Staff Spotlight-May 2022

Meet Ms. LaTeasha Squirrell | Mental Health Practitioner | Lead Academy

Ms. LaTeasha Squirrell is the mental health practitioner at Lead Academy and May’s Staff Spotlight! Ms. Squirrel is a Maryland native, obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Morgan State University and obtained her Master’s in Social Work at the University of Michigan. She joined DC in 2018 and is no stranger to working in the educational field. We had the opportunity to sit down with her to gain more insight into her experience working in education.

What led to your interest in pursuing a career in education?

“I took some social work courses in high school, which created a summer camp opportunity working with students who had been diagnosed with autism. So, I was always curious about different kinds of behaviors. I also did tutoring during my undergrad, which was a way to give back to my peers. I had a lot of jobs in the education industry, and it was coupled with my curiosity about behavior and mental health. 

 My personal belief is that education is the key to success in life, and that is where I wanted to be.”

What led you to want to work at DC?

“For me, it was seeing the DC mindset and structure around education, and the hours and work they put into students.

During my program at the University of Michigan, I always wanted to work with students that looked like me because I wished I had that when I was growing up. Therefore, I was able to achieve my goals through DC. “

What have you enjoyed the most about working in your position at DC?

“When they hit their goals, I’m so happy to see them grow! So, I think it’s mainly just working with the kids, seeing them grow, and getting to know them and their families. That would be the best part of my role.”

How do you establish trust in the students that you work with?

“Just remembering essential things about them. One of my students had a birthday, and I bought them a special lunch. Connecting with their families is a big thing too. It’s not just about understanding them but knowing where they came from—also, having conversations about different topics other than school to build a better connection with them. 

It’s very important to make the students feel comfortable when they share things. Being open to listening to them and giving them options and choices on what to do helps make them feel like they have the power to do certain things.”

How have you grown during your time at DC? 

“My mindset has changed more. Finding the balance between working with the child and the urgency of school, in general, has been one of my most significant growth points. 

It’s being aware that something is affecting a student’s learning, knowing it will not change overnight, and then explaining that to teachers. Communication with teachers and getting them to see their students as they are has been the biggest growth point.”

What kind of morning routine do you have to prepare for the day? 

“On my way to work, I always have some type of music playing. I listen to gospel music a lot of my mornings, and other times, it’s just music that pumps me up. Music is my biggest coping item, so I use that to get my energy right before I come in.”

If you could pass on any wisdom to your students, what would you share with them?

“Don’t let fear get in your way. There will be times when it comes up naturally, but don’t let it stop you from doing what you want to do!”

DC is proud to recognize Ms. Squirrell as this month’s Staff Spotlight. She has made a massive difference in the lives of many students, and we look forward to her many positive contributions to our students’ education.

Posted on May 12, 2022 in Awards & Recognition