August 1, 2012: For the first time this year, CCSA had the privilege of having several fellows working on projects for us through the Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE) Policy and Advocacy Summer Fellowship. All LEE fellows are currently serving in the classroom through Teach For America and through the fellowship have a chance to learn more about education policy and advocacy. Meet the fellows!
Maleia Mathis is a current M. Ed candidate at Loyola Marymount University School of Education and teaches sixth grade at ICEF Lou Dantzler Preparatory Charter Middle School.
This summer, I worked with CCSA's communications team to increase teacher engagement in the association's advocacy work. I met with local education reform organizations, as well as interviewed teachers for profiles and coordinated a teacher focus group surrounding engagement and a video shoot for a video that will be featured on the website.
What kind of work are you interested in doing in the future/after grad school?
I know that I want to be involved in the world of education somehow; I just haven't quite nailed down what exactly I want to do. I could see myself doing a couple of different things, but I'll let you know once I figure it out.
What drew you to the LEE Fellowship program?
I'm really interested in education policy and advocacy and the way that these two areas work outside of the classroom to influence what goes on inside classrooms. The LEE fellowship provided me with an opportunity to work with an organization that would allow me to become more familiar with both of these and to see how people are using policy and advocacy to influence life in the classroom.
What has been the most surprising thing you've learned in the course of your work this summer?
The most surprising thing I've learned this summer is just how much goes on behind the scenes to make sure that the charter schools here in Los Angeles, and throughout California, can focus on educating kids. There's a massive team of people working here at CCSA to make sure that charters have the facilities, funding equity and community support to continue the excellent work that they're doing. Each of the teams here are experts in their particular division of charter support and they fight every day so that charters can continue the work they're doing. It's pretty incredible.
What was your familiarity with charter schools before working at CCSA? How has your view of charter schools changed?
I teach at a charter school; but I had also done a fair amount of research into charters when I was in college, so I was pretty familiar with them prior to joining the team at CCSA. I think my view has changed in that I have much more respect for what it takes to successfully run a charter now that I've been on the other side and have a better understanding of the various components.
What changes would you like to see in our public education system?
I'd like to see more collaboration across charter schools and also between charters and the district. There are many schools and teachers here in LA that are doing amazing things for kids. If these schools shared their best practices, we could have more schools doing amazing things and hopefully, eventually, all of them providing all kids with an excellent education. It's not enough to have a few good schools, especially since we're all ultimately working toward the end of closing the achievement gap.