Ziena Walker is a second grade teacher at Southside Ashpole Elementary, part of Innovative School District, in Rowland, North Carolina.  She was introduced to the position by UI – PCG Education’s EdForce team, helping to so...

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Spotlight: Bruce Douglas and SXSW EDU

          Raised by a pastor and the oldest of four brothers, Bruce Douglas recalls from a young age being taught the ins and outs of becoming a leader.  Most importantly, he learned to be a servant leader, wanting to lead with humbleness, respect, and the idea of treating others similarly to how he would want to be treated.  His core values and beliefs are based on the Christian faith and he is proud to be a person of purposeful impact.

          Bruce attended University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he received a Bachelor of Science in Political Science.  Over five years later, he decided to continue his education and received his Master of Business Administration at Louisiana State University Shreveport.

          Upon graduation at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Bruce signed up at a temp agency that placed him at a K-12 EdTech company.  In less than two months, the agency offered him a full-time contract, as he made ninety phone calls a day, talking to educators about improving student engagement in the classroom.  On a weekly basis, he found himself engaged in deep conversations with passionate leaders that sincerely cared about educating the next generation of leaders.  Also caring for the future of the world, the idea and passion behind shaping tomorrow’s future by educating today’s students resonated with Bruce and led him to continue in K-12 education.  He started to become further interested in K-12 on the business side of the education sector to ensure educators are equipped with the skills, tools, and resources to ensure today’s students are prepared to be tomorrow’s leaders.

          He has additionally given back to the community by helping to establish and launch many non-profit start-ups, such as the HEROH Foundation.  Founded by his colleague from college, Chris James started the organization to support Chicago student-athletes on the south side of the city with mentoring, tutoring, and athletic training.  Through their efforts, over one hundred student athletes have received a scholarship to play football in college.

 

 

          Now, as a thirty-year-old father of two, Bruce is a UI-PCG Educational Consultant and has been with the team for almost four years.  He says he enjoys being an Educational Consultant because it enables him to collaborate with district leaders to provide positive student outcomes.  He especially appreciates the many opportunities to speak and work with students.

          “For example,” Bruce begins, “I have been blessed with the chances to speak to high school students at Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), at their Young Men of Color conference, along with students at Chicago Public Schools (CPS), during their Black Male Day of Service.”

          Equity in education is an important concept Bruce has been passionate about ever since he can remember.  Although he is an equity advocate for many reasons, he has two main explanations, one being personal and the other professional.

          “Personally, I’m vested because I endured many inequalities as an African-American man, raised in a suburban school district, outside of Chicago.  As a young boy I started to realize there were things I couldn’t do that my Caucasian friends could do.  I didn’t really understand why, and as I became more educated and extended my network outside of my suburban neighborhood, I knew as a nation we needed to move in a positive, upward trajectory for people of color.”

          Bruce takes pride in his equity expertise, as he’s traveled to school districts across the country to collaborate with district leaders in providing equitable outcomes for all students.  Professionally, he often notices that many schools are experiencing similar inequitable issues.  Since working for UI-PCG, Bruce has made an extended effort to combat inequities in the classroom by providing frameworks and structures of support for student services.

          To further his knowledge in the equity realm, Bruce has been working with the My Brother's Keeper initiative.  His goal is to begin the discussions and put the actions into place to address systemic issues for students of color.  This includes the disproportionality of African-Americans in special education, the underrepresentation of students of color in advanced placement courses, and the eradication of the school to prison pipeline.

          Also a leader in the MBK initiative is Bruce’s mentor and colleague, Rick Purcell.  Rick is an Associate Manager at PCG Education and the two have joined forces to create the National MBK Forum.  The Forum was created so district leaders across the country can virtually share best practices to provide equitable outcomes for students of color to a constituent base of over five hundred members.  Bruce’s role is to be a bridge connector for educators and equity leaders that are committed to providing equitable student outcomes.  They often hold National MBK webinars, workshops, and sessions, such as the session that can be found in late April by following their Twitter account

          The South by Southwest Edu (SXSW EDU) conference is an event Bruce has been attending for four years now.  He enjoys the energy at SXSW EDU and explains there is no other educational conference quite like it.

          "The diversity of the attendees is what makes it special.  From entrepreneurs in EdTech, to administrators and teachers, to non-profit and business leaders, and even the Government sector is all in attendance sharing their great ideas and best practices to improve education,” states Bruce.

          Additionally, Bruce sees it as an honor and a blessing to serve as an Advisory Board member for SXSW EDU.  His responsibilities as an Advisory Board member include selecting content sessions for the equity track/general sessions and serving as an ambassador for the conference.  As an ambassador, he promotes sessions, encourages the attendance of educators and business leaders, and converses with attendees to receive feedback.  He was also one of nine attendees chosen by the SXSW team to share his perspective, goals for the conference, and schedule in a SXSW EDU blog post.

          This year at SXSW EDU, PCG will host an exclusive pre-party dinner and sponsor the official Opening Party on Monday, March 4th. Additionally, Bruce will be leading a session and has put together an amazing panel that he is very proud and honored to showcase.  High-level leaders from across the country, including superintendents of urban school districts and leaders of state associations are part of the panel.  This includes Dr. Martha Zamora, President of Texas Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (TALAS) and the superintendent of Tomball ISD, in Tomball, Texas.

          Chosen out of more than 1,500 proposals submitted for SXSW EDU this year, the topic of the panel discussion is Equity v Equality: What’s the difference? The reason Bruce chose to highlight this issue is from his many experiences the last three years collaborating with educators around equity.  He began to realize that numerous leaders were using “equity” and “equality” as interchangeable words when they certainly have different meanings. Since equity is a theme of many school districts across the country, he felt compelled to have the conversation with several of the best and brightest leaders in K-12 school districts. What are the differences between equity and equality and how do we get to a place of liberation to remove all barriers to ensure every student has access to equivalent tools and resources?

          For a sneak peek and session details, travel to the SXSW EDU website.

 

Article written by Summer Tarpley.

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