As the daughter of a teacher, a teacher herself, and the former Chancellor of DC Public Schools, Kaya Henderson believes in the power of education. In this conversation, part of Add Passion and Stir’s ongoing Rebuilding series, Henderson recounts how she grew up in a household with an ethic of “to whom much is given much is required” and how that instilled a desire to give back.
An opportunity to teach in the South Bronx as a member of Teach for America sparked Henderson’s love of education: “I taught middle school Spanish in the South Bronx for two years. It completely changed my life, changed my outlook, changed my trajectory.”
Her experience in education led her to realize that formal education systems don’t offer enough opportunities to develop children’s cultural identity and specifically offer space to discuss Black contributions in an accurate, identity-affirming way. This led her to found Reconstruction, an online education platform that “teaches Black Glory, Black Love, Black Genius, Black Kindness, and Black Excellence.”
Henderson describes the mission of Reconstruction as “a reckoning around how we tell the full truth about history and our historical context is complicated…When kids know themselves they act differently in the world. When kids have been fed a steady diet of negative things about themselves then they don’t believe that they can succeed.”