All about LaKisha Hoffman @ Caliber: Beta Academy:
I was born and raised in Chicago. While growing up, I went to 7 different schools between kinder and 8th grade and finally had stability in high school. I played a lot of sports in high school, but really stuck more with basketball. I’ve enjoyed working with kids since I was a teenager. Every job I had was always connected with kids- it started with babysitting when I was in high school to working in summer camps and then being a social worker. I don’t know where my passion to work with kids came from, but it happened. I thought this role was perfect because it was related to a lot of experiences I have had from being in the mental health field, being a social worker and even as a coach and athlete in sports. I love working with middle schoolers. The kiddos aren’t so set in their ways that you can still intervene and make an impact. Restorative Justice guides everything I do, from being a step-parent to being a coach and everything in this role. I come from a strict household where fear was the guiding factor and I see how the work I do gets rid of this fear and goes into a path where kids are guided to make better choices without them experiencing punitive repercussions.
What is your favorite thing about Caliber: Beta Academy?
“I really believe my ability to bring in my expertise and personality to make systems that are impactful for our school culture. I also love that we aren’t a school that uses suspension. I have the ability to bring in restorative work, bring teachers the knowledge of a trauma informed classroom. The staff is always open to learning more about SEL and the whole child development and it makes it so much easier to do the work. The students are my favorite part of the job, even the most challenging because I get to see a side of them that they don’t show their peers!”
Tell me more about the work you do as Director of School Culture and SEL Lead?
“I set up our culture system, utilize dean's list; my focus is on the positive. This is huge for me, especially as someone new. One thing I have done is divided our 4 pillars into things that are observable. I aim to make these digestible for kids and staff. One of my big pushes is giving 3 positives for every negative - so if a teacher gave 20 deductions in a week they would have to give out 60 pillar points. We have pillar point parties that the kids look forward to and motivates them to only bring positive!”
What is one of your favorite memories with the students @ Bet Upper School?
“Even though I am a warm but strict nurturer, I think kids see me as someone they listen to and respect. I will advocate for them, but not when they are out of line. I genuinely enjoy spending time with them, we play Jenga in one on one sessions, ball during recess, a lot of cool things that allow me to learn about them. It’s an accumulation of all the little things I do as I get to balance being a clinician and being responsible for behavior interventions! I enjoy all my interactions with the kids.”
What is one fun fact that most people don't know about you?
“I am a nationally ranked women’s flag football player!”