I am running a grassroots campaign for LACCD Board Seat five, as part of a slate with four other Black women to ensure that our community is accurately represented within the board that should serve our most vulnerable communities. LACCD campuses could be the necessary stepping stone to a career or four year institution, but as it stands recruitment and retention are not at desirable goals, especially for disadvantaged students and students of color. My approach, which has been shaped by my experiences as a Black woman and former student of multiple LACCD campuses, is to create the necessary resources for these students to succeed in their goals, whether that is to develop a trade as a career path, or transfer. I will address the pressing issues that are hindering students from realizing their full potential, and have developed the detail-oriented plans to remove these barriers. Education is the great equalizer, but we must make sure that education is equitable and student-focused.
Dr. Nichet James-Gray
ACTIVIST FOR EMPOWERMENT
As a teacher I have worked to inform, inspire and empower young adults. As an administrator I have worked to implement policy and procedures to ensure academic success for students while also supporting and creating incentive for faculty to ensure positive outcomes for students.
I understand and believe in the importance and power of education, as I believe education is the great equalizer. The Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) provides a cost-effective opportunity to empower a diverse population of learners, thinkers, and workers. The active word in LACCD is “community” and the community is not being represented on the board in both demographics and forward-thinking ideas. I am running for LACCD Board Seat 5 not as a politician, but as a servant for the vulnerable communities we service .
As an activist for empowerment through education and equitable education, I am an advocate for school choice because there is not a singular path that is widely accessible nor applicable to every student. I graduated high school having never seen a college or career counselor. These same structural disadvantages still exist within our education system and limit access to educational resources for poor students and students of color. As LACCD campuses are the most accessible institutions of higher education to these students, I seek to make sure they have the resources available to aid them in enrollment and retention within this system.
Like many young adults after graduating high school, I was uncertain about my educational goals. I worked as a loan processor in high school, so I decided to take a few business courses at L. A. Valley College, with my eye on real estate and pursuing a license. As life and its circumstances would take different directions, so would the eye I had on real estate. I became a young single mother, thus shifting my priority from school to motherhood. My full time student status quickly changed to part-time, and eventually reduced to maybe I can take a class here and there. Determined not to be a teenage mother college dropout, and despite the obstacles faced, I kept pushing through.
For years I took different classes at multiple L.A. Community Colleges, attending any campus that was close to my job or my kids’ school. My goal was to get my
bachelor’s degree before my son graduated high school. It took me 16 years, but I took all my transferable units from the LA Community Colleges and transferred to The University of Redlands, where I got a bachelor’s in Business Administration and Management.
18 years after I started at Valley College, I would eventually find my purpose at Los Angeles Trade Tech. I was in the fashion program and under the mentorship of Mrs. Adrienne Zinn, I became an unofficial TA-teacher assistant. I graded papers, took notes for students with disabilities and tutored others. Her love for her students was contagious. It is this kind of teaching and leadership that needs to be fostered to help guide and engage students across campuses. A few years later I would land my first teaching job at the Art Institute teaching Fashion Marketing. While teaching I would also further my education and get a Masters in Instructional Leadership and a Doctorate in Teaching and Learning. I have a Career Technical Education (CTE) credential and have taught English, Marketing and a host of other Business courses.
My teaching philosophy is simple, and student focused; If they cannot learn in the way that we are teaching then we must teach in the way that they learn. My dissertation, Teachers’ Attitudes and Perceptions About Nonstandard English Speakers 20- Some Years After the Ebonics Resolution was my effort to bring awareness to the plight of American born students whose first language is not “Standard English”. This is an example of my motives that shape my actions within my career and activism.
I still love and have personal experience with LACCD. All my children have attended community colleges within the district, and one has transferred to USC and another transferred to and graduated from the American University of Paris. I believe these are the kind of wide spread results we can have if we make notable reforms within the system, This is why I am running for LACCD Board Seat 5.
I am running because I believe representation matters.