Meet EdAllies’ 2021-22 EdVoices Cohort
This year we are thrilled to welcome 13 new EdVoices contributors to the EdAllies family. Through EdVoices, we help community members weigh in on the education challenges and solutions that matter most to them—and in the way that works best for them. Some EdVoices contributors are writers, others are artists; some have a lot to say on just one education issue, while others want to cover many topics through a series of contributions. But above all, we believe that to improve local conversations on education, and ultimately student outcomes, the voices of those most impacted—students, families, and educators—need to be front and center.
You’ll hear more from these contributors throughout the year, and we hope you read on to get to know them!
Suleiman is a Program Manager with Reading and Math, Inc. where he oversees math and reading literacy programs in dozens of schools in the West Metro School District. Suleiman is also an educator and a writer. Suleiman also runs the Minnesota Chapter of ICNA Relief (a food pantry and relief organization). He’s interested in discussing what tackling literacy in a virtual era looks like, virtual learning for students with ACES, and English learning at a distance.
Jennifer is a social worker, advocate, and parent of two children with special needs. She shares her story and uses her advocacy skills to inform decision-makers of the gaps in educational systems that can be rectified so that all children can thrive.
Kara is a National Board Certified Teacher, Minneapolis parent, and the co-facilitator of Class Hacks, an education equity book club. Kara was recognized by the Minnesota Council for the Social Studies as their 2020 Teacher of the Year. She’s interested in the intersection between education equity and current education policy.
Jason is a parent of two teenagers, a coach, and Afterschool Director at Ascension Catholic School. He’s dedicated to leaving this world a better place to live in for the Black youth and educating them so they can prosper in it. Jason is working to shed some light on the disparities and inequalities that Black scholars face in the educational system daily, shining new light on their experience and sparking conversations that lead to substantial and uplifting change. He believes parent/teacher engagement is one of the most critical components for scholars to be successful within the current educational construct.
Asia Givens is the mother of a 10-year-old, mental health practitioner, and family advocate. She is co-chair of the Black Parents Advisory Council of Minneapolis Public Schools. She co-founded Parenting Beyond Abilities and is a member of the Advancing Equity Coalition as well as the Parent Leadership Group of Hennepin County. She’s eager to speak about historical and educational trauma, its impact on children’s mental health, and how we can heal as a community by collaborating with schools.
Bellamy Heaton is a Senior at Avalon Charter School. They are interested in the intersection of mental health and art. Bellamy plans to attend an art school and become a professional artist.
Beatrice is a high school senior, attending courses through PSEO at the University of Minnesota while completing high school. She is going to graduate this spring with 70 college credits and massive savings on her post-secondary education. She is a student advocate for education equity and access, as well as student coalition chair for People for PSEO.
Qualandra is a parent, Family Coach, and advocate. Using her background in community engagement, policy, and education, she strives to support and be a voice for students and parents of the community.
Brenda is a teacher, writer, and parent. She believes in the power of voiced lives and is passionate about helping children and families tell their stories. Brenda is a writing workshop facilitator and feels particularly honored to work with children with chronic and rare health conditions—building community, and advocacy through shared storytelling.
Kaiyre is an elementary education major at Augsburg University, studying to become the future of education. He is a student-athlete, big brother, and first-generation college student. Kaiyre would like to challenge society to put more emphasis on representing the underrepresented.
Through his work with EdVoices, he wants to challenge people to understand why we are not doing the best for all of our students. We need extraordinary people in today’s society, he says, we can not expect our students to simply become what society needs them to be with a mediocre education.
Brian has experience with public K-12 schools as a student, parent, employee, coach, advocate, and academic. He is a manufacturing executive in rural Minnesota and works on several education initiatives that promote Career and Technical Education. Brian is the founder of On-the-Job Ed. He has an Education Doctorate and a master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language. Highly educated professional adults have not been able to create a school model that serves the diversity of all students; Brian is writing for the student that wishes to choose their learning environment and the mode in which they learn—giving the “consumer,” the students, a voice in school choice.
Sherry is a parent and advocate. She works intentionally, every day to secure educational excellence for my kids and their peers. To address educational inequities, Sherry believes we need to measure what’s working and what’s not.
Margaret is a parent and paraprofessional. She is interested in writing about the significance and impact of the digital divide, mental health, and restorative justice.
Kenny is a biologist turned Spanish teacher with an insatiable thirst for knowledge and self-improvement. He fosters the growth of his students and community through the application of mindfulness for increased awareness and responsibility. He’s writing for people that want to better serve our students. Kenny believes that in order to be effective educators we must adapt to new ways of thinking and doing that have been scientifically proven to enhance the learning experience of our students.