KIPP Indy Public School’s Staff Spotlight: ShaDe’ Watson

ShaDe’ grew up on the west side of Indianapolis and attended DePauw University for her undergraduate degree. She received her master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Butler University and now serves as an Assistant School Leader at KIPP Indy College Prep Middle.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

Black History Month is very important to me. In the world that we live in, Black history is often shunned, stifled, and silenced. Being able to have a month that caters to my culture, history, and pride is awesome! Not only does it allow our society to learn more about Black history, but it gives us the time to teach our students more about their deep and rich history.

What role does your identity play in your work at KIPP Indy?

My identity as a Black woman plays a major role in the work that I do. I am unapologetically Black, and I teach my students to be the same everyday. When walking through the building and interacting with staff and students, it’s important that I show confidence. This allows my students to see how a confident and successful Black woman carries herself. Overall, my identity allows me to be a role model; it shows students that regardless of your race or situation, you can succeed if you work hard.

Why does representation matter in the teaching profession?

Students need to be able to see people who look like them in all professions. As Black people, we are already the underdog. Seeing this representation allows students to know that they can reach their dreams. Relatability is also a critical factor in pushing our students to excellence. They need to be able to learn and interact with teachers who not only look like them, but understand them on a similar level.

How did representation of people of color affect your own educational experience?

I will always remember my 1st grade teacher Mrs. Coleman-Harris. She was a strong black woman that held us to high expectations, while still being the nicest person ever. Having her as my teacher at such an early age made me feel more comfortable in my own skin.

My 4th grade teacher, Ms. Bishop, was also a pillar in my educational career. She was one of the first teachers to not only notice that I was bright but to push me to my full potential. Throughout high school the majority of my teachers were Black. They were often the hardest on me, but retrospectively I can see this was because they wanted to see me succeed. I was blessed enough to have a plethora of Black teachers that helped shape my career, and inevitably pushed me into education.