Randi Blair is a Senior Program Manager at Deans for Impact. Randi has worked closely with the Learning by Scientific Design Network, focusing on clinical educator programming for the past two years. Before joining DFI, she served as a teacher development specialist in a large urban school district and as a secondary science teacher. In addition to her work with DFI, Randi leads diversity and inclusion training and workshops for schools and other organizations. Randi received her Bachelor’s degree in science from Colorado College and her Master’s degree in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis on science from the University of Texas at Arlington.
Why did you start working in education?
During my undergraduate program, I took a field study science education class where I worked with local schools to help implement field science. As a biology major, I hoped to become a medical doctor. However, when I saw my first cadaver, I had to reevaluate my entire life decision. As I continued to work with the local schools near my college campus, I became aware of the dismal representation of educators of color. My mission was to bring representation and a voice to help improve the BIPOC experience in the classroom. So, instead of going to graduate school, I became a teacher at a local public charter school called YES Prep in Houston, Texas in 2004. My mission was to provide a place where students that looked like me could find peace, comfort and a positive societal mirror.
What do you enjoy most about working at DFI?
I appreciate how our common goal of transforming the educational system is protected and lived out in our daily tasks. I enjoy working collaboratively with individuals with diverse lived experiences but a common belief that every child should have access to qualified teachers.
Describe a teacher or student who made a lasting impact in your life.
Brandon was my student in both seventh and eighth grade. Brandon was the kind of student who desired to achieve in everything he tried. When we held our parent-teacher conference during Brandon's eighth-grade year, I asked the translator to inform Brandon's mother that I believed her son would soon become valedictorian of his graduating class. She grinned. Brandon shook his head in confusion, asking, - "What is that?" Brandon contacted me four years later and said, "Mrs. Blair, I'm the valedictorian of CE King High School." He later explained that although he had no concept of what a valedictorian was, he was driven by my faith in him. I'm grateful for that phone call. Brandon's story forever changed my perspective on the power of speaking life into students.
What's a principle, philosophy, or quote you live by, and why?
Human. Kind. Be Both.
The world around us can be harsh. I constantly aspire to be that person who is kind and sees your humanity.