Name: Tenicka Boyd
Occupation: Director of Organizing, StudentsFirstNY
Hometown: Milwaukee, WI
Tenicka serves as the Director of Organizing for StudentsFirstNY. She joined SFNY from the Obama Administration, where she served at the U.S. Department of Education in the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Tenicka joined the Administration as Assistant to the Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. Previously, she spent years as an organizer: in Flint, Michigan, as Lead Community Organizer for Flint Area Congregations Together and as an organizer for the Obama campaign in 2008; and in Alexandra, Virginia as Regional Healthcare Reform Organizer for Tenants and Workers United, where she helped build a statewide coalition in support of progressive healthcare reform.
Tenicka earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Tennessee State University and a Masters of Science in U.S. History and Public Policy from the University of Michigan. She resides in Brooklyn with her college sweetheart, Calvin, and her daughter (a NYC public school student).
Education Advocacy Work
I have a pretty exciting job. I manage the largest education reform organizing effort in the state of New York. I have a team of nearly 30 who have 1-1s, house meetings, daily community meetings, leadership sessions, and trainings in some of the lowest performing school districts in New York City. Our organizing effort is still fairly new but we are seeing a tremendous response. Education policy is nuanced and complicated, but this is truly exciting work. When I walk in a church basement with 30 parents from the same school sitting together discussing ways to increase the quality of teaching in their local elementary school, I know that we are winning.
Why I Came to StudentsFirstNY
I truly believe that in order to reform education in this country, we have to be willing to challenge the status quo. I have always believed in putting students first. I love working with a team everyday that engages and motivates real parents around issues that are deeply important to them.
Areas We Organize Around
We discuss issues of teacher quality that many parents are concerned about. We know that poverty is an issue in many of the communities we serve, but we also know that teachers are the largest in school factor that can contribute to changing the life trajectory for many of the students. We also talk to parents about school choice. Though we organize primarily traditional public school parents, many of them see high performing charter schools as a viable option.
How can TSU be a gap to serve underserved groups in education?
I love my alma mater. I believe that this institution and my amazing professors truly contributed to my love for service. TSU has always been a gap to serving low-income communities and students of color especially in education. TSU should continue to create high standards, field experience, and rigor for soon-to-be teachers. The requirement and retention of men of color is also important and a great role for TSU. TSU and many institutions can continue to uphold the teaching profession as one of prestige and honor.
How can future teachers best prepare themselves to teach 21st Century skills such as creativity and critical thinking?