The most memorable teacher for LaTanya was Mrs. Kelli Adcock, her 4th grade teacher. When LaTanya’s mom, a single parent of three kids at the time, was on a military deployment, Mrs. Adcock nominated LaTanya for an award that included receiving a new bike for Christmas from a local business. On the day of the award ceremony, Mrs. Adcock and her mother personally drove LaTanya to the ceremony. After the ceremony, Mrs. Adcock’s mother gave LaTanya wrapped Christmas gifts including a new coat. For LaTanya, that day was an unforgettable memory of support beyond her neighborhood and family.
As the Senior Program Officer at the NEA Foundation, LaTanya oversees the Southern Regional Alliance for Community Schools portfolio and contribute to other grantmaking initiatives. She brings 15 years of experience in education to this work including her recent Institute of Education Sciences Postdoctoral Fellowship at Vanderbilt University. In the fellowship, she researched racial underrepresentation in STEM pathways and trained with a team that evaluated school improvement efforts in state ESSA plans and Tennessee’s long-running school turnaround models (i.e., local Innovation Zones and the state-run Achievement School District).
Before her postdoctoral fellowship, LaTanya worked in educator and program director roles in Mississippi. Namely, she taught secondary science in public schools, facilitated sex education curriculum in public schools on behalf of a community-based nonprofit, tutored for a national franchise, worked as a student affairs professional that supported college freshmen in the transition from high school to college, taught undergraduate first-year experience seminars, and co-instructed graduate courses. She also served as the state coordinator of a regional AmeriCorps program partnership between three universities that deployed college student volunteers to serve with food insecurity programs and to tutor in early childhood centers, K-12 classrooms, and after-school programs.
LaTanya’s experience with community partnerships in public education also extends to coalition work and her direct management of after-school education. She was a founding member of the Lafayette-Oxford-University (L.O.U.) Reads Coalition, in Oxford, Mississippi, for which she co-authored the coalition’s community solutions action plan that addressed grade-level reading, school readiness, summer learning loss, and chronic absenteeism. This work led to an invitation for LaTanya to join the board of directors for the local United Way, where she served on its strategic planning committee and the executive board. As an after-school program director for a community development organization in Jackson, Mississippi, she led active partnerships with a 21st Century Community Learning Center summer program, the Partnership for Healthy Mississippi – Childhood Obesity Prevention Program, the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, the Mississippi Museum of Art, Millsaps College, Hinds Community College Aviation Department, Mississippi Child Care Resource & Referral Network, a church, and local artists. She credits each of the aforementioned partnerships in education to people’s common interest in the public good and her faith that the impossible is possible for communities.
LaTanya holds a Ph.D. in Education with an emphasis in K-12 Educational Leadership and a cognate in Higher Education from the University of Mississippi, an M.Ed. in Teaching Arts/Secondary Education from Mississippi College, an M.S. in Computational Chemistry from Jackson State University, and B.A. in Chemistry from the University of Mississippi.