Mikisha Nation is the Executive Director of Teach For America – Twin Cities. She works with TFA corps members teaching in the classroom, and with program alumni leading across the system to help ensure that all students in our region have access to an excellent education.
I moved here in 2009, originally for my husband’s job. I thought: “That’d be a fun place to live for two or three years.” Now almost 10 years later, and three kids later, it’s a place we’re excited to call home.
A lot of my time is spent with my kiddos. If you live in the SW part of the city, you might see me running around on the weekend with a swim cap in one hand, and a bookbag, and a stroller! We also go to Park United Methodist Church—my faith has always been at the core of the values for my family.
I feel a really strongly about the community, so that’s kept me in Minnesota—much to the chagrin of my parents on the east coast!
Most of my career has been around health and educational equity because those are the two foundational things that really contribute to having a vibrant society.
I moved to Connecticut from Jamaica when I was six, and my early experience with education was pretty dreadful. People made assumptions about me, coming from a tiny island country. Going from almost being held back in kindergarten, to going on to Dartmouth and having the last 15 years of my life dedicated to service wouldn’t have happened without amazing educators encouraging me along the way. That’s the driver at a personal level.
There are such vast inequities between how our kids of color or low income students are performing when compared to their white peers. So at TFA we really focus not just on our two-year teaching commitment, but what it means to be a lifetime advocate for education and for young people. It takes a diverse and broad coalition to really reimagine what education excellence can look like.
When I visit schools in Minneapolis I see excitement, joy, and teachers that are working really hard. Education is not an easy undertaking. And because of that, we make sure that our new teachers have coaching support and mentorship.
I imagine a future where there’s much more honest dialogue around wanting to see all boats rise. I think in certain corners of Minneapolis, for example in Southwest where I live, we are very excited about the strength of some of the schools in our particular neighborhood. But we don’t see that even within those schools there are opportunities to be doing better for all students.
I’m actually really optimistic. I get to see students every day that are better positioned to discuss this stuff. I’ve heard preschoolers talking about difference, inequity and justice with a lot more fluency than adults! That gives me hope.
Click here to see who else we’ve Tagged.