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 Video Series Highlights, Celebrates Black Educators

In celebration of the people of color in our region who have chosen to be educators, the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) is kicking off the video interview series Profiles in Power during Black History Month. 

The Equity team at SDCOE recently asked several Black education leaders to sit down and share their story via Zoom. Listening, sharing our stories, and connecting with each other on a personal level are simple but impactful ways to learn about the common values and beliefs we have about education.

The Profiles in Power series begins with interviews with Nelika-Fai Watson, assistant principal at The Preuss School; Dr Cynthia Larkin, principal at Morse High School; Jamal Felton, college and career guidance technician at Rancho Bernardo High School; and Juel Copeland, history and government teacher at Orange Glen High School. The goal is to highlight several educators each month and listen as they share their story of becoming an educator, including their unique experiences and learning.

During student panels held throughout the year, we’ve consistently heard students say that representation matters, whether it’s the adult in the classroom, district office, or board room. SDCOE is working to honor educators who are making a difference and highlight their impact. 

Watch all the videos at the Profiles in Power YouTube playlist. Learn more about the first group of educators to be interviewed below.

Nelika-Fai Watson is the assistant principal at The Preuss School UC San Diego and has been in education for 20 years. She has taught at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, as well as served in the nonprofit sector. She has held multiple leadership roles, including department and team lead, mentor teacher, assistant principal, director of school strategy logistics, and independent study coordinator. Her background and experience have shaped her into the educator she is today. Her passion to support adolescent youth is evident in her ability to connect with students, listen to their voices, and positively influence all students, especially those that she represents.

Dr. Cynthia Larkin is the principal at Morse High School in San Diego Unified School District. She has been an educator for 20 years, starting as a teacher, and moving to vice-principal and principal. She has adopted the philosophy of leading with love and continues to lead with empathy and a focus on understanding what students and teachers need to be successful.

Jamal Felton is a college and career guidance technician at Rancho Bernardo High School in Poway Unified School District. He attended Poway Unified as a student and went on to be a Division I athlete at the University of Rhode Island for football. He began working in education as a coach and in a security role. He brings a wide breadth of experience as well as people skills to help his community and give an example to all students to see the positive power of a Black role model. 

Juel Copeland has been at Orange Glen High School in Escondido Union High School District since 2007 supporting students in the Peer Leaders Uniting Students (PLUS) program and teaching World History and AP U.S. Government and Politics. She was recently named the 2020 Teacher of the Year for her school, she was a finalist for the postponed 2020 Teach for Innovation Award in the category of  Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and she was named an Escondido Education Compact Shining Star in 2019. Her personal story to become an educator and her passion for inclusive climates, equitable access, a culture of excellence, and social justice are inspiring. 

If you would like to be interviewed as part of the Profile in Power series email vescanuela@sdcoe.net.