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Baba Olumiji

Baltimore City Teaching Residency

School Leader

Why did you become a teacher?

There are several educators in my family, including my mother, who has been an educator for more than 20 years. I love the idea of paying it forward for our young people—that’s a big motivating factor for me.

Why did you choose to apply for Baltimore City Teaching Residency?

Prior to attending Baltimore City Teaching Residency (BCTR), I taught at four different middle schools and because of that, I had a chance to experience the gamut of educational options that the city provides students. By the time I became a principal, I found myself feeling confined by the idea of only impacting the students in my classroom. I began to ask myself “how do you impact the classroom next door? How do you allocate resources and structures to support a wide gamut of students? And most importantly, how do you empower other people?” That’s why I wanted to become a principal.

What was your pre-service training experience like, and how did it prepare you for the classroom?

We were based at Western High School, an all-girls public school, and I started out there teaching summer school history. There were five of us in the classroom, and we would teach on a rotation, with the rest of us observing and taking notes. I remember every day of pre-service training—we’d get up, put on a shirt and tie, go to Western, go to Digital Harbor, do our coursework, go home, and study!

What support from your coach was the most valuable?

BCTR really grounded me in content knowledge and pedagogy. It also grounded me in instructional practices that directly affect student achievement. Those things still resonate with me today in my work with students and with BCTR residents as a cultural skill-building instructor during training. So BCTR continues to shape the way I see and approach teacher leadership.

What advice would you give someone who is applying to Baltimore City Teaching Residency?

At the end of the day, you’re not just teaching a curriculum, you’re touching lives. That’s what BCTR does. When you teach here in Baltimore City, you become a part of a ripple effect that disrupts the inequities we know affect so many children, especially Black and Brown children. As you lean into the lessons you learned at BCTR, you gain the skills that will help you influence thousands of students over the course of your career. Make no mistake, you will be challenged. But through BCTR, you will learn the importance of professionalism and become part of something that is so much bigger than you.