Alumni Changemakers

Laniesha Gray ’00: Education as a Counter-Narrative

Steppingstone 2000 / The Park School 2003 / Melrose High School 2006 / Columbia College 2010 / Northeastern University 2013 / Boston College (Ed.D candidate, 2022)

In a world desperately in need of hope, Laniesha Gray ’00 gratefully finds it every day in her students’ dreams of a more just world.

As part of the leadership team at the Shady Hill School, “I work with students who are going to be the next generation of changemakers,” she says. “They’re not satisfied with the state of things, and that means the world to me.”

Even in challenging times, the possibility of leading transformational change energizes her. As a leader, she prides herself on being resilient and resourceful. “And I always try to lead with joy,” she says, adding that, for children of color, joy can be “revolutionary.”

From her vantage point, Laniesha has seen the ongoing pandemic and national reckoning with racism force educators to think deeply about their own practices and priorities and connect across differences. “I’m a connector and always trying to bring people together,” she says.

“I see education as a means to liberate and as a gateway to reimagine realities for students from historically marginalized communities.”

She credits her own teachers with starting her on the path to a career that embraces all of her passions. Serving as a teaching assistant and summer intern for Steppingstone in her days as a Scholar nurtured a budding interest. After college, she first taught at The Park School, her alma mater, and later “came home” to teach English at The Steppingstone Academy. Now as Middle School Director of Student Life at Shady Hill, she draws on her wealth of experience in different school settings.

Laniesha with Scholars in a past Steppingstone summer on the teaching staff

Her personal philosophy beautifully aligns with Steppingstone’s: “I see education as a means to liberate and as a gateway to reimagine realities for students from historically marginalized communities.”

Reflecting on her Steppingstone experience, “the access and opportunity are what I’ve always appreciated most,” she says. “It opened so many doors.” After graduating from Park and then Melrose High School, she went on to Columbia College before earning her M.Ed. at Northeastern. Now pursuing her doctorate at Boston College, she sees her own education as a “counter-narrative.”

She realizes, too, what it meant to Scholars’ families. “There was a level of personal investment that our families had in the program and that the program had in us.”

Growing up in her Dorchester neighborhood, “I had no idea what I didn’t know,” she says. Looking back, “the greatest gift that Steppingstone ever gave me was confidence.” From a very young age, it also gave her a sense of purpose.

Today, true to her values, “community and justice are at the heart of what I do,” she says. “My 10-year-old self wouldn’t be surprised,” she smiles to add.