Kendra Gray (she/her) is a Program Director from Bowie, MD. Kendra works closely with educator-preparation programs to prepare aspiring teachers to enact evidence-based early literacy instruction. Before joining DFI, Kendra has lead teacher development, coaching and curriculum implementation across Maryland and the DC Metropolitan areas. Her fourteen years as an education professional is grounded in her corps teaching experience as a Teach For America Baltimore alum and lead to her five year teaching experience in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Since 2017 she has primarily developed teachers' capacities for high quality, culturally relevant instructional experiences across all grade levels and literacy based content areas. As a proud HBCU alumna, she holds a Bachelor's degree in English Language and Literature from Clark Atlanta University and a Master's degree in Teaching Secondary English from Johns Hopkins University. Kendra believes "literacy is liberation" and that strong instructional outcomes are rooted in high quality development experiences.
Why did you start working in education?
I've always loved going to school and started working in education because I felt compelled to help others, especially children who looked like me. I grew up with the influence of my grandfather who was a career teacher and found myself as early as three or four years old, using my dolls, his "ditto" copies and typewriter as my own makeshift classroom. My matriculation as an HBCU student further solidified my commitment to teaching students in urban education.
What compels you about DFI's mission of ensuring that every child has a well-prepared teacher?
I believe that strong instructional outcomes from scholars are rooted in high-quality professional development for educators and DFI's mission is in direct alignment with that principle. Lots of organizations ground themselves in students as the primary audience which is important, and teachers also deserve that level of attention from organizations because without strong teachers, there are very few successful students. With more ways than ever to become a teacher, it's important that we prioritize quality preparation so that students receive the best instructional experiences possible.
Describe a teacher or student who made a lasting impact in your life.
A teacher who made a lasting impact on my life would be my late grandfather, Melvin Booze Sr. He began teaching elementary aged students in the late 1950s and retired in the early 90s. Seeing him dedicate his time to improving the lives of students and the joy his former students had when reflecting on their times with him was one of my earliest inspirations for being an educator.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
When I'm not working, I like to spend time with my family and friends, especially my dog Kiwi, travel is also really important to me because I spent so much time abroad immersed in different cultures, so I like to situate myself in learning about new people, places and things. I like aesthetically pleasing details which is code for shopping. I also enjoy sporting events and bingeing some reality tv programming.