DC Principal Empowers Students to Transform Their Lives
Tucked away in Laurel, Maryland, among trees and rundown buildings lies what, for some, serves as a safe haven – and even better, a new beginning. Maya Angelou Academy, within the walls of the New Beginnings Youth Development Center, serves students who have been adjudicated in order to help them reach their full academic and career potential, and aims to support them in transitioning back successfully to the community.
I recently had the privilege of visiting Maya Angelou, meeting some of the students and educators, and shadowing its leader, Principal Rennie Taylor. Principal Taylor is a passionate educator, originally from the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago, who has formed an undeniable connection with his students and staff at the Maya Angelou Academy. As a former coach, motivational speaker and special education instructor, he has dedicated his entire career to serving students who face the greatest odds inside and outside the classroom. For Principal Taylor and the staff at Maya Angelou, there is no greater satisfaction than seeing their students overcome the toughest circumstances and exceed everyone’s expectations.
“[At the Academy] students get a taste of what it means to be celebrated”, Taylor told me during my visit with him this week. “That dose of positive energy can get them to say ‘this isn’t so bad.’” He said showing a student you believe in their ability to achieve is the center of his and his staff’s mission. Read More
—Emma Vadehra serves as Chief of Staff to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.