5 Questions with Maia Butler, Read Fort Worth’s Summer Scholars Cohort Project Manager

The goal of our 2018 Summer Scholars Cohort is to create opportunities for children to continue learning all year long, expose students to books throughout the summer, align with FWISD‘s best practices in literacy, and to use a FWISD-recommended assessment tool to measure whether children who participate in the cohort maintain or gain literacy skills.
There are approximately 850 students participating in this cohort at 26 sites operated by eight partner organizations. Maia Butler, Urban Teachers Fellow, is our project manager.

1. How did your career path evolve from “where you used to be to where you are at now”?

Post-undergrad I was working in the marketing department for a healthcare company and felt as though I wasn’t making difference. One day a family friend told me about an organization called City Year which I ended up joining a few months later and I’ve been in the education sector ever since!
Education has allowed me to meet a multitude of people from a variety of backgrounds but also learn more about the identity and policy landscape of each city I’ve worked with.
Maia Butler

Maia Butler, Read Fort Worth’s Summer Scholars Cohort project manager

2. What were your biggest challenges in the classroom?

Some of the biggest challenges I faced in the classroom centered around trying to manage 23+ students, all with their own unique personalities, personal issues, and ability levels.
Teaching is both an art and a science. You have to trust the strategies you know to work while putting your own spin on things.

3. What worked?

One of the best ways to manage a large group of children is to take the time, however possible, to get to know each one of them on a personal level.
Children don’t learn from people they don’t like. As long as you are honest and consistent with your kids, you’ll earn their trust and respect quickly.
I pride myself on teaching through tough love. I don’t believe in sugar coating things for children and I hold all of my students to very high expectations. Younger kids thrive on their willingness to please those they care about, so that has worked to my advantage in my classroom.

4. What do you see as the greatest public policy challenges facing public education?

The greatest challenge I see facing public education is the desire to want our students to become academically competitive on a global scale as well as curate them to become globally-minded thinkers and doers but not allocate enough resources (financial or otherwise) in place to make it happen.
It is not fair that children that have the most and best experiences come from families that can afford to expose them more while their economically disenfranchised counter parts cannot.
Too many public schools are closing, just for a private or charter to open in its place, yet sometimes the same issues facing that community are still present.
As the product of an affluent public-school education I feel as though I got the most out of my K-12 experience and am thankful for all the opportunities presented to me. Can every child across America say the same? If not, something needs to change.

5. What are your goals for your work with Read Fort Worth?

I am all about efficiency and organization. No matter what project I’m working on, if I have a solution that can and will make the situation better, let’s do it!
The programs we’re in charge of this summer have a lot of moving parts and I want everything to go smoothly because the children we serve deserve to have a meaningful experience.

Jun, 22, 2018