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Conversations with Trinity Davis

Today we’d like to introduce you to Trinity Davis.

Hi Trinity, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself
I became a teacher because I did not see enough representation of Black teachers in school. Most importantly, the curriculum and the structure of schooling did not suit me or many other Black students. Teaching was/is a passion for me. My students were engaged, smart, and were happy to come to school and be in our family/classroom. I taught in Blue Valley, KCK, and Topeka. All different “types” of school.

These experiences let me see the inequities in education and helped me understand my thoughts as a young student. As I dissected data that continually showed Black students scoring low on national and state assessments, I felt a sense of urgency to be part of the solution of raising student achievement for Black students. Fast forward 16 years where I have now completed a Ph.D., become a tenured and promoted professor, and then an Assistant Superintendent.

Through this journey, my why and my sense of urgency led me to found Teachers Like Me. For one, we need more Black teachers in the classroom because representation matters. The most important reason for Teachers Like Me is to develop quality teachers who care about students and value what they bring to the classroom.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
In September 2019, I decided to resign from my position to create Teachers Like Me. It seemed crazy once COVID hit because grants were allocated to the pandemic. I was not sure I would get any funds to support the first cohort in time, but I continued to recruit. Eventually, grants and cohort one were in place by August 2021.

Teachers Like Me provides housing options for the teachers. The biggest obstacle and challenge was building our first duplex for teacher housing. With the pandemic, many deadlines were pushed back and so we had to purchase a house for the first cohort.

Recruiting nationally to bring teachers to Kansas City is a challenge, but I believe that will get easier as the program grows.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
What sets me apart from others is my ability to navigate this educational system from experience. We talk about the need to diversify the teacher workforce, but the work is difficult. The experiences of school for Black students do not have them excited to become educators.

So what are we doing about it? The universities are not able to recruit, retain, and certify large numbers of Black teachers. The districts pull from the university. So I am most proud of Teachers Like Me being able to be in the middle of the work.

Currently, as a partner with UMKC and KCPS, I am able to bring Black education majors to UMKC and work with KCPS for job placement

We love surprises, fun facts, and unexpected stories. Is there something you can share that might surprise us?
I play the piano.

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Image Credits
Kenneth Ellison and Jonathan Salomon

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