Expanding and Building the Impact of Dallas Kids First

Local elections have seemingly never mattered more than they do in today’s political atmosphere. This compels DKF even more to facilitate discussion and engagement in education policy decisions that impact our kids, families, and communities every day. As a result, Dallas Kids First has expanded as an organization and is introducing our newly hired Executive Director - Camila Correa Bourdeau. Below is Camila’s introductory letter for our Dallas Kids First supporters. Welcome aboard, Camila!

To our Dallas Kids First supporters and partners,

Thank you first and foremost for continuing to engage in discussions that push for excellence across our district. Without the diversity of experiences, ideas, and advocacy you bring to the table, Dallas ISD would not be making the heightened progress we have seen over the past few years. Whether the item under debate brings controversy or consensus, having your voice is valuable for the many decisions our School Board Trustees make on a daily basis.

You’ve inspired the continued development of opportunities we provide for our students - both during school hours and beyond. For that, we thank you.

For me, stepping into this role was a choice that made sense. I have always been passionate about education and definitely fall into the belief and cliche that knowledge is power. My parents, siblings, and I immigrated from Chile to New Orleans, and ultimately to Dallas in search of an education that would give us precisely that - the power to choose the future we desired. This is the same role Dallas Kids First plays for our students across Dallas Independent School District.

As public school teachers, my parents prioritized school and although our journey to the US began with the challenges of an extremely under-resourced school and community in New Orleans, we ultimately found our beacon of hope in the city of Dallas. Growing up, I realized I wanted to play a part in creating this hope for others.

After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, I started my career as a teacher through the New York City Teaching Fellows where I earned my master’s in Education at Hunter College. I taught in Washington Heights for one year and in the South Bronx for five.

As a result of my experience in the two different schools, I became hyper-aware of the differences a campus leader could have on the outcomes of the students under their leadership. I joined Educators 4 Excellence where I advocated for teacher voice in education policy decisions and quickly learned that the campus leaders were not the only ones capable of influencing major change for student achievement. This led me to become the union delegate for my campus under the United Federation of Teachers which gave me a wider perspective on the various levels of engagement a community member could play in advocating for policies that had our kids at the center.

Subsequently, I moved back to Dallas where I worked for Teaching Trust as an instructional coach for teachers across approximately 40 campuses in Dallas/Ft.Worth. I also developed adult leadership skills in educators looking to refine or grow in their influence. This allowed me to reconnect with the Dallas education community on a campus level, but I was still seeking a connection to the policy world that I knew was so important.

I was lucky to find CAMP, a partner program of DKF that teaches its diverse group of fellows all about campaign and management activity through the lens of the Dallas ISD School Board Trustees. I was thrown into the thick of the controversial issues the Dallas community and our kids are very familiar with and my urgency in contributing to greater outcomes for our students grew exponentially.

Whether in Chile, New Orleans, NYC, or Dallas, my experience has told me the same thing over and over: Our public schools, which share the same purpose, offer wildly different outcomes for our students. Without quality leaders, there is a limit to the quality of our kids’ futures. The leaders of our district have great potential - and we as supporters of Dallas Kids First have the knowledge to influence that potential.

Putting the power in the hands of our kids, via our collective knowledge and advocacy, Dallas ISD can empower its Trustees to push for high expectations for the future of our Dallas kids. But only when we put Dallas Kids First.

Camila