Spotlight on Principal Tameka Wilson of Thurgood Marshall Leadership Academy

| December 2, 2015
Jeanie Summerville

Jeanie Summerville

By Jeanie Summerville

What’s up, babies?

I hope, all of you have a happy Thanksgiving and that you can feel the love of GOD and Jesus as you gather together to celebrate and feast that day and may that genuine love linger within your hearts for the rest of your lives.  On that note, it pleases me to bring to you this week’s spotlight because my heart was filled with joy during the interview due to the enthusiasm and love for children that she has.  But before we bring her to you, we want to remind you that, Fort Wayne Urban League has established the Thurgood Marshall Leadership Academy to bring academic excellence to the heart of our city of our community.  This free public charter school is open to all students and managed by American Quality Schools, an organization with an outstanding track record for achieving individual success.  So now, all we’d like for you to do is just sit back, relax and enjoy as you meet Tameka:

Principal Tameka Washington

Principal Tameka Washington

“Hello, Frost Illustrated readers.  My name is Tameka Wilson and I’ve been the principal at Thurgood Marshall Leadership Academy that’s located at 2310 Weisser Park Ave., in Fort Wayne, Ind., for three and a half years.

“I was raised in Sumter, South Carolina and relocated here in 2011 to attend and graduate from Ball State University.   My education includes undergrad with a degree in  Elementary Education from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina. I also received my master’s in Math from Winthrop, I did some training at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I received my master’s in Education Leadership and Administration from Ball State University and currently, I’m in the Doctorate Program for Math at Ball State.  

“My dream has always been, to teach teachers how to teach and that’s why, I attended Ball State for the education leadership and administration program.  My goal, after I completed that education, was to go back to my kids in South Carolina because I did a release at my job to go back to school and get my degree.  Then I was called to Fort Wayne and I didn’t even know where Fort Wayne, Ind., was but I know I was called here for a reason.  I received the job at this school as team leader to teach teachers how to teach and to, give students remedial assistant that needed help in math or reading.  After that, some transition took place and I was the interim principal and I liked it because I was still able to help the teachers out because I was always in the classroom with the kids.  I’ll always be a teacher at heart and teach teachers how to teach and with this position, I’m able to get all of it in one.  A small amount of time went by and they actually hired me for the position of principal and I’ve been here ever since and I love on the kids that I have.  

“On teaching teachers how to teach:  At the undergrad university I attended, we participated in method courses and that was a new initiative for the State of South Carolina.  In those courses, my math professors goal was to teach us how to teach math and she inspired me so that became my goal because I’d like to teach teachers how to teach reading and math.  I wanted to be able to go into one point districts, go into schools and teach teachers how to teach because I think a lot of times, teachers that struggle are afraid to talk with their principals about it since principals are always evaluating them but here, we have a different type of environment because I’m always in the classroom and the teachers know they can trust me and share what they’re struggling with.

“I’m always teaching and the kids enjoy that because they get to see the principal, the principal knows them, I get to know the parents, I get to know the teachers and, so it kind of work overall because I’m not someone that just sits in the office.  I enjoy it and it’s all about bringing the passion because we do have a large amount of first and second year teachers and so, I know that just coming in they’re already overwhelmed.  Because teachers want to figure out how to decorate their class, who’s going to be their kids, try to figure out how they’re going to get their discipline together, worrying about how they’re going to teach their lesson and what they need.  But here, they don’t have those overwhelming situations because once the teachers come, they have that support from me and they’re excited about it.

“The difference between this charter school versus other type of schools are, we’re smaller and were more of a family here.  I’ve worked in larger school districts and a lot of times, you don’t get to know everybody but here, we have kindergarten through eighth grade and our middle school kids know all of our kindergarteners and our kindergarteners  know all of them.  We start our day off with a morning meeting and we talk about our announcements, we say our school pledge, the teachers are able to have students display different things they learned in the classrooms and Friday’s, we have Fit Friday and we exercise together the Michelle Obama Initiative.  So, we do things together as a group and then we say, ‘Make it a great day Mavericks,’ and everybody is dismissed to their classrooms.  It’s a lot easier to do this in a smaller setting and also, with us being smaller the students still have the same resources, technology, textbooks and curriculum. But, we’re able to give the kids more one on one attention, so these kids won’t fall through the cracks.

“These kids love it here because when they were in larger schools, some may have been at the bottom but now they have the opportunity to actually be at the top and be recognized for something they’re strong at and they enjoy that.  We reward all of our kids since everybody is special at something and we tell the kids, you may not be at the top academically but you have something and you were given that for a reason, so you have to work on developing that because it’s needed.  And, if we don’t have what you bring, then we’ll be short of something, so we need every part of what you have in order for our family to function.  It may be a great smile and if you don’t walk in with that great smile today then our family misses that.  We have a music program and the kids have a chance to write their own songs, poems and lyrics and we need that, so we tell them, they have something that we all need so we need everybody.    

“In all situations, and especially with Thurgood Marshall and the education system, we have to learn how to build relationships with the kids especially within Fort Wayne because since I’ve been here, I see that we have a transient population, so a lot of the families are moving a lot.  So, I think we have to build relationships with the kids so they’ll have stability because at the end of the day, we want to make sure that we’re teaching the standards.  And, of course, we want to make sure they have high scores in I-STEP but you have to make sure you’re touching the kids and you’re reaching them.  That’s something we do here but I don’t see that in some of the other schools.  Here, we know our kids are somebody, they’re not just dollars and we love all of our kids, we are a family at Thurgood Marshall.  

“When I moved to Fort Wayne, I moved here by myself.  I have no family here so they are my family and my kids.  And, when people ask, how many kids do I have,  I say, I have 130 kids these are my kids and I love them and I make sure they get everything they need.   Now I’d like to encourage and inspire the youth generation by saying, you have to be yourselves.  Because I think that’s so hard in today’s world since everyone is trying to fit this norm or what they think is average.  But you must be yourselves and you have to figure out, what you’re good at and continue to strive for that in order to be successful.  The world is definitely changing and you have to be patient and understand that you have to live in the moment  And, I think that’s very hard because everyone wants to grow up to see but you can’t rush it, live in the moment.”

Now in closing I say, fantastic job, Tameka, and I’m so happy that you got that phone call because Fort Wayne needed somebody with your love and understanding for our children in and out of the classroom.  I’m so proud of you and what you bring to the table.  So until next week, you’ve been Up Close with Jeanie.  Bye, bye, babies.

P.S.  If you would like The Spotlight shined upon you or someone you know, all in the name of love, just send me an e-mail to upclosewithjeanie@yahoo. com.  I’d love to hear from you.

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Category: Community, Education, Local, People

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