Alumni Spotlight: A Q&A with Traci Cheatham
Q: Why did you decide to pursue your current career as a children’s book author after the corps?
As a middle school teacher in the Las Vegas Valley, I have noticed a need for our youth to feel celebrated and the lack of representation in contemporary educational literature is disappointing. Through Casmalia Street, a multi-series literary company, we’re able to help bridge the diversity gap in children’s literature and showcase storylines that any child can relate to.
Q: Describe your role or a passion project specific to serving the black community.
As an avid yogi, I’m currently going through a teacher-training program with the intention to open a yoga studio where I can teach restorative justice to youth through mindfulness.
Q: What is the most challenging aspect of your current role? What is the most rewarding?
Work-life balance. Being both a teacher and author requires a ton of time and emotional investment. On the other hand, the return on that investment is ongoing, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s energizing to know that just one life is being changed or made better along the way, which seems to always outweigh the challenges.
Q: What was the biggest lesson you learned as a Teach For America—Las Vegas Valley corps member that relates to this topic and that you still carry with you?
One of the lessons that I learned as a Teach For America—Las Vegas Valley corps member that still holds true is that if you focus on the work, the results will follow. Life will throw a million different distractions at you, and it is so easy to lose focus of the big picture. However, there will always be work to do, and if you are doing work that you find valuable, and fulfilling everything will work itself out.
Q: What do you enjoy most about being a teacher in Las Vegas Valley?
Teaching is such an important job, and the ultimate reward is being able to impact children each and every day once you step foot into the classroom - it’s priceless.
Q: What is the number one thing you want our readers to know about you and your dedication to positively impacting your community?
I’m so grateful that I have a chance to positively impact our community by cultivating a lifelong love of reading with our young readers. Through Casmalia Street, my goal is to normalize diverse experiences, while challenging children between the ages of 3 to 7 to dream big and take pride in their cultures and heritage.