Keonna Knight is very passionate about educating young children. It all began when she was in the fifth grade at John B. Cary Elementary School. She realized how important education was to having a better future. Her best friend Rayonna’s mother was a counselor at the school. “She really tried to instill in both of us … that it’s very important to do your best.”
The senior at Richmond Community High School now looks towards the future. Keonna’s top three choices for college are Vanderbilt, Temple and Drexel University. She wants to attend Vanderbilt because she said it has the top education program in the country. “I know I would have that accessibility to really great professors,” she said. She also added that Nashville, where the university is located, is a city she would love to live in. Drexel and Temple University, both located in Pennsylvania, are in her top three because she “would love to help the public school system and be a teacher there.”
Traveling out of the state has always been a priority for Keonna. She said that her dream job would be to someday be able to teach during the actual school year in fall, winter and spring; then in the summer travel abroad and teach English in foreign countries. “I mostly want to travel because I’ve never really had the money to travel to any place outside of the country,” she said. “I really haven’t been far, besides Chicago on a school trip, so I just want to experience more things that I’ve never done,” she said. Among her top destinations, Keonna said she would like to go to Guatemala, Peru and India.
Keonna’s passion for teaching and traveling ultimately comes from those she wants to teach: the children. Working at the West End Boys and Girls Club, she said the children have had an impact on her. “Just looking back and seeing how enjoyable my experience has been with the kids, how much they’ve impacted me. Their energy and being able to be a positive influence for them really has impacted me a lot in trying to be a better person,” Keonna said.
This outlook on teaching was influenced not by people, but by life experience. “I think my inspiration has been more of (me) trying to get away from negative things. I knew education would help me go to college and get away from whatever’s going on and do better things than what I’m surrounded by. So, it’s more than having a positive person, it’s been more like negative circumstances or whatever is going on.” She said that if she completes college, she’s going to be the first in her family to do so; which is more of a reason for her to keep working hard.
Her ultimate goal, aside from going to college and teaching children, is to fix the way in which teachers interact with kindergarten children so that they can make their learning experience better. “I would just like to see the teachers more involved with the students. I haven’t really been in the classroom since then (kindergarten), but just from what I’ve seen with the students at the Boys and Girls Club … I just feel like there’s a lack of relationship in the classroom,” Keonna said. “That’s what I would like to do: try to create relationships and bonds with every student as much as possible.”