Upper School students had the opportunity to hear from actor, writer, and educator Steven Tejada on March 10 as part of the school’s Distinguished Speaker Series and luncheon. Mr. Tejada has toured schools, universities, and TED talks throughout the country with his one-man show, “Boogie Down Journeys,” which focuses on the powerful experiences of people of color. He is currently the Upper School Head at Maret School in Washington, DC, and serves on the Board of Directors of De La Salle Academy, an independent school for academically talented, economically disadvantaged students. He is also a faculty member of a national think tank and advisory council on diversity issues for the National Association of Independent Schools.
Mr. Tejada delivered a 30-minute excerpt from his show, focusing on a monologue from the perspective of a South Bronx teenager seeing his childhood friend go off to attend private college in Connecticut. Afterward, he answered students’ questions about his process, including the development of semi-biographical characters and maintaining focus on stage. His complex characters, for example, have evolved over 20 years to incorporate current events. “These monologues are not simply about race or poverty,” he told students, “they are about telling interesting stories about people and opportunities.”
In this video
, Mr. Tejada talks about the one thing he wants students to take away from his presentation.
Ranney’s Upper School Distinguished Speaker Series, made possible by the generosity of a Ranney school family, is aimed at providing students with an opportunity to think forward and to grasp hold of traditional as well as new subjects through unique, personal, and international perspectives. Previous guests have included Poetry Slam Champion Clint Smith, New Yorker Cartoonist Matthew Diffee, Professional Endurance Athlete Colin O’Brady, and Motivational Speaker Josh Shipp. Up next is Alix Generous, speaking to students in April 2017. Ms. Generous, who also has given TED Talks, stresses the importance of building accepting environments for all kinds of minds.
More about Steven Tejada
His “Boogie Down Journeys” show combines comedy, drama, and real emotions to discover stories of struggle, survival, love, and laughter. The monologues are reflections on personal journeys from the streets of the South Bronx to the boulevards of exclusive worlds. He has performed and spoken at venues throughout the country, including institutions such as Yale University, Boston University, Museum of the City of New York, Bates College, Cornell University, Providence College, Concord Academy, The Dwight-Englewood School, The Agnes Irwin School, The Winsor School, The Collegiate School, The Dalton School, and many others.
Mr. Tejada was a keynote speaker at the 2016 Young Men of Color Symposium, the 2014 Tedx Spence conference, the 2013 AISNE Student of Color Conference, the 2012 Elementary School Heads Association Conference, the 2009 NYC Hilltop Diversity Conference, and a featured speaker at the 2007 NAIS People of Color Conference.
He previously served as Dean of Diversity Initiatives, as well as Acting Provost, Assistant Head of Upper School, and Associate Dean of Students, at the Noble and Greenough School.View our Distinguished Speaker Series playlist on YouTube.