Millennial leaders are thriving in Education around Metro Atlanta proving that the Black and Brown communities are very much connected to and involved in school choice. It’s refreshing to see young, Black educators in positions of leadership and influence helping change the course of our children’s learning.
Davion Lewis is the incoming Executive Director at Latin College Prep Charter School in East Point Fulton County, Georgia not too far outside of the Atlanta city limits. He recently served as the Deputy Director of Partnerships at New Classrooms Innovation Partners where he managed its program implementation across eight school districts, in seven different cities. Mr. Lewis has over a decade of experience working in education, and youth and community development, and has done so with private, non-profit, and governmental agencies. He’s been a teacher, coach, school administrator and consultant with organizations such as the New York City Department of Education, Achievement First Schools and KIPP Schools. He is the founder and principal consultant at Lewis Consulting Services, which provides charter schools and other non-profits agencies with a variety of design, implementation, technical assistance and other support services. A native of Jamaica, Mr. Lewis earned his Bachelor of Arts degree form Bethune-Cookman University, and his Master of Business Administration degree from Clayton State University.
Let’s view the educational realm through his lenses through various areas highlighted in this piece.
Vision for LCP
As a first generation student of color, I personally understand the importance that having access to high quality education plays in creating opportunities for social mobility, economic freedom, and personal and professional success. Going into the 2017-18 school year, I will be taking an exhaustive look at all of the key areas and functions of our school. We will keep and improve upon the things that are working effectively. We will quickly and aggressively remedy those things that are not working so effectively. This coming school year will be a challenging one, and that is okay, because I also believe that it will be a rewarding and game-changing year that will ultimately change the trajectory of our school in a very positive way.
Engaging Families in the Academic Process
Having families that are well informed, active and super engaged are non-negotiable for me. Our families are our partners in educating our students. Prior to my arrival, our school had a part-time parent liaison. However, going into next year, I’ve made that a full-time role, and have increased its job scope and functions. Additionally, I’ve set a very robust and clear vision for this role and created an operating budget for the occupant of this role so that she will have the resources needed to execute that vision. In the staff selection process, we included parents through surveys, interviews, etc. I’ve engaged parents in serving on a number of school committees including, our Board’s Academic Committee and Governance Committee, and I have also hosted a number of parent round-tables including on the weekends. These were things that did not exist prior to my arrival, and are all things that I plan to continue and even build upon throughout the 2017-18 school year.
Through numerous conversations with staff, parents, and even our students I’ve identified as our current primary areas of improvement; Accountability, Communication, and Professional Development. These are the areas in which we will dedicate a great deal of time on in order to improve our school. When talking about turnaround, experts generally bucket such efforts into four distinct categories: Turnarounds, Restarts, Closures, and Transformations. I would say that we most likely fall into the Transformation category. Latin College Prep has a great deal of potential and I strongly believe that I’ve been putting together the right team and marshaling the needed resources in order to maximize that potential. Nonetheless, my thoughts on the use of best practices is that you have to use a combination of successful and/ or prevailing approaches that are out there. That said, these efforts don’t occur in a vacuum. It is important to start with a needs assessment, which must include engaging all of your major stakeholder groups. Secondly, it is important when considering best practices to look at places that are similar in nature and circumstances to your own, which will help give a better sense of how those practices would likely work in your environment or situation.
A Shared Success Story
As passionate as I am about closing that opportunity gap, I am even more concerned about the state of our young men of color. This concern has been a particular focus area throughout my career, and my efforts towards the education and uplift of our male students of color have been the work that I am the proudest of thus far. Getting our traditionally marginalized black and browns boys to be invested in and
take ownership of their educational goals and future is how we lift communities out of poverty and end the classroom to prison pipeline. It is how we change the tide of an entire generation and truly demonstrate the value and contribution of their lives. With that, I have many success stories of boys who I’ve worked with who have since gone off to be the first male in their immediately family to not join a gang, or be the first in their family to go to and graduate from college. Today many of those very same young men who now call me “Uncle” or “Uncle Lewis” still keep in touch. They call and text me for advice, recommendations for jobs or programs, to reminisce or update me on what’s going on with them, and even on my birthday and Father’s Day. Seeing these boys grow into such promising young men has been the single greatest success story that I’ve experienced as an educator.
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.