Wendy Thomas and Thajilah Olaiya

Recorded August 20, 2011 Archived August 20, 2011 42:33 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: DDE000652


Wendy Thomas (47) and Thajilah Olaiya (30) are classroom teachers in Washington D.C. who got to know each other through karate class, and talk about their beginnings as educators and the future of classroom education.

Subject Log / Time Code

Tajilah describes meeting Wendy, and encouraging her to run a triathlon. She’s still trying to get Wendy to do one with her.
Wendy’s parents moved a lot when she was young to get her access to better schools, so as a child it was hard for Wendy to talk about any problems she was having, since she knew how much her parents were sacrificing for her benefit. Thajilah identifies with that feeling too.
Thajilah took gender and ethnic studies courses in college, and through that learned the language and vocabulary to express what she was feeling, and realizing that these were not unique feelings to her.
Discussion of global education, and how to engage students in the world.
Thajilah’s intense conversation with a student who had failed her class, and was in danger of failing it again. Bringing up the statistics about prison rates to the kid.


  • Wendy Thomas
  • Thajilah Olaiya

Recording Location

Teaching for Change

Venue / Recording Kit

Partnership Type



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00:02 Take away.

00:04 My name is 2G Lola. I'm 30 years old today is August 20th 2011 in Washington DC in the teaching for change office and

00:18 This is Wendy Thomas. I'm 47. Today is August 20th, 2011. And where in Washington DC teaching for change and how do I know Tequila tequila and I met in karate we are karate colleagues and coincidentally, we just both happened to be teaches. I don't know how we found out. They were both teachers. Like how did that conversation even start? I know I just remember it was great that there was another female in the class. So you are very smart and friendly and I would hate asking people what they do. So I know that didn't come up that wasn't the introduction. Maybe I asked you maybe because I guess because I moved around to so many different cities cities rub off on me and like is very DC to say, what are you doing coming from, San Francisco?

01:18 I asked you for all the time. I think maybe I was at that particular time. I was incredibly stressed because I was a new teacher. I think you may have had something to do with me saying how stressed I was and then you saying maybe you recognize that crazy. Look that new teachers have us something because then you said maybe what are you do? I know how the conversation started how I was wearing my Triathlon shirt in karate, cuz it's before I bought my Gigi. And you said you would a triathlon. Oh my God, and yeah, you should do I convert you into doing and I can't do it. I'm a teacher and started cycling we have to do nothing.

02:15 That's hilarious. But I mean, I don't know. I think what is Wednesday do I mean Nancy do while she works at Department of Human Services? Okay, that's where I used to work. Okay until I quit and decided I was going to be a teacher and what was the Catalyst for you deciding to be a teacher? So sorry for that is a little strange. So I had been a social worker for almost like 15 years working in different capacities button DC or in America originate from England. I wasn't able to work in Social Work practice. So it's more management. So I sitting in a cubicle and I was managing a team of eight on my boss died. So suddenly I had to become the manager and supervisor and all my stuff for incredibly unhappy so I thought you should have counseled my staff. I realize that everybody was miserable and I didn't want to be

03:15 Miserable person working in a cubicle anymore. So I decide to quit my job and spend some time figuring out what I really wanted to do with my life. I run out of money and then found a part-time teaching job and I kind of liked it. So decided to start a Korean in Korea what made you run out of money to be a little more free myself. I was visiting a few friends, I think about to England that went to Canada. Yeah DC's expensive so, you know, it was hot with children and adults with learning difficulties, and I thought maybe I maybe this is something that I can do cuz it's a little bit of Social Work.

04:15 Part time course in teaching adults ATS Diesel and I was inspired by the teacher. So how about you? Why did you start teaching about well people in my life told me that I should be a teacher right in there like you should be a teacher but I thought no I have to be you know in my mid-50s to be able to be a teacher because I had to live my life and reference experiences and things like that. I didn't want to just teach out of a book or teach up from classes that I've taken. So I was a little hesitant, but then I always did.

04:56 I always had like activism and educational events around me like Take Back the Night helping organizing that working for the safe place in San Francisco State University doing these different activities that was about educating the public and educating my peers and things like of that nature and then living in San Francisco. I started working for Community treatment facility 14 and I was on the school team. So it was a locked facility 24/7 observation and monitoring sorry and I would work one-on-one with kids and

05:38 Something