6 Years in, Still Going Strong, on Leadership Path
Leathia Lipscomb (Metro Atlanta, ’11) is in her sixth year at her placement school, Brookview Elementary, and serving on the school’s leadership team, handling discipline infractions.
Leathia Lipscomb walked into Brookview Elementary School in 2011 and her passion and pursuit to achieve educational equity and excellence still goes strong.
“This is my sixth year,” Lipscomb enthusiastically states at her desk that she shares with two other members of the school’s leadership team, while speaking with The Impact Blog before her school day started.
Lipscomb, a Westampton, New Jersey native, moved to Atlanta and entered the corps in 2011, after graduating from The College of New Jersey with a degree in Early Childhood Education and Women-Gender Studies. Lipscomb, originally wanted to become a pediatrician, but knew teaching would be her calling after several experiences in high school, including watching an episode of Oprah that changed the trajectory of her career goals.
The episode, Lipscomb says, described the differences between schools with many resources, strategies and activities to impact student achievement, and schools that didn’t have the same opportunities.
“It really shocked me,” said Lipscomb.
It was the combination of experiences like that and reading the mission statement of Teach For America that made her apply to the corps.
“I said to myself: I need to be part of this. I need to at least have my foot in somewhere to try and help create change. I can’t just stand by and continue to let this happen around me,” stated Lipscomb.
With that mindset and context, Lipscomb entered Brookview as a Teach For America corps member and pre-k teacher, and has seen growth at her school and within herself since then.
Lipscomb taught Heaven Alexander in pre-k.
Alexander, currently a fourth grader, speaks highly of her experience in Lipscomb’s class.
“She treated me like I was her own kid,” said Alexander in a small voice.
Alexander, who wants to become an entrepreneur, says her motivation to succeed comes from the encouragement of Lipscomb.
“She made me believe that I can do anything that I want to do,” said Alexander. “She always helped me when I was in Pre-K, so I want to show her that I can do anything.”
Leathia is also excited about TFA’s partnership with the school for the Brookview Literacy Initiative, which focuses on schools serving as the unit of change to drive instructional excellence, embrace alumni innovation, target community support and advocacy, and facilitate program evaluation and accountability.
“I think that it is going to grow and become something truly amazing. I’m very excited about what this will become,” said Lipscomb, who says the partners involved with the Initiative have been supportive in the work to achieve excellence for students.
Leading Teachers to Success
For the 2016-2017 school year after exhibiting success in the classroom, Lipscomb got the opportunity from her principal to become a member of the school’s leadership team. She partners with other faculty to improve school culture and community through positive behavior interventions and supports (PBIS). Lipscomb oversees six teachers to decrease discipline infractions.
“It’s also to ensure students are learning more positive behavior choices, and that teachers are modeling those choices for students each day, and as a school, we are working towards a more positive atmosphere, ” said Lipscomb.
Lipscomb primarily uses data to drive action plans with teachers to reduce infractions.
“Throughout the year, we will work on specific areas where the teacher didn’t score as high in and we will work on getting them to the next level. And if they did score well in the baseline observation, we are just going to take them to that next level,” she says.
Her principal, Jovita Wallace, says Leathia is on a clear path to achieving success for her students and herself.
“Leathia is such a joy to have on my administrative team. She is very organized and technologically savvy which adds value to our overall school needs and growth as we shift in the roll-out of personalized learning,” said Wallace. “I look forward to helping Leathia grow professionally and become more comfortable in her new leadership role.”
Wallace adds that Lipscomb will have a direct impact on our school-wide discipline data, as the goal is to have a 25% decrease in office referrals and out of school suspensions.
In addition, Lipscomb also served as director of the 2016 Blast Off Summer Literacy Program, which gave her additional leadership and administration experience.
"It was an experience in a lot of different ways, with managing teachers and managing the students and that whole overarching piece that you don’t get as a teacher,” said Lipscomb. “I was able to take on some of the initiatives and make them my own essentially.”
Getting the Fuel to Lead from TFA
Lipscomb has also participated in TFA-Metro Atlanta’s alumni leadership fellowship, which aims to develop alumni through continuous coaching and feedback.
"Since her corps experience, Leathia has been a model of continuous learning and leadership development. One of the teachers in our first Pre-K cohort, she climbed the learning curve to work with our youngest learners quickly and to great success with her students,” said Erin Quackenbush, managing director of program continuum at TFA-Metro Atlanta, who leads the fellowship.
“Leathia has been leader and mentor for other corps members in her school, particularly in Pre-K and lower elementary.”
2014 corps member Staci Arrington agrees with Quackenbush. He has received quality coaching from Lipscomb as a Brookview teacher.
“I think she has been really great because (her coaching) helped me with my teacher evaluations and improve what I need to work on,” said Arrington.
Lipscomb, who likes cooking, art shows and attending galleries, says she is not sure where the future will take her, but says her time at Brookview as a corps member and now as an alumna has contributed so much to her professional growth. While she does not know what the future holds, for now, she is focused on her current work and new role at Brookview.
“It’s another new challenge,” she says excitedly.