Passions at Ursinus Launch into Multidimensional Career Path
I grew up with a passion for art, specifically acting and creative writing. At Ursinus, I studied American Studies with a focus on sociology and minored in theatre under the advisement of Professor Domenick Scudera. Since then, I have published two short pieces, “Long Lost is Closer Than You Think” and “Zoelia”. I am currently working on my next piece, a children’s book, All Dog-Go to Heaven and a short film, “Neighbors.”
I originally came to Ursinus with the passion for art and the drive to enter the legal profession. By time I was a junior, I had successfully and consistently participated in America Reads and off-campus tutoring. I had to invest in the newfound talent that I had for guiding young minds. At Ursinus, I was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated. My fraternity brother told me about a fellowship that he had participated in over the summer called Uncommon Schools’ Summer Teaching Fellowship. This opportunity aimed to recruit and hire more Black teachers into Black classrooms. I learned so much over the course of those few weeks from my teacher and mentor, Naama Wrightman, that I made myself available to be hired immediately after graduation. I had made up my mind that I was going into education!
My first choice was Teach For America. I wanted to go out West and impact students in a significant way. My second choice would be teaching at the school at which I did the fellowship, Leadership Prep Bed Stuy. I was rejected by both. I remember sitting in a Cuban restaurant in downtown Brooklyn with a good friend of mine, awaiting my acceptance email from TFA. It was about 3:14 p.m. when I got a notification saying that I had not been selected. I was devastated.
I wanted badly to break into teaching, but no one had given me an opportunity. Nervous about my next step post-grad, I sat in limbo, wondering if education was the field for me still. Maybe I wasn’t good enough or not cut out to be in the field.
I got a phone call from an unrecognized number a few weeks after. It was from Emily Hoefling, a principal who was founding a brand new school that recruited me after quietly observing me from afar during my fellowship! By August after graduation, I was a founding teacher at Uncommon’s Leadership Prep Canarsie. I worked there for three years building my foundational skills before taking an offer to be a founding math specialist at the world-renowned school, The Equity Project. This was a school where leadership made a minimum $125,000 investment in master teachers. I was surrounded by a diverse and talented team and eventually was promoted to director of our math instruction department and curriculum lead. I worked in collaboration with our other school leaders to provide equitable and differentiated education to all students. I was inspired by one of my colleagues to push to expand my impact and in June 2018, I founded the Groome Consulting Group, an educational consulting firm and tutoring service that aims to build and provide sustainable systems for at-risk learners.
I wanted to have more ownership and influence in how I coached teachers and school leaders as well as to provide alternative learning environments for students, specifically Black boys, who are consistently over diagnosed with ADD and ADHD because they are in an outdated classroom setting. I wanted to push the ethos of innovation within the early education space, because we simply are not adapting fast enough to amplify our impact on students and communities. One of my first projects was designing a home-schooling curriculum for a young boy who had a talent to build things. He was a hands-on learner that needed a curriculum that was designed around his strengths. I designed a project-based learning curriculum in which the student would take comprehensive lessons that would build his background knowledge to a level where he could independently own and execute a unit project related to the theme or concepts of the unit. When I saw the gratefulness in the eyes of his father after we had tailored an educational experience to the strengths of his son, I knew how rewarding my work could really be.
One of my next projects involved creating a yearlong DEIA (diversity, equity, and inclusion) scope and sequence for a school I was contracted by. I hired a team of experts to surround me in the work as we delivered groundbreaking workshops and challenging sessions for school leaders. We have implemented culturally responsive teaching, trauma informed pedagogy, equitable planning and decision making as well as many other frameworks in over a dozen schools in the tri-state! We fix schools and we drive equity! This year our goal is to expand our outreach beyond the tri-state area and impact schools in the Midwest, South, and West Coast! If we can impact one school in each of those areas, we already won!
Outside of my passion and commitment to GroomeGroup, I hold a role as an assistant principal at EBACS Charter School in Brooklyn and as an equity advisor to Ascend Charter Network. I also own an e-commerce business and started my own New York Football Giants Podcast, “Talking Blue.”I still enjoy creative writing and filmmaking as major hobbies. Within five years, I aim to pursue a Ph.D. in education and documentary film, hoping to merge the two into a study of how we can provide voices to our misrepresented communities and amplify their needs in education, personal health, and wellness as well as personal finance. All-in-all, I’ve taken my passion from Ursinus including The Grizzly newspaper, Kappa Alpha Psi, tutoring and America Reads and intertwined them in my day-to-day life, goals, and achievements. Be on the lookout for my children’s book All Dog-Go to Heaven this summer!