550,000 Member, close-up of Tamika in classroom

Meet First Book’s 550,000th member: NYC educator Tamika

This summer, Tamika made First Book history by becoming the 550,000th educator to join the First Book Network. A teacher at a middle school in the New York public school system, Tamika attended a Reading Opens the World book give-away held in the Bronx by the United Federation of Teachers, an affiliate of the national American Federation of Teachers. There, she not only got hundreds of books for her school, she also learned more about First Book.

“I am all about equity, and while I had heard about First Book, seeing the partnership between First Book and the union reminded me to go sign up to get connected with everything that First Book offers.”

Tamika had extra reason to attend the book give-away event, because this coming school year she is serving as her school’s Dean of Culture.

“I am student-centered first and foremost and I am challenging students to read at least 700,000 words by the end of the year; preferably one book per month – a book that is strictly for pleasure; books that students choose and read for fun.”

To support that challenge, Tamika left the Reading Opens the World book give-away after cramming her car with books. “The trunk was filled, the back seat – everything was filled so that I can bring books for the whole school. I got books from the Kane Chronicles series and the Percy Jackson series and Disney books and more.”

When school starts on September 8, Tamika will experience what she calls her full circle moment. After teaching social studies in charter schools for six years, this will be her first full year teaching back in the New York public education system. “All my life I have benefitted from public education – from my earliest days right through high school and college. My daughter attends public school and I am so happy to be back in the New York public education system that taught me so much.

“I was the very first of my mother’s children to complete a four-year college degree. I had to get beyond what people told me – that college was too hard; that it wasn’t for someone like me; that it would be too scary. Today, I use that experience to tell my students, ‘Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. There is a lot of misinformation out there in the world. Separate the facts from feelings, and then make your own decisions.’”

As a new First Book member, Tamika not only brings more books and resources to her school, her very presence and participation strengthens the entire First Book community. Through built-in feedback loops, focus groups, surveys and online actions, Tamika and her fellow First Book educators add their voice to shape First Book’s work to support them, including informing the books and educational resources we offer.

As part of a five-year scaling plan, First Book will be working to reach 100% of Title I and Title I eligible schools in the nation, building First Book’s market strength so that the needs of educators at under-resourced schools and programs become an even more powerful force to drive educational equity.

So welcome, welcome, Tamika! We are so happy that you have added your voice to fuel learning at your New York middle school and beyond!

Join Our Network 

Educators can join First Book’s Network — the largest and fastest growing network of educators, schools, and programs serving children in need across the United States and Canada — to bring new resources and supplies to the classroom.