Celebrating Black History Month: Dr. DeShawn Chapman

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“I felt called to be an educator,” explained Dr. DeShawn Chapman, Education Programs Manager, Parramore Education and Innovation District (PEID), University of Central Florida. Dr. Chapman’s unwavering focus on student success was inspired by a committed family, the students she saw “come alive” through learning, and a relentless desire for change.

Student growth through learning is foundational to student success all along the education continuum. Engaging in an asset-based approach to student learning and asking critical questions about traditional teaching and learning methodology, Dr. Chapman and her colleagues are reimagining student outcomes in one of Orlando’s highest need neighborhoods, Parramore.  “There are a lot of things that we can’t control but we can control education,” said Dr. Chapman. “I believe in the power of education. I believe it can work for everybody, if we take the right approach to serving all students.”

The University of Central Florida in collaboration with Valencia College, Helios Education Foundation, Orange County Public Schools, and Parramore nonprofits and residents is engaged in a collective impact approach to elevating student outcomes in Parramore. The goal is to bring about systemic change that not only provides greater opportunity, but also honors Parramore’s deep and rich African American history. Underlying the work in Parramore is a commitment to collective impact and community collaboration. “By using the voice of educators, nonprofit leaders, and families in Parramore to drive the work, we strive to advance education equity and academic success through community collaboration and local leadership.,” said Dr. Chapman.

Recently, the PEID team worked with senior administrators from Jones High School and Valencia College to understand the current processes and patterns that result in small numbers of Jones High School students taking Dual Enrollment classes at Valencia College. Leaders sought to identify and consider options to increase student awareness about and participation in dual enrollment while at Jones High School and begin the conversation and development process for a pilot initiative to support the post-high school transitions of Jones High School students through dual enrollment. The collaborative effort with Jones High School and Valencia College is anticipated to support efforts to build seamless educational pathways from pre-school-to-PhD by promoting early awareness, preparation and engagement in college while leveraging dual enrollment as a mechanism for college access and academic success.

Although Black History Month is celebrated in February, the contribution of African American leaders is noted all year long. Community and education leaders are making a difference in the postsecondary outcomes and career trajectories of Parramore residents by changing lives through education. “For me Black History is 24-7, 365. I take this opportunity to share all that the Black community is,” said Dr. Chapman.