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Posted On: 2014-06-28
Michele Lyall, Special for The Republic | azcentral.com
Tamara Becker, Sequoia Schools
Tamara Becker, assistant superintendent for EdKey, Inc. (aka Sequoia Schools), is determined to help students reach their potential.
Directly overseeing the Children First Academies of Phoenix and Tempe, schools that cater to the unique needs of children who are homeless or living in poverty, and the Sequoia Pathfinder Academy, scheduled to open in 2014, Becker is no stranger to challenge.
She takes pride in working for Edkey because of its commitment to meeting the needs of every student.
"What makes the Edkey organization so unique is that we have so many different schools with all different approaches to educating students," she says. "But because we are consistent with our vision and mission, we can serve every student and always uphold our core values."
In education, Becker found her passion and calling. "It was something I could do well," she explains, "and it made me feel complete when I was working with students."
That passion started in high school, where teachers who noticed her spark exposed Becker to a variety of opportunities to work with children and teach.
By the time she reached Edkey, Becker had a full resume. After a two-year special education internship in New York, she took an elementary teaching position with the Kyrene School District.
Next, she moved into administration, where she first served as an assistant principal and later as director of special education in the Higley Unified School District.
Becker then ran a privately funded grant program through Helios Education Foundation, promoting secondary training and education for young people in rural Arizona.
She demonstrated tenacity early in her teaching career.
"I realized I wasn't a strong math teacher so I took it upon myself to work with our district math specialist and attend conferences," she says. "In my last year at Kyrene, I was actually the academic interventionist focusing on math instruction."
In her current position, Becker enjoys being part of a team formed to change the culture and break the cycle of poverty for students at Children First Academy of Phoenix.
"We have really managed to cultivate the program," she says. "It's not something, I myself have done. It's something that we have worked on together with the school leadership team."
Moving forward, Becker plans make Sequoia her home. "I want to continue to help this organization develop and grow—that is the fire in my belly."
She credits Ron Neil, the former superintendent of EdKey, who recently died, as a source of her ongoing inspiration.
"I will work each and every day from now until I choose to retire to uphold the ideas and beliefs Ron had," she says. "Every child can learn and every child can be successful."