Tanisha Washington was 18 years old when her little brother Chris was born.
And she knew as soon as he roared into the world that she would devote a lifetime to teaching young people and serving in schools.
First, Washington, an Oak Grove resident who serves as the director of educational services at Bailey Education Group, an educational consulting firm in Mississippi, went to school to become a speech pathologist. She enjoyed the role, but quickly felt that she wanted a deeper connection with her students.
“I loved my children so much – but normally I only saw them two days a week for 30 days. I had to watch them grow and I loved them, but I wanted more, ”the native Bude recalled. “I was impressed that I wanted to be a class teacher.”
Realizing this, Washington returned to the University of Southern Mississippi for her Masters in Elementary Education. She later became an English art teacher and worked in the Hattiesburg public school district. After teaching for several years, she became an academic trainer and supported other teachers.
“The support from my fellow teachers felt very natural to me – very pleasant,” recalled Washington.
While working as a trainer, she saw great results and her building test scores rose. Much of that growth came when a trainer from the Bailey Education Group also assisted the building.
Teacher shortage:WCU is working with school districts to bring prospective teachers to class in 3 years
“We got to the point where we worked quite a lot,” said Washington, recalling the experience. “I understood and liked the process.”
Soon Washington received an offer to work for the Bailey Education Group.
Washington said her favorite projects are the ones that allow her to work with both teachers and students. In her role, she works directly with schools and districts and also sees the work of other coaches and project managers at Bailey.
The company also operates in Louisiana and Alabama. Since COVID instituted school closings across the state in mid-March, Bailey has increasingly provided virtual assistance that allows teachers to socially distance themselves and continue their professional development, lesson planning, and other work. The company has also helped support teachers who need technical training.
Your days can be quite long. She lives in Oak Grove, often leaves home early in the morning, works a full day on school grounds, and doesn’t come home until late in the evening. She has projects across the state including Meridian, Jackson, the Mississippi Delta, Northern Mississippi, and beyond.
But Washington said the trip was worth it.
“It’s worth it because I enjoy it and know that we’re making a difference,” she said. “It has completely expanded my scope.”
Still, Washington is working to reconcile her work-home life.
“I am learning that there are times when I have to leave work and be with the kids,” Washington said, referring to her aspiring ninth grade daughter and eleventh grade son.
Washington’s children are self-employed. Her son is a basketball player and her daughter is cheerful. She also spends time with her parents, Judges Ricky O’Quinn and Cathy O’Quinn of Bude. When she’s not keeping up with her family, she tries to catch up on her reading list or do some shopping.
Chris – the “little brother” who inspired her to pursue a career in education – is by no means a baby anymore. In fact, he is a college graduate himself and is now aiming for a master’s degree in school counseling. He lives with Washington and they now often speak and reflect on educational issues and topics.
“I think of my children and I think of my brother,” she said. “You are all so important to me. I know the difference a good education makes for them – and I know that I want every child to have the same opportunities. That’s why I have to keep giving everything – because I know how important it is that your teachers give everything too. I am happy to do what I do – I really am. “