Throughout the country there are countless people dedicating their lives to shaping the African American community for the better. Lagra Newman is one of those people.
Founder of Purpose Preparatory Academy in Nashville, Tennessee, Lagra’s commitment to educating children in the black community has lead the former Teach for America member to taking her dissatisfaction for the current state of education in her own hands.
The K-4 charter school recently opened its doors to the historic North Nashville community and Loop21 had an opportunity to discuss Newman’s thoughts on charter schools and what it means to be an African American leader in education.
Loop21: What was the most exciting thing about your first day at Purpose Prep?
Lagra Newman: When we opened those doors at 7:20 and started to welcome students. We waited so long for this day. Purpose Prep had been in the making for two years.
Loop21: How did you know that a career in education was what you wanted to do?
LN:This is the most important work that I could ever do. [Serving] children in underserved communities has been my passion because I recognize the achievement gap in low income communities, which largely impacts communities of color. Children do not receive the quality education that will set them up to be successful in life. To have the opportunity to set children on the path to education starting in kindergarten is amazing.
Loop21: The majority of charter schools and charter management organizations serve predominately minority children, yet are led by the racial majority. Did that factor play into your decision to start a charter school?
LN: Diversity in the education reform movement is critical. We need people of all different backgrounds contributing to the work that needs to take place in education. There is an added value for children to see leaders who look like them in the movement as well. I’m personally passionate about education as an African American woman because I see that so many African American children don’t receive a great education. So it gives me joy when I walk into classes and I see African American children learning and excelling and being a part of a high-performing environment.
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