Shonqualla West (she/her/hers) understands firsthand how important a quality education is to a student’s trajectory in life. As a first-generation high school and college graduate, Shonqualla began to notice inequity in education at a young age, seeing the difference between the access afforded to her as a student in advanced classes and the type of learning available to the other children in her low-income community.
Shonqualla became an educator to ensure that every child was engaged and challenged in school. With children in her community continuing to be underserved by their schools, and after losing a former student to gun violence, Shonqualla was determined to found and lead a school of her own.
Through the BES Community Co-Design Fellowship, Shonqualla aims to work alongside members of the community to design a school focused on building future leaders through culturally sustaining teaching, internship opportunities, and community resources. “There is a crisis in education for students of color. Throughout my career, I have seen too many students lack the support and readiness to be successful. It is my calling to be one of the many pioneers to disrupt and transform the status quo in order to truly serve all students.”
Shonqualla most recently served as an assistant principal at IDEA Public Schools in South Austin, TX, where she coached teachers, supported students and families, and ensured equitable campus systems. She has also served as the interim assistant principal and STEM instructional coach for Manor Independent School District in Manor, TX. Prior to this, Shonqualla spent six years working in education with nonprofit organizations and providing diversity and equity training at the district level. Shonqualla received her bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Central Arkansas and holds a master’s degree in educational leadership from Texas State University.