During Black History Month,The Hub is spotlighting former students of Dallas ISD in our Legacy of Learning series.
“Embrace your life journey. Every experience is purposeful toward your growth and development.” -Nakia Douglas
You have a rich educational legacy within and without Dallas ISD. Tell us about your journey as a Dallas ISD student.
My official journey in Dallas ISD didn’t begin until my ninth grade year (1989) at Lincoln Humanities/ Communications Magnet High School. While all of my friends and family attended Dallas ISD from elementary through high school, my mom sacrificed for my sister and me to attend private school from kindergarten through eighth grade.
I graduated from Lincoln Humanities/ Communications Magnet High School in May 1993.
Who was one of your most influential teachers in Dallas ISD and why?
At Lincoln, the most influential teacher I was privileged to learn from was Dr. Juanita Simmons. Dr. Simmons taught our humanities courses, which were equivalent to college-level history courses. In Dr. Simmons’ classes, we learned not only to respect, honor and acknowledge the culture of others, but more importantly to acknowledge, respect, honor and love our own rich heritage. In the midst of our transformational educational journey, Dr. Simmons sponsored several trips to West Africa to deepen our understanding of our African lineage.
Dr. Simmons’ impact went beyond the classroom, as her lessons guided our development and success through our collegiate, professional and personal lives.
Tell me about your familial legacy in Dallas ISD.
My mom has worked in Dallas ISD for 29 years, my wife is a Dallas ISD alumna and currently a librarian in the district, my father and uncle were both alumni of Lincoln, most of my cousins who lived in Dallas graduated from South Oak Cliff High School, and my children are students in Dallas ISD.
What school activities did you participate in, and how have they impacted your life?
At Lincoln, I was on the football and soccer teams. Additionally, I was in the choir, Future Teachers of America, PALS and Student Council. Off campus, I was in Upward Bound, VA Explorers, Urban League 100 Fellows, and University Outreach.
Participation in these various groups and activities taught me the value of friendship, teamwork, respect, community service and the power of collective educational pursuits. My classmates, peers, sponsors and mentors made me a better student and person. They accepted who I was and helped me become who I was to be in the future.
What brought you back to Dallas ISD after college and what are some of your achievements since graduating?
I began my career as a kindergarten teacher in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, after graduating from Livingstone College. I made the decision to move back to Dallas after my father suffered a stroke. While taking care of my father, I recognized that I wanted to work in Dallas ISD and specifically in my old neighborhood (South Dallas) to show my students that they could make it out of their current circumstances through the power of education.
My journey as a teacher and administrator in Dallas ISD began when Mrs. Linda Smith-Ellis hired me as a first- and fourth-grade teacher at Dr. Martin L. King Jr. Learning Center. While serving the students at MLK, I met and married my wife, who was also a teacher on the campus.
After our marriage, my wife and I moved to Central Texas, where I began my administrative career in Georgetown and Pflugerville before returning to Dallas (specifically South Dallas) as an assistant principal at Charles Rice Learning Center. After leaving Charles Rice, I was privileged to serve as principal of Maynard H. Jackson Vanguard, Maynard H. Jackson Middle School, A. Maceo Smith High School and lastly, The Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy, before becoming the executive director of the South Oak Cliff Feeder Pattern.
I currently serve as the executive director of TRIO and Pre-Collegiate Programs at UNT Dallas.
You have so many wonderful and well-deserved accolades, but at the heart of all your accomplishments is service. What drives that desire to serve?
“To whom much is given, much is required” is a quote that has resonated with me throughout my entire life. My success in life is due to the sacrifices, encouragement, guidance and support of my mother, teachers, principals, mentors and the “village” who believed in my potential. My service is but a reflection of the gifts I received as a student throughout my educational and life journey.
For the student who is where you once were, the teacher teaching as you once did, and the administrator leading a campus, what words of encouragement can you offer?
I would tell each person at each level the same thing–the first person you lead is yourself, the first person you believe in is yourself, and the first person you love is yourself. You can’t believe in, lead, or love anyone else until you believe in, lead and love yourself.
Contact Douglas at email@example.com for donations to UNT-Dallas Foundation (in care of TRIO and Pre-Collegiate Programs) and volunteer opportunities. Follow him on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn at @nakiadouglas75.