Team Strong: Teaching and Leading at Ánimo Compton

Anton Blakely

As a college student, life as a teacher had never crossed Anton Blakely’s mind. 

It was not until his senior year of college when he helped a close friend with a writing project that his passion for teaching ignited. “I love English, and teaching it seemed like the right thing to do. I never expected it to become my passion,” Blakely said. “I had no idea what it took to be a teacher, but I thought, I would do what my teacher did for me, and, well, it worked.” 

Blakely, who started his teaching career in 1998, quickly learned that teaching is a symbiotic process. “ I need my students and my students need me. I need to be able to teach, but at the same time I need to be able to learn—and I need to learn from my students,” Blakely said. “I need to learn from them to hone my craft, to get better at teaching, to be adaptable to meet their needs. It’s a relationship where we give and take.” 

Blakely joined Ánimo Compton Charter School in 2019 as an English teacher. “We’re a very tight community. You get to know people,” Blakely said. “You really get that feeling when you come here that we genuinely care about our students.” Ánimo Compton is home to a team of mission driven school leaders who encourage academic excellence, resilience, and team building. “My admin team is flat-out stellar. They find ways to be personable, they find excitement, passion, and enthusiasm, right here at our school.” 

Dr. Chaleese Norman, the principal at Ánimo Compton, lauded Blakely for his eagerness to collaborate, lead, and learn. “I admire Mr. Blakely’s desire and willingness to build our students, connect with them, and be a positive role model for them. He’s a real team player,” Norman said. Constantly thinking about the school community, Blakely has made it a mission to always put students first. Kristina Brubaker, the assistant principal at Ánimo Compton described Blakely as an integral member of the school community who is both reflective and humble. “Blakely volunteers his time and energy freely, always going above and beyond in service of our kids. He runs student government and serves on our Instructional Leadership Team.” 

Teaching in Distance Learning

When Covid-19 forced school districts to make the shift to virtual learning environments, Blakely had to reimagine traditional classroom methodology. Green Dot curriculum specialists worked with educators to develop new digital strategies to engage students in distance learning environments. “At the beginning of distance learning, I was opposed to it. I’m old school: pen and paper,” Blakely said. “Now, I’m of the mindset where there are aspects of virtual learning that I think will forever be embedded in my classroom, simply because of what you can do with technology. You can integrate old school with the new school.” 

Amid distance learning, teachers across our network of schools have adapted new technology to connect with students and build interactive lessons. Blakely integrated tools such as Google Classroom, Flocabulary, and Nearpod to make his courses more accessible. Even in hybrid classrooms, teachers continue to use these tools to help students develop subject mastery across their English Language and mathematics courses.

“Considering distance learning, Mr. Blakely has grown a lot this year,” Norman said. “Distance learning has been a challenge, he has coaching weekly but he takes the feedback and he's working with it to make himself stronger,” she added.

At Green Dot Public Schools, our teachers are integral in preparing our students for college, leadership, and life. Our school leadership teams work with teachers to cultivate a culture of excellence in every classroom. Together, we remain committed to helping students triumph over adversity and realize their true potential.