Let's set the stage for 2007: Rihanna is just busting onto the scene with Umbrella, the iPhone captured our hearts along with our complete attention, and it was clear that the Spider-Man franchise would need to be rebooted in the near future.
April 5, 2018
As much as we loved 2007, we're even more excited that Barbara Dixon-Neal of the South Ward Children's Alliance, one of our newest partners, stopped by to chat about her time as a corps member. Read on!
Name: Barbara Dixon-Neal
Hometown: San Diego, California
Corps Years: 2007
Current Location: Union, New Jersey
Current position: Chief Program Officer for the South Ward Children's Alliance
What is the song or movie that defined the time when you did the corps?
Crazy in Love by Beyonce
What is the name of a student that changed your life?
All of them! Each one for a different reason but the first one that comes to mind is Khaliq. He taught me how important it is to take that extra step to get to know our kids and families beyond the classroom. Because we were able to just have lunch together and laugh sometimes, I was able to invest him in his reading goals and get him to work really hard to get on grade level. We ask our kids to do so much at times and he taught me that we also have to be willing to give something of ourselves too to let them know they are loved and supported.
“NJ rocks because it is bustling with some of the nation's greatest innovators, many of whom are TFA alums... ”
What is the biggest lesson you learned from teaching?
Everything, especially teaching, is relational. If you don't have good relationships with students and get to know them on a personal level, no matter how talented you are, you will not be able to teach them anything.
Why does NJ rock?
NJ rocks because it is bustling with some of the nation's greatest innovators, many of whom are TFA alum, tackling some of the toughest challenges facing our children and their educational opportunities today.
What do you do now?
I am the Chief Program Officer for the South Ward Children's Alliance, a non-profit organization in the South Ward of Newark. We work with children and families outside of school to help eliminate external factors that interfere with them getting an excellent education such as lack of affordable housing, food insecurity, and challenges related to mental health. I am also the Principal Investigator for our U.S. Department of Education Promise Neighborhood grant, which we were awarded in 2017. Through Promise Neighborhood, I lead 20+ local organizations in coordinating a two-generation continuum of access to high-quality schools and programs from the cradle to college and career that meet the academic, social and emotional, and health needs of children while stabilizing and empowering families.
“If you don't have good relationships with students and get to know them on a personal level, no matter how talented you are, you will not be able to teach them anything. ”
What do you value most about being part of TFA?
The vast network of support and positive relationships that follow me wherever I go.
What do you think is the most important issue in education today?
Properly supporting children that experience adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) outside of the classroom. High-quality prevention and intervention supports for children and families that have experienced trauma are extremely important in breaking cycles of adversity and expanding opportunities for children and families.