Meet Ms. Miata Smith-Bunai / Kindergarten Lead Teacher / KIPP DC Discover Academy
Coming from a family of educators Miata Smith-Bunai, Kindergarten lead teacher at KIPP DC Discover Academy, always believed that the classroom would be her calling. “I probably was always meant to be a teacher,” she said. “I come from a family of teachers. My dad is a professor, his four brothers are all professors, so I feel like I was destined to be here.
She started at KIPP DC as a Resident in the Capital Teaching Residency program after graduating from Howard University in 2014 with a degree in human development. “When I graduated college, I started to look into teaching options. I spent some time working in classrooms for Prince George’s County before I found out about the Capital Teaching Residency. I loved the model and guidance, so I decided to apply.”
She assumed the responsibility of her own classroom the following year and has been a Kindergarten lead teacher at Discover Academy for the last two years. “The thing I love most about teaching children this young is that I’m not just teaching them to be good scholars,” she said. “I’m also teaching them how to be good people. I get so much joy out of seeing students’ master content, or parent’s celebrating their success. I honestly couldn’t see myself doing anything else.”
It helps, as she describes, to work with a tight-knit group of educators at Discover Academy all committed to teamwork and the ultimate goal of seeing students succeed. “We are very much a team here when it comes to supporting students and each other,” she said.
“We’re all pretty close and spend a lot of time together. It’s not rare for one teacher to have a problem and another not to have experienced something similar and able to offer advice.”
Ultimately, Miata wants to move into a school leadership role in the future and currently serves as a grade-level chair where she’s able to offer planning support and coaching to other teachers. Reflecting on the decision to join KIPP DC, to now being a lead teacher and delivering meaningful learning experiences to her students each day is gratifying for Ms. Smith-Bunai.
“While this is just one goal, it feels like I was able to accomplish something I set out to do. I live for the moments where my students are learning, or helping each other, or using the vocabulary we just taught them. I could not make that impact anywhere else.”