The Capital Teaching Residency at KIPP DC is a three-year program that offers individuals the opportunity to gain the skills and experiences needed to develop as an educator and empower the next generation of Washingtonians. Angela Thomas is wrapping up her first year as a PreK3 Resident at Connect Academy. As a graduate of Towson University with a degree in business administration, the journey toward teaching may seem unlikely—until you get to know Angela.
As one of five siblings growing up, toys and dolls were something that never interested her. She could always be found helping nurture, care, and look after the babies in the family. And yet, it wouldn’t be until after college when she began pondering how she could turn a lifelong passion into a career. “I studied business throughout college and took a few marketing jobs upon graduation, but it was never what I was passionate about. I wanted to do something I felt had purpose, something with meaning behind it and the chance to make an impact.”
Having graduated with her business degree, she didn’t see a direct path to getting inside the classroom with little to no teaching experience. She had a friend who, similar to her, decided to embark on a career in teaching despite not having any previous education experience and was a Resident in the Capital Teaching Residency. After learning about the program, the skills gained, and support provided to mold teachers into effective educators; she applied to be a part of this year’s cohort.
“From everything I’ve gathered, I knew it would be the right experience for me,” she said. “I probably could have been an assistant teacher somewhere else, or tried to find another route in, but the Capital Teaching Residency and it’s benefits are so unique. In my first year, I’ll be PRAXIS certified and have my teaching license. You’re not going to find that anywhere else, along with the skill-set you build and support you receive.”
The Capital Teaching Residency’s gradual release model, which helps a Resident grow their classroom leadership skills alongside an experience lead teacher, has had a profound impact on her growth as an educator. “She’s more than a mentor, she’s a friend,” Angela remarked when describing 2018-19 Teacher of the Year for Connect Academy Irum Ahmad. “Our relationship is indescribable and just having the help and support of someone you’re with everyday has been an enormous part of my success.”
When looking back on her residency year, being able to help develop students and connect with our youngest learners has been core to her happiness. “I think the biggest part of this job is you have to lead with love. It fills my heart to be apart of their growth not only academically, but socially. We’re apart of teaching them about life and that’s what’s so important to me. I don’t see myself as just a teacher, but as also another role model for them.”
In some ways, a Resident’s first year has many similarities with that of our PreK3 students. Most are taking their first steps on a long educational journey and establishing a firm foundation on which they will continue to build on. The next generation of leaders needs the next generation of educators to help show them the way. With the Capital Teaching Residency and educators like Ms. Thomas, the future is in great hands.