Jamila Banks ’90
She cherishes the positive encouragement she received at Crossroads to be courageous in pursuing her interests.
Long before becoming a teacher, Jamila Banks ’90 absorbed her experiences at Crossroads like a sponge. She nurtured a love of Spanish; took inspiring science classes and memorable Environmental and Outdoor Education trips; joined the 21st Street Singers; and participated in track and field, basketball and volleyball, later earning induction into the Crossroads Athletics Hall of Fame.
During her time at Howard University, she studied abroad as a junior at the Center for Bilingual Multicultural Studies in Cuernavaca, Mexico. She had ample support from Rebeca Ana-Bailey, her Spanish teacher at Crossroads.
Her career in education began alongside Rebeca, teaching kindergarten in a dual-immersion language program at Weigand Avenue Elementary School in Los Angeles. She then transitioned into a teaching position in a bilingual program at Loreto Street Elementary School, where she received a national Educator Award from the Milken Family Foundation. Later, she worked part-time as a university field supervisor for the UCLA Department of Education to provide support to students pursuing teaching credentials and master’s degrees in education.
It was around this time that Jamila had a son, Crossroads alumnus Xavier Carr ’17, who currently attends the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena. Jamila shares, “[The job at UCLA] allowed me to continue working in the field of education while providing time with my son during his primary years. When Xavier was ready to attend preschool, I returned to teaching full-time at La Salle Avenue Elementary School in South Los Angeles.”
Since 2012, Jamila has been teaching kindergarten in the dual-immersion Spanish and English program at Edison Language Academy, an award-winning school in Santa Monica. She is on the school leadership team for her grade.
Reflecting on her own education, Jamila says Crossroads impressed upon her the importance of building a positive rapport with students and families. What she cherishes most from her Crossroads experience, she says, is “the positive encouragement I received to be courageous in pursuing my interests, even if they are not the norm.”