Joiselle Cunningham

Joiselle Cunningham

Washington Fellow


Department of Education

Washington, DC USA


I’ve persevered through the challenge of speaking up about the things that I believe in, even when no one else in the room agrees.

Videos

Videos

By Roadtrip Nation

Joiselle Cunningham

Highlight
Themes: Fulfillment
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01:05
Joiselle Cunningham HighlightInterview Highlight
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04:43
InterviewThe Interview
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01:08
Cultural Responsive TeachingWeb Exclusive
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01:23
Teaching ProfessionWeb Exclusive
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01:20
Teaching DemographicWeb Exclusive
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01:15
ESL ExperienceWeb Exclusive
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01:26
Staying InspiredInterview Excerpt
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01:29
Speaking UpInterview Excerpt
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01:50
Making an ImpactInterview Excerpt
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Milestones

Milestones

My road in life has been direct.
From a young age, she knew she wanted to make an impact on the world and be involved in social change.
As someone who had difficulty finding teachers and mentors that looked like her, she wanted to become that role model for the next generation of students.
Received two bachelor’s degrees from Duke University, then attended Pace University in New York to get her master’s degree in elementary education and bilingual teaching.
During her first three or four years of teaching, she began to see that she was on a path towards burnout, a common problem among educators.
She heard a lecture that encouraged her to work her own interests and passions into teaching, so she began incorporating dance—a long-time passion of hers—into the classroom.
Also loves traveling and learning about different cultures, so she took multiple opportunities to teach in different countries and learn new languages.
Eventually she realized that she wanted a better way to contribute to policy and to have an impact on some of the issues she’d seen while she was teaching.
She’s been working at the Department of Education for several years, focusing on policies that prohibit discrimination and ensure equal access to education for all students.
Keep following my journey
Education

Education

highschool
High School
undergrad
Bachelor
Public Policy Analysis, General
Duke University
undergrad
Bachelor
Spanish and Iberian Studies
Duke University
graduate
Graduate
Elementary Education and Teaching
Pace University-New York
doctorate
Doctorate
Educational Leadership and Administration, General
Harvard University
Career

Career

Washington Fellow

I work on the development of policies, strategies, and reforms geared towards expanding equity and access to education.

Career Roadmap

Roadmap
My work combines:
My work combines:
Education
Education
Politics
Politics
Teaching / Mentoring
Teaching / Mentoring

Day to Day

During my tenure with the Obama Administration, I advised, led and/or provided support for policy and initiatives that support teachers, leaders and expand equity and access out of the Office of the Secretary. I also provided leadership and strategic design for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans.

Skills & Qualities Beyond School

Having a background or interest in teaching/education is important. Understanding policy development is also helpful. You have to have a desire to make a difference and a willingness to make tough decisions.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for high school students

You don't have to have everything figured out right away. Figure out what your values are and how you can contribute those to things you care about.

Recommended Education

My career is related to what I studied. I'd recommend the path I took:

undergrad
Bachelor
Public Policy Analysis, General
undergrad
Bachelor
Spanish and Iberian Studies
graduate
Graduate
Elementary Education and Teaching
doctorate
Doctorate
Educational Leadership and Administration, General
Hurdles

Hurdles

The Noise I Shed

From Society in General:

"Don't speak up. "

I've often run into the challenge of being the lone voice speaking up about a particular issue and that voice sometimes being unpopular. I also have had problems with people questioning my decisions. I had to trust my decisions were right for me and that speaking up for what you believe in is the most important thing you can do.

Challenges I Overcame

Discrimination - Gender & Race
Discrimination - Gender & Race

Growing up, it was difficult to find teachers and mentors that looked like me and understood my life experiences as an African-American woman. I wanted to become that role model for the next generation of students.

Work Stress
Work Stress

During my first three or four years of teaching, I was on a path towards burnout. I was becoming mentally and physically exhausted by the work. I committed to incorporating things I love into my work and sharing those things with my students.