Rai Bolden is a proud transplant to the city of New Orleans. A veteran teacher raised by an artistic mother, stoic grandmother and a impenetrable village of aunties, uncles and friends in Memphis, Tennessee – home of the blues and rock and roll!
Rai graduated from Hampton University in Virginia with a degree in Marketing and received her Masters in Teaching and Learning from Louisiana College in Pineville. A certified ELA teacher with over 17 years of experience in traditional public and charter schools in major bustling U.S. cities from Houston, Texas to Harlem, NY, Rai has spent her career as a public servant.
A proponent of equitable and competitive educational opportunities for all children, Rai has worked on the front lines in schools promoting education for the whole child and has passionately advocated on behalf of families to make schools accountable to the communities they serve. Rai created and directed an in-school Arts Program at KIPP STAR in Harlem – a model for programs across the network. She has made teaching children about their history a cornerstone of her teaching philosophy and is a staunch supporter of culturally relevant pedagogy across all academic areas.
One of her greatest passions is writing, and it is her daily goal to make words come alive for the children whom she teaches. “I teach in schools in communities like the communities that nourished me. It is my belief and duty to serve children and families to aid in developing strong thinkers, passionate advocates and creative leaders who are also dedicated to reaching back and building up! I am a Big Class cheerleader because it is a resource that encourages each child it touches to become his/her own movement.”
Baty Landis is a New Orleans native who is passionate about writing, and especially functional writing: She wrote and edited travel guides for Fodor's Travel Publications and Lonely Planet for 10 years. Baty holds degrees in Music from UC Berkeley and Princeton University and has worked in the arts in New Orleans for a decade, including through YAYA, Inc., SilenceIsViolence, and Sound Cafe in the Marigny. She is excited to be a part of Big Class's new capital project to create a Youth Writing Center in the Seventh Ward and hopes the Center will become a hub of creative energies serving all of New Orleans. Baty currently lives in Mid-City with her husband and three children and is very involved as a volunteer at her children's school, Morris Jeff Community School.