Channel 3 continues to celebrate Black History Month by honoring African Americans who are making a different in their community.
Principal Tayarisha Batchelor went from playing “school” with her dolls as a child in Hartford, to leading Rawson Steam School in Hartford. “When I think about teaching, it’s not something that I do, it’s who I am,” Batchelor said.
Her journey was firmly planted in Connecticut, receiving multiple degrees at Connecticut universities, and working as an educator in Hartford County schools. It was a deliberate decision to stay and give back to the community that raised her. “It’s not just about the title of the school that you’re in. It’s also about how you give back to the community, and this my community,” Batchelor said.
Rawson Steam School thrives on the community school model, which prioritizes looking at the whole child, their family, and what support is needed to address the barriers they may be facing. “I don’t believe schools should be silos,” Batchelor said. “In order for a child to be educated, you have to look at all aspects.”
COVID has made the family engagement part of the community model a challenge, one that Batchelor and her team try to conquer daily. Twice a week, Batchelor said attendance and engagement teams visit families that need support. They’ll also pop up to give kudos to students who are doing well.
Behind the scenes, Batchelor works with teachers to figure out ways to make their virtual classes more interactive. “I want to make sure that when we return, we’re returning to a family that is ready to interact. Ready to re-interact with each other,” Batchelor said.
As COVID continues to throw curveballs at educators, Batchelor likes to get feedback from the people who matter the most – her students. Rawson Steam School has a diverse student population. It is reflected in artwork, posters, signs, and assignments that ornament the hallways. Culture is embedded and celebrated. “They need to be reminded that we’re proud,” Batchelor said.
In Batchelor’s office, her doctorate, awards, and achievements stand out, but paintings, portraits, items, and books representing her black heritage adorn the room. “I’m an African American woman, and I’m very proud,” Batchelor said.
She wants her students to be proud too, and know they can be anything they want to be. “I came from Hartford and that I grew up just like they did, and I finished school and I have my doctorate. That’s an expectation. It’s not something that’s a far reach for them. I’m letting them know, no this is the norm. This is what you can do if you choose,” Batchelor said.
For Batchelor, leading the next generation of movers and shakers is her biggest achievement. “This is the biggest thing. This is the greatest thing,” Batchelor said.
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