Dr. Tequilla Brownie Women’s Black History Month Spotlight Feature

Dr. Tequilla Brownie is the CEO of TNTP. She oversees TNTP’s executive team and all aspects of the organization’s operations, strategy, and growth. Her work focuses on improving local and national student outcomes and disrupting educational inequities to ensure all students are afforded an opportunity to be successful. Dr. Tequilla Brownie serves on several local and national boards including Stand for Children, ForwARd Arkansas, The MindTrust, KIPP Delta School Board, and Memphis Seeding Success. The spotlight feature is written from her experience of being a former school social worker.

What or who inspired you to become a teacher/school social worker?

When I was young, my mother fell ill and my grandparents became my primary caregivers. Everything I knew changed in an instant. During that traumatic time, Jane Bell became my social worker. She never treated me like just another case. Instead, she continually advocated for me, breaking through false walls between systems. It was her example and support that led me to become a school social worker and devote my life to making sure all young people have the same access to support and opportunities I had.

What advice would you share with a future Black teacher?

Hold young people to high expectations. Research shows that educators of color are more likely to engage students of color with high expectations – which was true for me.

Back when I first entered Kindergarten, I chose to go by my nickname because it was only four letters. When my teacher, Ms. Young, found out, she raised the bar and refused to let me take the easy way out. Even at five years old, I understood she had high expectations of me, and I leveled up accordingly. That early foundation of high expectations was instrumental to my academic success as a student for years to come.