Tarneshia Evans: Kids Identify with Me
IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility) is an evolving committee where different voices are heard. Departmental representatives gather in a safe, neutral zone to address important topics related to inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility. The IDEA committee embraces a culture where all people are welcomed, valued and appreciated. This is part of a series of profiles on members of our IDEA committee.
Tarneshia Evans, Children’s Education Program Developer
For 20 years, I’ve been in the field of education, including eight years at Lewis Ginter. I’m also in school part-time, working on my early education degree. I heard a presentation by Akiima Price, a family and community engagement specialist in Washington, D.C. She said that the outdoors is not always a safe place for urban youth, so it’s important that they see a teacher who looks like them. Identification increases their comfort level and makes a deeper impact. Her words motivated me to become an environmental educator.
It’s fascinating to watch children find joy in wonder, play in leaf piles for the first time and learn how to care for the earth. They trust me because I can relate to them and I’m honest, not afraid to share my vulnerabilities and fears. Like during our farm-to-table lessons, they see me taste broccoli and kale, so they’re willing to try it (though their parents can’t believe it!). Kids identify with me because I don’t just talk the talk; I walk the walk. I stand behind best practices and my own teaching philosophies.
Incorporating Inclusion for Teachers
When working on programming for teachers’ professional development, I intentionally incorporate inclusion for children of all abilities. It may be in the form of educational puzzles with knobs, large-print nature notes or accessible pathways for field trips.
I believe nature is for everyone, and through the IDEA committee, I can help provide meaningful opportunities for children. It’s exciting to teach them at a young age to respect the outdoor world and each other.