Miss Caroline James (2017)
In undergraduate, I was profiled by CNN; this interview gave me the courage to speak with conviction about my identity and how it relates to my work. I am a foster youth. I am a black woman. I am first-generation. I come to Cambridge not only as an educator but as an activist focused on improving life outcomes for marginalized youth. In New Orleans, LA, I had the privilege to teach. I learned that leading requires learning from those whom you lead. My principal, my students and the community I served, all shaped my perception of education. Together, we developed academic curriculums that reflected student culture, interests and identity. Furthermore, we created an incredible approach to student leadership development. As a result, I won Sue Lehmann, a national teaching award. After leaving the classroom, I moved into teacher leadership development. Through Teach For America, I had the privilege to partner with and manage almost 60 educators. At Cambridge, I will explore research-based methods to democratize education. I believe that schools that function more democratically are better apt to meet the needs and desires of marginalized youth. Such democracy could further translate into improved student behavior, socio-emotional development, and academic outcomes. Words cannot explain how honored I am to join the Gates Cambridge community of passionate learners and ethical leaders.