Throughout her career, Natasha Trivers has evaluated her environment to see what can be made better. This mindset toward improvement ranges from her English classroom, where she spent nine years teaching at Academy of the Pacific Rim in Boston, to an entire school when she served as assistant principal and principal at Democracy Prep Charter High School, to across a national school network as superintendent and now interim CEO of Democracy Prep Public Schools. Her drive to improve systems is a hallmark of her leadership.
“My principal [in Boston] who was also a good friend, called me the ‘whistleblower’ lovingly, which meant I was always in her face about what was wrong with the school and what we needed to fix,” said Natasha.
Natasha has never lost that spirit, and she brings that same mindset to her work at Democracy Prep. Recently, she stepped into the role of interim CEO. Though it is a daunting task, Natasha is excited to help an organization that has been her professional home for eight years.
“Any time I’ve taken any leadership position, from grade level chair to assistant principal on up, there is that imposter syndrome, ‘I don’t know if I can do this. Why do other people think that I can do this?’ kind of a ‘freak out’ moment,” said Natasha. “But then pretty quickly, I get really energized by the reality that I now have some agency to make some decisions to better the organization that I love so much.”
Being interim CEO has given her insight into new areas of the organization.
“I’ve always only thought about things on the academic side of the house,” said Natasha. “This interim position is a new frontier because you’re [also] thinking about all of the systems and finances and everything that allows us to be sustainable as an organization. There is a weight to that. It’s going to make me be a better superintendent because I’ve seen the other sides of the house, so to speak.”
Being a woman, but especially being a Black woman in multiple leadership roles means that Natasha has to navigate additional barriers in the workplace.
“I think being a Black woman in the work does bring its challenges,” said Natasha. “Whether that’s what’s going on in my own psyche, in my own mental narrative, or actual microaggressions or other things that are happening external to me. It’s part of working with human beings from all different kinds of racial backgrounds and different identities, but I think it is important to speak [about] it, and I think representation is important and honesty is important.”
Before she joined Democracy Prep, Natasha was looking at several charter schools to decide where she wanted to work as a leader, but DP stood out.
“I think what really drew me to Democracy Prep was the balance of autonomy and framework,” said Natasha. “Once I was on the ground at DP as an assistant principal, it felt like I really had reign to be creative and think of different ways of doing things, whereas with other networks I was looking at, it felt a little more prescribed, like, ‘There’s this one way of doing things and we need to plug you in and have you do it this way.’”
Even though she believes being a principal is the best job in the world, there are exciting opportunities that come with moving into roles like superintendent and more recently, interim CEO. She has a larger say in determining Democracy Prep’s ethos as we continue to expand.
“What excites me most about the future is really figuring out rigor in each new region and figuring out what it means to be college-ready in every region,” said Natasha. “Because states have different guidelines and benchmarks, we need to make sure there’s one Democracy Prep benchmark that sort of transcends state regulations and state benchmarks, and state assessments.”
Natasha remains passionate about maintaining a high academic standard for all scholars while also exploring ways to allow students to express their individuality.
“If we have really well-prepared kids who are going to the exact college they want to go to, and are willing to take over our cafeteria and do a protest based on something they believe or find some other way to use their voice, that to me would epitomize success,” said Natasha.
Whether she’s in Boston or the Bronx, Natasha’s whistleblowing continues to reshape and refine educational spaces for the better. And, as Natasha continues leading an organization that she loves so much, she excitedly watches Democracy Prep grow and educate our future generation of whistleblowers.