Diversity benefits students. Research suggests that students of color who have at least one teacher of color have better academic outcomes, are suspended less often, and face higher expectations from their teachers. Students of color also benefit from seeing members of their own race or ethnicity as role models in positions of authority. Teachers of color tend to provide more culturally relevant teaching and better understand the situations that students of color may face. Studies also show that white students show improved problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity when they have teachers with diverse backgrounds.
In honor of Black History Month, KIPP Texas will highlight black professionals and paraprofessionals in all four regions who are educating and inspiring our students.
Meet Khadijah Evans, M.Ed. She’s a 4th Grade Writing Teacher & Grade Level Chair at KIPP Pleasant Grove Primary in Dallas, Texas.
How long have you worked at KIPP Pleasant Grove Primary ?
I’ve worked at KIPP for two years. I started in 2018 as a founding third grade teacher and this year I serve as a founding fourth grade teacher and Grade Level Chair. As a Grade Level Chair, I serve as the leader of my grade-level team. I am responsible for grade level decisions, and ensuring my team of teachers and scholars are successful academically and behaviourally.
Why did you choose to work at KIPP?
The reason I choose to work at KIPP is far greater than I may be able to explain. Let’s just say we chose each other. I remember reading articles about KIPP after taking an unexpected two-month break from teaching during my second year in the profession. I knew I wanted to teach somewhere where I could learn as well as make an impact. I decided to apply for KIPP; I applied for different jobs at KIPP in multiple states. After prayer, I asked God to allow me to receive the opportunity at KIPP that was for “ME.” I received a call from the founding principal of KIPP Pleasant Grove Primary, Mr. Dexter Chaney, and let’s just say the job was mine! I could tell from the vibe of the interview that I would learn and grow at KIPP Pleasant Grove Primary. I’ve grown a tremendous amount since I’ve been here and I can’t wait to share all of the things KIPP has taught me as I move forward in my educational career.
Why did you go into education as a professional pursuit?
Many years ago as an elementary student, one of my teachers told me to pursue anything that required me to be a leader. Well, in my mind I instantly thought “TEACHER!” Entering my classroom daily doesn’t feel like a job, it feels like what I’m supposed to be doing… even better, what I want to be doing. Learning content and curriculum provides me with an opportunity to grow as a person and an educator daily. Education definitely chose me, and I am honored to serve children daily.
Why is it important for students to see teachers of color in the classroom?
A diverse culture provides students the opportunity to see and learn from educators that not only look like them, but can relate to them. I can count on one hand the amount of teachers I had that were the epitome of my culture and background. The first classroom I had was full of African American scholars who performed at higher academic levels because they felt their teacher could simply “relate” to them as an individual. Although skin color doesn’t determine relatability, I am an advocate for teachers of color being in the classroom.
What do you aim to impart to your students?
“It is not light we need, but fire…not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.” Frederick Douglass. It is important for my students to see in me what I want to impart on them. It is my goal to teach them drive and passion; what you can’t do should not interfere with what you can. It is those who work hard and stand out who succeed. Success is when preparation meets opportunity. My students should know they are the boldest, fiercest, sharpest, and most prominent beings on this planet. I am imparting confidence to be whomever it is you are destined to be.
How do you celebrate diversity and culture in your classroom?
Many classrooms and schools are not as diverse as needed. It’s important for my students to be culturally aware, appreciate cultural differences, and overcome stereotypes. I am dedicated to teaching my scholars culture through reading and writing. I ensure that we celebrate different cultures monthly, and my school does well with incorporating culture. My first year at KIPP during Hispanic Heritage Month we received diversity through lessons, celebrations, and decor. It is necessary to learn about cultures other than your own. I am delighted to say my classroom represents different cultures, languages, ethnicities, physical abilities, backgrounds, and religions!
How do you view culture, heritage, and race as resources in education or in your personal journey as an educator?
During my personal journey as an educator I’ve learned to genuinely embrace my culture, heritage, and race. Although I’ve never been ashamed of what my culture represents, I didn’t display it as proudly as I do now. It is my goal daily to make sure scholars understand that being an African American female educator with multiple degrees is power. I ensure that all scholars of color are aware of the history behind Historical Black Colleges and Universities. HBCUs are just as respected as any other college/university, and they deserve recognition. Culture speaks through me, heritage lives in me, and race is displayed on me. My black is beautiful.
If you are interested in joining the KIPP Texas Public Schools Team & Family, please view our openings here.