Asha Moore is carrying a torch—one handed to her from her aunt Barbara Vickers, a foot soldier in the civil rights movement. Once a shy girl who didn’t see herself as a leader, Asha now lights the path for others, serving as Dean of Students at the Academy for Integrated Arts, an arts-focused Kansas City Charter School, and as TEACH Kansas City teacher ambassador.
TEACH Kansas City sat with Asha to discuss Women’s History Month and women’s leadership, from her family legacy in the civil rights movement to her own beliefs about leadership, encouragement and empowerment.
From the classroom to the dean’s office
Asha's journey from classroom leader to the dean’s office has been guided by the core values of encouragement, continual learning and empowerment.
According to Asha…
- Education is the key to success. She feels it is her duty to provide opportunities for students to receive the best education they can. She wants to leave this world knowing lives were changed because she was in it.
- Encouragement leads to empowerment. Part of the power of education comes from the encouragement students receive from teachers and school leaders. Asha’s hope is that the positive and encouraging words she speaks to the children and people she interacts with daily give them strength.
- Leadership also looks like learning from others. Highlighting the importance of community diversity she says, “it can look different, but diversity is needed for any community to grow and flourish—especially for change to occur.” In her school, she points to how much people learn from other points of view, traditions, races and ethnicities.
"As teachers, leaders and continual students, we must listen and learn from others in order to grow."
Women leaders run in the family
Women’s History Month is a staple in Asha’s family. When asked to pick one woman who inspires her daily, she named her aunt Barbara Vickers, a civil rights activist who met and marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Listening to her tell the story of her aunt Barbara, you get a sense of what a powerful teacher Asha is. She tells how Barbara Vickers met Dr. King with no intention of marching or helping. Since he was in her hometown of St. Augustine, Florida, aunt Barbara just wanted to meet him. As aunt Barbara told Asha, Dr. King looked right at her and said, “young lady you will march with us.” She couldn’t say no to Dr. King!
This began Barbara Vickers’s journey as a foot soldier fighting during the movement. More than 50 years later, in 2015, Mrs. Vickers raised enough money to get a monument built for the foot soldiers who marched during the Civil Rights Movement in St. Augustine. The monument now stands in the Plaza de la Constitución, across from the slave market where slaves were auctioned and sold.
Continuing the family legacy of leading and teaching, the monument to the foot soldiers is a place where children, adults and families can all be students.
As of this writing, Barbara Vickers still lives in St. Augustine. She is 95 years old and can recount events like they happened yesterday!
Honoring those who carry the torch
What does Women’s History Month mean to Asha?
“To me Women's History Month is an opportunity to honor women who paved the way for all other women—women who worked hard, fought daily and lived a life worthy of celebrating, because they never gave up. It is also an opportunity to celebrate women who are carrying the torch and fighting today because knowing our history helps us understand how far we still have to go.”
Like Asha, classroom leaders carry the torch for the students they serve. When asked what message of encouragement and inclusion Asha has for future teachers, she said:
“When I was little, I was very shy and very tall compared to all of my friends. I used to walk bent over to make myself shorter. I had low self-esteem. I never saw myself as a leader. Now, I am far from that shy girl who used to make herself smaller to fit in. Don't try and fit in; be yourself. It's okay to be different. Leaders take risks. Most importantly, never doubt yourself!”
Interested in classroom leadership?
For Asha, leadership looks like encouraging others, as a teacher and a school leader. What does leadership look like for you? Are you curious about pathways in the field of education?