Hey world! I’m Amara…
The journey began in Chicago, IL.
Became a sister!
I became a sister! My face may not show it but I was (and still am) extremely happy to have a younger sister!
Relocated to Upstate New York
My family went from the big city to a small college town in New York.
Excelling academically especially in mathematics
In second grade, I started to realize that I had academic talents. Ms. Lyons, one of two Black teachers I had started to invest more deeply into my learning. She pushed me in a way that built confidence in me. Also, she would braid my hair on weekends and I thought I was too fly!
In middle school doing high school things
My 7th grade teacher, Ms. Mueler realized I was incorrectly placed in my mathematics class. With her help, I was promoted into 9th grade math the following year where I excelled tremendously.
Basketball…sure why not? I’m tall.
After playing 7th grade basketball for 8 months, I made the varsity basketball team. I found a love for sports, physical movement and being a leader.
New millennium and new high school
My 10th grade year I transferred to a new high school and joined a state ranked basketball team. I learned that my previous style of play needed an upgrade. However, I loved the challenge it presented in my life.
Engineering? Sure, I like math and science.
Boston here I come!
I enrolled at Northeastern University. I was surprised that engineering was not very diverse. Of 440 students, 70 were women and only 4 of us were Black. Those three women and I created a bond through the adversity of our experiences and remain great friends today.
I joined Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) to find community and support. Both organizations I held executive board positions.
June 2007- May 2008
Goodbye engineering…Hello teaching!
In the summer of 2007-2008, I realized engineering was not for me. I loved the intellectual stimulus it gave me but I wanted a career that was more mission driven.
I had always wanted to become a math teacher. I applied and was accepted as a Teach For America corps member in Charlotte, NC. A week after my college graduation, I drove a U-Haul from Boston to Charlotte with my mom.
August 2008 - June 2012
Whew! Teaching is no joke!
I embarked on a new journey as an Algebra 1 teacher at Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology. I implemented a tiered lesson structure, tested students weekly, analyzed student assessment results, and utilized data to improve my instructional practices.
Through repetition, reinforcing difficult material and retesting, 97% of my Algebra 1 students met proficiency levels exceeding the district (74.4%) and state (67.7%) average..
The challenge When I started at Phillip O. Berry, the Algebra 1 student proficiency was below 49% due to a shortage of math teachers. 85% of my students had failed Algebra 1 the previous year. Students were behind grade-level, frustrated and sick of being failed by the system. Oh and I had 90 days to improve scores, attitudes and math proficiency. I had to get creative.
The outcome: We saw 97% of Algebra I students become proficient in first year of teaching, exceeding the district (74.7%) and state (67.7%) averages, average student proficiency grew to 90% exceeding the district average of 84%, and
increased school-wide proficiency from 49% to 88% in 3 years.
April 2013 - July 2013
Building culture with adults
I began to coach new teachers and learn how to transfer the skills I learned in the classroom to adult learners.
By creating a safe space for learners to share their celebrations, fears, strengths and growth areas, I cultivated the teaching training experience for 15 new Teach for America corps members for 5 regions across the United States.
The challenge As a corps member advisor (CMA), we are tasked with providing the best teacher training for adults with no educational background in a five week period. As a CMA, I had to teach my 15 corps members how to efficiently write and execute a lesson plan, develop positive relationships with their students and analyze student data. In addition, I conducted weekly classroom observations and post-observation conversations.
The outcome: I analyzed instructional gaps through classroom observation and lesson plan review to create tailored professional development opportunities for my corps members. I achieved 100% effectiveness score which exceeded the program’s average of 82%
Back to the East Coast!
I decided to move closer to my family. Hello Brooklyn! Let’s do this!
August 2013 - June 2016
150 tenth graders in one room
As the Senior Program Manager, I was responsible for the successful completion of 250 students through the program’s tenth grade year.
Over a three year period, I was able to impact 475 students with an average retention rate of 93% by increasing parent contact by more than 50%, implementing a tracker for student conversations, and developing a curriculum for the 10th grade experience.
The challenge When I started in the role, 10th grade had no formal experience for students which led to low student engagement and highest dropout rate in the program. Also, there was minimal parent involvement due to a lack of formal engagement strategies.
The outcome: After analyzing the gaps in the 10th grade program structure, I developed a program calendar for the grade which created a better experience and focus for students. By conducting parents in the beginning and end of their 10th grade year, parent engagement increased by more than 50%. I created a conversation tracker that allowed the 10th grade team to have a pulse on each student’s performance and effectively address any struggling students immediately. With a strategic and analytical approach to this work, I was able to impact 475 students and average a 93% retention rate with three classes of students.
Welcome to Entrepreneurship
I founded Math without Limits, an organization that teaches foundational math skills for students.
In-school math intervention
The school principal was extremely concerned because only 45% of Algebra 1 students projected to pass the state exam. She hired me to develop and implement individualized academic plans to drive their Algebra 1 performance. Through the small group instruction, analysis of student data, 73% of my students demonstrated proficiency on the Algebra 1 state exam.
The challenge The school had a history of poor Algebra 1 performance. The current classroom teacher was struggling with lesson execution and classroom management. After student data analysis, the principal and I created small intervention groups. I broke the lessons into more interactive experiences for students with the help of an online learning platform. This allowed students to focus on their personal needs and create more agency for their learning.
The outcome: The students enrolled in my intervention had an average of 10% growth in Algebra 1. 73% of those students demonstrated proficiency on the Algebra 1 state exam. The school proficiency rate increased to 75% pass rate over three semesters.
August 2020 - present
New venture on the horizon
I began working as the Community Manager for Wholehearted Coaching. Little did I know, this project would pivot my career again.
In this role, I created a way for members to see how the curriculum applied to their day to day interactions.
By creating fun discussion prompts based on the developed curriculum, I have created a community where members feel safe to be vulnerable and open to Shirin’s coaching.
The challenge As with many small business owners, Shirin was doing much of the community engagement on her own. However, after creating curriculum for her members, conducting individual and group coaching calls, she had little bandwidth for the community. The community needed some much needed love.
The outcome: I began creating structures such as a calendar for discussion prompts, reminder call posts and members’ birthdays which kept members more engaged in the community. In addition, I reply to all members’ posts on a daily basis to create a personalized experience for each member. Membership engagement is the highest it has been in Wholehearted Coaching history!
I realized my educational career was not bringing joy in the same way. However, my work with Wholehearted Coaching, experience and organizational skills would be valuable to other entrepreneurs. Amara B Solutions was officially born!
April 2021 - present
Community Experience Manager…that’s right up my alley!
Liz Kimball was looking for a team member to manage her community as well as her organizational structures.
The challenge When I was brought on to the team, Liz’s eye was on growth. However, her current systems were not ready for more members, specifically her onboarding process.
The outcome: By redesigning her membership portal, we created a better onboarding system for both new and old members. We are creating better use of the membership portal with a clearer design. In addition, we have been able to create a resource vault where members can go back and find valuable content for their personal development.