My experience as a teacher of students from diverse backgrounds and abilities ground me and help me understand that empathy and trust are essential if learning is to happen. I’ve taught in an Upward Bound summer program for Black high school students in underserved communities, at a large public university with a majority minority population, two Ivy League universities, and a generous admissions arts and media college in Chicago. I am grateful to all of my students for making me a better teacher and human being, and I have the utmost respect for teaching as a profession and a calling. I recognize that K-12 public school teaching is different in important ways from college-level instruction, but I also believe there are shared values and principles that hold true in any teaching-learning relationship. I bring to my board role a first-hand understanding of the myriad social-emotional dynamics at play in the classroom and how school culture can affect student success and well-being.
My husband and I have made Evanston our home for nearly 14 years. Our children were born here and are being educated here. I want the schools to be good not just for them, but for all the children who grow up with them.
Serving since early 2020. I applied to the board to fill a vacancy in the spring of 2020 and I am running for a full term to continue my service.
Member since 2018. This anti-racism education and action series aims to empower Evanston families to help enact meaningful change in policies and practices in our public schools. I help organize the series of workshops and programming with a dedicated, multiracial group of parent advocates. In the 2019 school year, I co-facilitated discussions of Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist with Melissa Blount. https://www.nextstepsevanston.com/about
Member since 2017. The committee works to promote and support equity-minded policies and practices at Lincoln Elementary and connect families with resources at Lincoln and in the larger D65 community. Committee members also serve as Lincoln representatives of the PTA Equity Project (PEP).
I am the product of strong public schools and I believe in their potential to transform lives. But only if we fight for them and advocate for the right of every child to have access to high quality public education. I arrived in the U.S. with my family when I was six years old, not speaking or reading any English. I remember my kind kindergarten teacher working with me one-on-one while my classmates played, trying to teach me the words for colors. As an emergent bilingual student, I was embraced and nurtured and integrated into the life of the school that offered choir, school plays, dance festivals, and other enrichment. Serving a diverse, largely working class and immigrant community in Queens, NY, P.S. 120 wasn’t a wealthy school; it was simply an adequately funded one. After 6th grade, we moved to the suburbs and my brother and I attended an even better funded public school that prepared us well for college.
I attended Williams College, a small liberal arts school in Massachusetts. After graduation, I headed west without much of a plan, and then enrolled in graduate school, earning a doctorate in English from the University of California, Irvine. I have been working in higher education ever since, first as a teacher and then as an administrator. It was as a beginning instructor teaching freshman composition at UC Irvine to a largely Asian American student population that I first understood the impact of representation, that my background and the experiences I brought into the classroom were as important to my students’ learning as what and how I taught.
Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs, School of Professional Studies, Northwestern University 2016 – present
Senior Partner, Learners at the Center, LLC (educational consulting)
2015 - present
Director, Center for Innovation in Teaching Excellence, Columbia College Chicago
2007 – 2016
Assistant Director and Lecturer, Princeton Writing Program, Princeton University
2003 – 2007
Instructor, Expository Writing Program, Harvard University
2000 – 2003
Instructor, Department of English & Comparative Literature, University of California, Irvine
1992 - 2000
PhD, English Literature, Univ. of California, Irvine
BA, English and Art History, Williams College
Your support and contributions will enable us to meet our goals and ensure Soo La continues the fight on the D65 schoolboard.