The Infinite Possibility of Human Potential
Nasif Rogers, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Grandmothers are truly national treasures. Or at least I’m convinced that my granny is just that. And I have ample amount of evidence and experience to win that case if ever it was up to a deciding body. What makes my deep affinity and love for my granny so powerful and central to who I am is the critical role she played in my upbringing. For all intents and purposes, she raised me. After being homeless and jumping from shelter to shelter for a period of time in my preteen years, my granny took my siblings and me in while my mother worked on getting healthy and healed from a multitude of traumatic experiences.
I firmly believe that my granny saved my life. She saved me from being another statistic that we refer to when describing Black life on the southside of Chicago. She saved me from being trapped in an education system that, because of a speech impediment and having an IEP, would have determined my life trajectory with low expectations, missed opportunities, and a marginalizing educational experience. She saved me from thinking that my Black life didn’t matter.
That upbringing, including all that my granny did to pour into me and the demand she placed on others to see me through an asset-based lens (and with love), ignited in me a deep desire to pursue justice and transformative change. After becoming a pretty good competitive policy debater in high school, I had my sights set on law school to pursue a career focused on civil rights and educational justice. But that plan quickly took a backseat after serving as a teaching assistant and debate coach for high school students while in college. My life changed at that point. I decided I wanted to be a teacher.
As an educator who has served the Milwaukee metro area, I know all too well the challenges we face. And I am steadfast in my belief that education is a powerful tool in this pursuit for collective justice and liberation. And that is what attracted me to Rocketship Public Schools. The focus on a learning experience that is personal and relevant, cultivating talent, and leaning into the power of parents are all critical to the changes we seek. As a leader, I am chiefly interested in building the capacity of others in our collective pursuit and belief “in the infinite possibility of human potential”–especially when that potential is located in the margins. And it is that pursuit which will define not just our DEI work, but also our ways of being.
The way my granny loves and believes in me is the way that each kid deserves an educator to love and believe in them. But we also have to believe in our families and believe in each other as we work to deepen our collective sense of belonging while pursuing this mission of a lifetime. In my short time here thus far, I have felt a strong sense of that belief. And I am looking forward to helping to deepen that belief and the work it requires to realize the infinite possibilities that may result. Our DEI work this year will be geared towards understanding what it means to belong, and not belong; and building both individual and collective capacity to ensure that we are learning and unlearning the mindsets, language, and behaviors that will impact how we authentically show up, and thrive.
Published on November 30, 2022