#MNPSVoices: Leticia Skae, Literacy Teacher Development Specialist

MNPSVoices_030718_LeticiaSkae[1] Meraki is a word the Greeks use when describing doing something with soul, creativity or love. If you spend time with Leticia Skae, you will quickly learn she approaches her work in this way with razor-sharp wit, a joy of life that is contagious, and an unquestionable passion about her calling.

Skae came to the United States when she was three years old. After enrolling in Metro Schools as a bilingual English Language Learner student she became excited about reading and the dramatic arts.

After graduating from Nashville School of the Arts, Skae moved to Chattanooga for college – but knew she eventually wanted to move back to Nashville to teach. “I am a graduate of MNPS, so giving back to the district that helped construct who I am today has been a dream,” Skae said.

Skae began her career for Metro Schools as an English Language Arts teacher before becoming a Literacy Teacher Development Specialist (LTDS) at Martin Luther King, Jr. Academic Magnet School. Skae said her favorite part about being an LTDS has been working with teachers and sharing best practices.

“I love collaborating with teachers and I often learn as much from them as they learn from me,” Skae said, adding that she became an improved teacher when she discovered she needed to be more culturally responsive. “It can be a daunting change for some teachers because their reference points usually come from their own experiences in school."

Skae’s own shift to a cultural responsive mindset took serious soul-searching.

"I started teaching from books that had more diversity – both in characters and authors,” Skae said, who tailored curriculum to support her students’ different needs. “My students instantly became more assiduous and, as a result, they made remarkable growth in their end-of-course exams.”

Skae said she understands literacy is the foundation for a successful life. And although she recognizes there is still work to do, she sees progress.

“Literacy encompasses all things from reading, writing, speaking, listening and comprehending – all critical skills that assist you throughout life,” she said. “Our student population is diverse with many of our students struggling with poverty and language barriers that can make learning more complex. We need to connect with our students where they are and show them that there is a substantial world, with unlimited possibilities and untapped dreams which awaits them."