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Exploring Life & Business with Salandra Grice of Conscious Education Consulting, LLC.

Today we’d like to introduce you to Salandra Grice.

Hi Salandra, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I’ve always loved children and loved working with them even more. Babysitting in my high school days, working in daycares during my college years while pursuing my teaching degree prepared me for the work I would do once I entered the actual classroom. I began my teaching career right here in Katy. I taught kindergarten for almost a decade and loved every minute of it! However, not long into my teaching career, I soon found that many educators, including myself, were unprepared for the lofty task of educating the students in front of them. This realization came slowly at first. Like any novice educator, I struggled to learn the ins and outs of effective teaching for the very unique and diverse students in my care. Unfortunately, not all of the bumps on the road towards effective teaching could quickly be paved over with quick tips and simple strategies. The seams that held together the idea that all students received fair and equitable opportunities to succeed in schools were ripped further and further apart every year. By the end of my teaching career, it had been made clear, every student was not given a fair shot at success. Even more glaring, not all teachers and schools were prepared to or even willing to provide one. After years of attempting to address this issue on my own, it was apparent that staying in the classroom and advocating for equitable education for all students would only go so far. I needed to make a more significant impact, find other like-minded educators, reach more students, and help create the systematic changes that all students so desperately needed to succeed. I left the classroom. 

My choice to leave the classroom did not come easy. I had every intention of teaching until my retirement years. However, as I reflected on my past school experiences, watched my daughter navigate her current school system, and feared for the school my young son would soon enter, it was the only choice I could make. When I left, it was only because I could not leave these schools that were not designed for my children’s success and others like them, as they were. Something had to change. Leaving the classroom was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, but if I had to do it over again, I would. Stepping out on faith into the world of education consulting was a daunting and sometimes overwhelming task. There were no handbooks for dummies on how to be an educational consultant. There definitely weren’t any manuals on how to be a consultant focused on preparing educators to embody equity-focused and culturally responsive practices in the classroom either. Blindly, I chartered down this road anyway. Today, I am the founder and lead equity education consultant of Conscious Education Consulting, LLC. I am also the author of the book The Conscious Educator: Becoming Culturally Responsive Teachers and Schools. I have authored journal articles and am working on releasing a second book sometime in 2021.

Today, I no longer work alone on this journey to create more equitable access to school success for students. Now, I have a team of educators fueled with the same passion and love for children and justice in education. Together, we work to ensure every teacher is equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to meet every students’ needs. Now, I get the opportunity to not only work with local teachers but teachers across the country! Although naysayers are never far behind, always there to remind me about the importance of this work, I will never stop pursuing the goal of equity in education. This pursuit is not just for the sake of millions of marginalized student groups across the country but also for the sake of my own children as well. If you had asked me when I started my teaching career if this is where I would have ended up, a small business owner, an author, on the path to becoming a Ph.D., and fierce advocate for equitable treatment and access to opportunity in schools, I would have told you not in a million years! However, looking back on those beginning years and reflecting on all that I went through to get to this point, I can only now think: By the grace of God, who else but I could have done it this way?

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Absolutely not! When I first started talking to my colleagues and fellow teachers about the inequitable and harmful practices I observed, it was not pretty. I was mocked, disregarded, gas-lit, ostracized, and ignored. It was disheartening to hear the negative comments and see the reactions some educators and school leaders expressed when confronted with evidence that many of our common educational practices may be harmful to students. Many educators were not prepared to have these kinds of honest conversations about the history of racism in our teaching practices and policies. However, it should come as no surprise that discussing race, discrimination, and mistreatment with those who have never had to before can be torrential waters for the unprepared. And I wasn’t always! The passion and direct manner in which I often express my concern for marginalized students can be challenging for some to endure. However, ensuring teachers can create positive environments for students has always been more important to me than being liked. Anyone who gets into this line of work and thinks it will make them popular, think again! Disrupting the status quo of inequity in education can ruffle a lot of feathers!

All in all, any struggles I have had along this journey have not been in vain. Every effort, setback, or negative comment, has only prepared me to face stronger oppositions in the future. Thankfully, the progress of the teachers I have been blessed to work with and their students’ progress lets me know it’s worth it.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Conscious Education Consulting, LLC.?
Conscious Education Consulting, LLC provides CPE-approved professional development, workshops, and coaching services for teachers and schools in Texas. We specialize in culturally responsive, equity-based, and anti-racist/anti-bias pedagogy and practices. We also offer a variety of professional development learning opportunities for PK-12 educators in all subjects and content areas. What’s unique about us is that no matter what the content focus is in your professional development session, it will always be grounded in a culturally responsive teaching foundation. We understand the importance of culture in the classroom and the critical connections between students’ culture and their learning. We are aware of the inequities in current school practices and seek to empower educators to interrupt and eradicate them. We want every educator to leave our sessions equipped with the knowledge and skills to recognize inequitable practices when they see them, create more equitable learning experiences, and build positive relationships with diverse students and their families. Our guiding principles set educators on a path towards embracing, empowering, educating, and including every student every day.

We’re always looking for the lessons that can be learned in any situation, including tragic ones like the Covid-19 crisis. Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can share?
If COVID-19 has taught me anything, it has only reaffirmed that all things work together for good. Most importantly, GOD is good! I can’t ask for much more of a lesson than that. COVID-19 has affected so many in so many different ways and all I can do when thinking about what my family has endured is that we could not have endured without the love of Jesus.

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Image Credits
Corey Dixon

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