Serving in East Oakland is Personal for Bay Area Native Lindsey Fuller

October 23, 2015

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For Bay Area native Lindsey Fuller, being involved in social justice was part of her family culture growing up. Her mother was a public elementary school teacher for over 40 years, and her father worked with students in youth detention centers and continuation schools throughout his entire career.

"I was raised with an understanding that education is the social justice movement of my generation," said Fuller. "Educational needs for marginalized communities were part of a critical conversation that I knew at a very young age I needed to be involved in."

After receiving her teaching credential from Occidental College in Southern California, Fuller returned to the Bay Area where she accepted a teaching position with Aspire Public Schools in Oakland. During the application process, Fuller recognized that Aspire had a professionalism and accountability that did not exist in traditional public schools.

"There are a lot of educated, motivated individuals applying to teaching positions but they are not hearing back from anyone," Fuller said. "Charters are hiring year round and the process is intellectual and dynamic. And I knew that is where I wanted to work."

Fuller is now in her fourth year with Aspire, where she is able to affect change for her students in and out of the classroom. As the Dean of Students, Fuller utilizes her background as a teacher and leadership abilities to spread best practices across all of Aspire's campuses.

"I was given the autonomy to completely rebuild the system of how we discipline our scholars, particularly our black male students," said Fuller. "In just one year, we were able to lower the suspension rate by over 50%, and I had the support of every staff member, administrator, and parent on campus with my initiatives."

Fuller's new system was so effective, that she is now visiting other Aspire campuses to evaluate their methods of discipline and work with the staff to redesign the systems together.

"I wish that educators in every school were afforded the type of leadership opportunities I've been given," said Fuller.

For Fuller, the opportunity to serve in the East Oakland neighborhood is very personal to her. She wants her own story to inspire students to also get involved in their hometown and be a part of changing the lives of those around them for the better.

"I want to serve as a leader who says to kids that you don't have to escape your community - go experience life, go to college, do internships, then come home because we are the ones who are going to fix our community. We are the change we need, no one is gone to come in and fix it for us."