KIPPster spotlight on D’Antay Mayes, Social Studies Teacher, KIPP St. Louis
To launch our KIPPster spotlight series, we caught up with D’Antay Mayes to find out why he started teaching, what brought him to KIPP St. Louis, and what his students might know about him that his friends do not.
Quick background on Mr. Mayes:
Position Title: 5th & 6th Grade Social Studies Teacher for KIPP Inspire Academy
How long have you been with KIPP? Since 2010
What did you do right before KIPP? Taught in the Pattonville, MO school district and before that was a Youth Specialist with the Missouri Department of Social Services Youth Division
What college or university did you attend? Missouri Baptist University
Can you tell us about the moment you decided you wanted to be a teacher?
Informally, I knew I wanted to be a teacher when I began kindergarten. I enjoyed exploring learning so much but wanted to involve others in what I had learned. Sharing knowledge has always been in my blood.
Formally, I knew I wanted to be a teacher when I had the privilege of being a student of one of my most challenging history professors, who rekindled my love for the discipline.
Can you tell us about your favorite teacher?
I have a favorite elementary teacher, Mrs. Weible, who always wore a gold leaf necklace. If I had been particularly difficult, she would turn the gold leaf over and say, “D’Antay, this is your mistake. Let’s turn over a new leaf and work on doing better.” I appreciate that gesture and think of it often when I make a mistake or someone lets me down. There was so much grace in that action for a fifth grade boy.
What is your biggest source of motivation throughout the school day?
There is no one source of motivation for me during the school day. It is a collective source of motivation that has roots in my unwavering faith in the value of what my team and family and I share with our students: civic responsibility, academic muscle, and character development of the self and community.
How did you find out about KIPP St. Louis and what made you apply?
I remember, shortly after graduating from high school  I heard about the work that Dave and Mike were doing. I thought, “Hmm, this sounds revolutionary and inspiring.”
Fast forward, as I began my journey as an educator, working in various capacities in the St. Louis area (I am a native of rural Jefferson County, just south of St. Louis) I grew jaded by the educational climate that existed. My position at a city school was being merged with the ELA department and I would no longer be needed. I attended a teacher fair at UMSL and met Andrea Turner, our school’s assistant school leader.
What made me apply were my vision and beliefs about high quality education and its ability to change how all people, not just the less fortunate, think about their responsibilities as citizens and contributors to humanity. I saw a joy for this and the possibilities for even greater things in the KIPP literature and videos. Meeting with Jeremy, the school leader sealed the deal, I was hooked. The rest is history!
Where do you see the Class of 2019 when they are 25?
I see the Class of 2019 as a group of young professionals driven by passion and conviction in their chosen paths. I see these beautiful young people shaking up the status quo and challenging the question of what is possible. Specifically, I see these young people being more civic-minded than many of their contemporaries because of their shared experiences at KIPP Inspire Academy, and the lessons learned within the social studies classroom. Every day, I see the faces of future world changers:)
What do your students know about you that your friends do not?
My students know that I like some of their music but I would not admit it to my friends.
To learn more about teaching at KIPP, click here. >
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