with such poise, and are doing such exciting important work.” In response to how she would like to see the UELIP program develop in the future, Ms. Washington responded, “I hope to see some resources and initiatives created to increase the demographic pool of young people passionate about education to have access to this unique and important internship experience”
Ms. Washington’s dedication to improving the UELIP program was clear throughout the interview, with Ms. Washington frequently taking time to ask questions about how I was personally enjoying the UELIP program and what I would want to see improved. “I want to hear from you all,” she said. “It’s important for me to have as many conversations with UELIPs as possible, because you all have the best understanding of what works and what can be improved in the program.” Ms. Washington’s passion for improving the lives of children was evident throughout, and I was honored to have the chance to chat with her. We are all happy to welcome Ms. Washington to DCPS, and cannot wait to see the direction the UELIP experience takes under her stewardship.