Victoria Dunn is dedicated to the mission of Teach for America (TFA), a national corps of leaders who commit to teaching in low-income schools and work to increase their students' opportunities in life. As a biology teacher and girls’ basketball coach at Hogan Prep Academy in Kansas City, she works every day to “grow and strengthen the movement for educational equity and excellence.”
For Dunn, though, it’s less about the mission of TFA than it is about the individual students in her classroom and making sure they are empowered and equipped to succeed in the world beyond high school.
“The students and athletes are the best part of my job,” said Dunn, who is currently pursuing a master’s degree in secondary education from UMKC. “I have the privilege of working with a resilient group of individuals who are constantly challenging me to be my best.”
Part of Dunn’s “best” involves encouraging the “best” in each of her students. She sets high standards for them in the classroom, on the court and in life and refuses to let them settle for less than what they are capable of achieving. However, nothing she ever asks of her kids is less than anything she’d first ask of herself.
“I strive to set an example for my students by practicing what I teach,” said Dunn, a graduate of North Central College in Naperville, Ill. “Students recognize that I’m pushing them to be their best and wouldn’t ask anything of them that I’m not certain they can achieve. This builds trust between us as they embrace any struggles we face, knowing we will all come out stronger in the end.”
Dunn’s encouragement of her students already has resulted in some realizing their dreams of going to college and others developing an untapped love for science and biology due to their affirming, challenging teacher.
“Tori always seeks to understand ways in which she could do better for her students and players and will do anything to help them get where they want to in life,” said fellow TFA corps member Erin Kautz, who teaches at Kansas City’s Ewing Marion Kauffman School. “She is a woman who is driven by working with diversity and discovering ways to be culturally responsive in her teaching practice. And she’s helped me come up with creative ways to help my students feel included in my classroom and like they have voices in their lives.”
In an effort to recognize Dunn for her commitment to the Hogan Prep students and student-athletes, Kautz nominated Dunn for recognition as a Blue KC Sporting Samaritan. And from a pool of quality nominees, Dunn was selected as the honoree for the month of June.
“Victoria Dunn is a wonderful example of the kind of educators we are working to spotlight through the Blue KC Sporting Samaritan program,” said Blue KC Department Vice President of Marketing Communications Christina Lively. “We’re thrilled that Erin took the time to nominate her, as it’s clear that she truly makes Kansas City a better place to live, work and play by inspiring her students to work hard and achieve their goals. We hope others throughout Kansas City will go online and nominate more outstanding teachers and students so that we can continue to honor those in our community who are making a significant impact and inspiring others to do the same.”
To nominate a teacher or student to be a Blue KC Sporting Samaritan, visit https://www.sportingkc.com/bluekc.