Shayla White is a Student Support Coordinator for grades 3-5 at Akili Academy of New Orleans. A graduated of Southern University of New Orleans, Shayla earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work, and she is currently pursuing her Master’s of Science in Human Services specializing in Program Evaluation and Data Analytics.
Now in her 4th year of working in education, Shayla knew from an early age that her calling in life was to be in a classroom setting.
“Education was something that has always piqued my interest,” she said. “My mother was an educator. I witnessed her in classrooms my entire life. She taught as a professor at SUNO in the education department and later as a special education elementary teacher and facilitator. Even though she encouraged me to seek out other careers, my love for helping students and their families was stronger.”
As a vital piece of the discipline team at Akili, Shayla’s day-to-day responsibilities include holding restorative conversations with teachers/staff, scholars, and parents to ensure that scholars are academically, cognitive, and socially successfully throughout their academic career. She also tracks behavior data and patterns in order to communicate with teachers, the school culture team, and the leadership staff about how to most effectively meet the needs of scholars.
“The most rewarding thing about working in education is seeing scholars make growth on an academic and emotional level. It is inspiring being able to watch them develop in to their own abilities, skills, and talents,” she said. “I love comparing behavior and academic data and measuring the growth of scholars,” she added. “We’re able to make data-driven decisions and formulate insights that drive positive changes for my scholars.”
Lesley Blouin, Director of Student Culture at Akili, has worked and supervised Shayla for the past two years. “Shayla has a way to make students believe in themselves the way she believes in them,” she said. “The type of love and support she provides will stay with kids their entire lives. I am truly happy that this gift doesn’t just live within Shayla, but that she gets to share it with our scholars everyday.”
Lesley also recognizes how Shayla uses this gift to motivate herself. “Shayla is motivated by the opportunity to help children understand their potential and how to use their skills to help them succeed in this world,” she said. “She is very dedicated and works extremely hard to get to know every student and finds ways she can best support them. Shayla never feels like her job is done until students have progressed and have met their goals.”
Shayla’s scholars also recognize all of the hard work she puts into supporting them. “Ms. White helps me when I’m upset. She’s the best teacher and helps me get my behavior together,” says 5th grader Henry J. “It makes me happy to know somebody cares.”
Shayla recognizes that a lot of her strengths have come from her time at Akili. “Akili has pushed me as a critical thinker,” she said. “I have grown professionally through receiving feedback, not only from leadership but also from colleagues. This feedback has allowed me to effectively give support to the students and teachers I serve.”
“Shayla has taken her social work background and life skills to create her own style of interactions with students and parents,” said Lesley. “She has grown from being a new employee of Akili to becoming an integral part of the Akili community.”
When asked why she loves working at Akili, Shayla is quick to acknowledge the community she is surrounded by when she is at work.
“I love the relationships I am able to build between my students and their families and being able to have a long lasting positive impact on students,” she said. “Knowing that I am giving scholars encouragement, a sense of security, and hope are some of my favorite parts of working at Akili Academy.”