D’Andra McPhail - North Atlanta High School
D’Andra McPhail believes equity begins in the classroom. A teacher at North Atlanta High School, his guiding principle throughout his eight-year teaching career is that every student has a right to be successful.
“We all deserve a chance at happiness and success. As educators, I believe we act as equalizers through equity, or at least that’s what I want to be,” said Mr. McPhail.
Acting as a champion for all students, one of Mr. McPhail’s goals is to enroll more students of color in AP classes. Through this, he wants to show that there is a place for all students in all spaces.
“Sometimes the reason they don’t want to take AP classes or dual enrollment is because they’ll be the only Black or brown student,” said Mr. McPhail. “I want to help make them feel like there is space for them and that their voices should be heard.”
As an AP English and American literature teacher, Mr. McPhail works to ensure the curriculum is as diverse as possible. Using his lessons as opportunities to show all cultures are welcome, he provides his students with a variety of perspectives and viewpoints.
“We have discussions about race and identity, about what it means to be an ally. Because APS has a lot of diversity, I work to find examples that will resonate with different groups,” said Mr. McPhail.
With a large Latinx student population, Mr. McPhail is working to become fluent in Spanish. This is not only so he can communicate better with his Spanish-speaking students, but also with their families.
“Language barriers and translators can sometimes make supporting parents difficult, and because I enjoy intimate interactions with parents I want the ability to speak the same language,” said Mr. McPhail. “I want to have more enriching conversations and to be seen as a resource.”
Mr. McPhail focuses on making all students feel safe, heard and welcome at school, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status or sexual orientation. By serving as the sponsor of the Black Student Union and as a member of the LGTBQIA+ community himself, he gives students a supportive space to voice their concerns and challenges.
“Helping my students see beyond their present reality is what sustains me. I never want anyone to feel left out, like they don’t have the same shot as everyone else at getting something,” said Mr. McPhail.