By Kyle Hietala
DCPS Office: Office of Instructional Practice, LEAP Innovation and Design Team
Education: Brown University
Program of Study/Major: Education and History of Education
Hometown: Washington, D.C.
This summer, Ruby is helping DCPS to improve its professional development and teacher training curricula, especially the recent LEAP program that aims to help teachers improve their craft through collaboration, extensive professional feedback, and customized support. She is reviewing current LEAP modules to make sure they are consistent with the best practices of teaching as articulated by the District’s Office of Teaching and Learning, or in other words, she’s making sure that the District’s PD teaches teachers the right stuff (don’t worry, she’s found that it does.) Ruby is also attending intensive on-site teacher training sessions to see how the work done in Central Office translates to on-the-ground professional development.
Ruby’s interest in education springs from her scholarship and previous experience teaching with Breakthrough Providence and Breakthrough New York, two intensive teacher-preparation programs that work with high-achieving, under-served students. As a teacher in New York and Rhode Island, Ruby taught a civics education program to middle schoolers, a task that was “hard to do in the wake of the election of Donald Trump,” Ruby observed.
That’s because many of her students feared the changes that might come during his Presidency, especially students who were, “scared about whether their parents would be able to stay” in the country. Ruby focused on showing her students that democracy is vertical, and that even if federal politics are problematic, a lot of change can be effected at the local level. “This was about providing them with a way to stay hopeful,” she noted. “My students felt excited that they could make change in their communities, even as middle schoolers,” she concluded.
Ruby is deeply concerned about issues of equity in education, thanks in large part to her studies of the history of education. “One of the first things you learn,” she said, “is that education was supposed to provide all students with an equal and fair education.” But that promise, Ruby observed, “excluded women and people of color, who weren’t even in the mix.” To her, the question is, “how do we undo what’s been done?”
“I feel a little jaded because we have to change so many things about the system,” she offered candidly. “Sometimes I feel cynical,” she confessed. But that’s not stopping her, and she hopes to take on an urban teaching residency after college. “Being the best teacher I can be, and being as aware of a person I can be,” is what I can do, she said.