This Black History Month, we are highlighting Teach For America-Las Vegas Valley corps members and alumni working to address inequity in and outside of school systems.
February 28, 2017
Founding The Colorfully Candid Paradigm, Incorporated was never a part of my plan. I arrived in the Las Vegas Valley to work with Teach For America certain that I would change the lives of a few little ones, however, I had no clue how much they would change mine. Within a few short years, I decided to remain in the classroom and take advantage of the opportunity to teach on a K-12 campus, where I could support students from kindergarten to twelfth grade. It was there that I realized how important emotional intelligence is as students struggle to focus on their academics when they are stressed and feel ill equipped to handle the stress.
Although Colorfully Candid serves girls of all races and ethnicities, we host events in communities with large populations of African Americans because emotional health isn’t always discussed in communities of color. I believe in the mission to enhance the emotional intelligence of middle and high school girls throughout underserved communities so deeply that I chose to stop teaching in 2016 to volunteer all of my time to the nonprofit. Through my time with the girls, I’ve recognized the need to employ unique strategies to strengthen their confidence and encourage problem solving. This is also why in 2016, the Colorfully Candid Book Club was launched. This is an opportunity to connect girls with books about characters who have shared experiences, to strengthen their literacy skills, develop empathy among them, and introduce correlating activities to provide a healthy emotional release. It is our expectation to expand from one book club to six in three different regions of the Las Vegas Valley this year.
“I believe in the mission to enhance the emotional intelligence of middle and high school girls throughout underserved communities so deeply that I chose to stop teaching in 2016 to volunteer all of my time to the nonprofit.”
I never envisioned working in the nonprofit sector because I knew, early on, that the work would be difficult. The most challenging aspect of my job is motivating others to believe in the importance of emotional health. I wish I were only saying that about the professionals who could administer grants and assist with fundraising, but I also spend a lot of time recruiting participants for the book club, conflict resolution workshops, and the retreats we host. However hard the work may be, I am committed to it because the rewards far outweigh the challenges. The young ladies encourage me daily as they grow in their confidence and communication skills, display more compassion toward others, and set big, hairy, audacious goals for themselves and their futures. When I arrived in the Las Vegas Valley, I was naive in more ways than one. My work with The Colorfully Candid Paradigm is the most profound way I know to express my gratitude for the students who mentored and taught me throughout my time in the classroom.