Maggie Hackett


Title: ​K-12 Math & Science Director

Institution:​ Sunnyside Unified School District



I started my career in education in a Title I School District where 83% of the student population identifies as Hispanic and 80% of the student population qualifies for free or reduced lunch. As a classroom teacher (I teach 1 period of 8th grade mathematics a day, to keep my foot in the door) and as the Director of 2 high-profile content areas, I find myself constantly battling rhetoric pertaining to what those kids can do.

Our school district usually ends up as a cautionary headline when standardized test scores are released. John Q. Public shoots a sympathetic look when they hear where I work. Teachers that I work with struggle to envision what we are asking from them in terms of providing access and equity for all students. My own students were quick to tell me at the start of the school year how they were "dumb" and hated mathematics.

Examples such as this, and more, make me even more committed to the students I serve, as well as others in similar situations. I push back against the rhetoric from the public, (and even from within the district), and work to flip the script from what the students can't do to what they can. 4 months into the school year, and I am happy to report a much lower level of deficit-talk from the 8th graders I serve. I have a multitude of working groups with teachers, where they can collaborate on instructional strategies and their own content knowledge, and where the message of student capabilities can be elevated again and again. At a district level, we have made curricular and assessment choices that support instructional practices that promote access and equity for our students, in an effort to position our students for better performance on standardized assessments.

I spend my days advocating, to a variety of audiences, for quality first instruction for students considered an underserved population. While my skills are still a work in progress, I feel that what I have accomplished within my own school district has prepared me to expand my influence in an effort to create a wider impact. My lived practical experiences, combined with the theoretical knowledge gained from my graduate studies make me uniquely qualified to "walk the talk".

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