Skip to content

Dr. Lateshia Woodley

Dr. Lateshia Woodley

Assistant Superintendent of Student Support, Kansas City Public Schools

Dr. Lateshia Woodley is familiar with the challenges of inequity in education. From her position in the Kansas City Public School District, she believes for real systems change to happen, a shift in mindset must occur. That includes the belief that the community has the resources to heal itself.

Q: Why is now the time, and what do we “double-down” on to leverage this moment to take strides for long-lasting change?

This shows up every day in my work. My personal mission in life is to ignite, motivate, and encourage individuals to reach their full potential. For the past two decades, I have worked to transform some of the lowest-performing schools and to make a difference in the lives of promising students and in promising communities. 

The pandemic brought to the surface what we, who have been in the trenches, have known forever – that the system is not designed to get the ultimate results for all. I have the unique privilege every day to work with a dynamic team of individuals, and we are doubling down by:

  • Successfully advocating for increases in social/emotional supports for students and families.
  • Being intentional about reducing discipline disparities.
  • Addressing issues related to public health and safety.
  • Focusing on issues of equity.
  • Leading the charge to become a model trauma-informed school district.

Q: For real systems change to happen, how must perspectives, and how we approach the economy and education, shift to meet the needs of an inclusive, equitable economy?

We must lift up the power of student voices as a medium for systems change.

I firmly believe that the community has the resources to heal itself. So many times, individuals outside of the community deploy strategies to try to impact systems change. For real system change to happen, we have to shift our focus. We have to change the mindset that children should been seen and not heard. We must lift up the power of student voices as a medium for systems change. Put students in the driver’s seat to voice what is working and what is not working to help build the bridge to inclusive and equitable communities.

Q: Where do you find hope in the work, conversations, and sifts you see happening, and how does that shape your thinking?

I find hope as I witness this shift and focus on equity within education and the business sector at large. I find hope as we see the mindsets shifting away from schools being a one-size-fits-all that works for some and not all. This inspires me and warms my heart to know that my granddaughter may have an opportunity to inherit a more just system to navigate than I did growing up. That we are on a true path that, regardless of zip codes, our students will have access to a quality education that leads to successful life outcomes.

Inspiration curation: Share who or what you look to for inspiration.

Through my life’s journey I have had the opportunity to have many teachers who continue to pour into my life and serve as my inspiration. Some examples are:

And many more.

Explore other 2021 Uncommon Voice Q&As