Tiescheka Stuart

Tiescheka Stuart  |  Roosevelt STAY Opportunity Academy

2023 Youth Champion of the Year Award Honoree

Tiescheka Stuart

She’s worked in kitchens, hotels, and countless classrooms. She’s taught children and adults with a range of disabilities, needs, and circumstances. She’s created programs, partnerships, and organizations. Behind everything Tiescheka Stuart does is one goal–make sure each individual she encounters possesses the resources, support system, and love they need to become the best possible versions of themselves. 

Stuart’s motto is simple: “If I'm able to positively impact a life, I will do whatever it takes.”

Raised in the Bahamas by a family of teachers, nurses, and police officers, Stuart came to the United States in 1998  to study hospitality and tourism management after completing the chef apprenticeship program at the University of the Bahamas. Following four years of restaurant management  at a four-star hotel in Chicago, she became a special education teaching assistant. Throughout her life, Stuart has cultivated and often combined both vocations. She recently launched More than Enough Center for Learning, a nonprofit focused on financial literacy, entrepreneurship, career readiness, and life skills for young people from underserved communities.

When Stuart returned to the Bahamas in 2007 to teach hospitality and tourism studies to high school students, she discovered few experiential learning opportunities were available. She created a hospitality club through which students volunteered at a hospital, worked with senior citizens, and cleaned up beaches. Stuart spearheaded a partnership with the University of  the Bahamas for high school students to hone skills in their areas of interest by working with local organizations.

Later, Stuart moved to DC to continue working with children with special needs. She then transitioned to teaching at a hospitality-focused charter school, where she brought students to an annual competition where they demonstrated skills such as housekeeping, engineering, and human resources. Next, Stuart became program coordinator at the National Children’s Center, where she introduced adults with intellectual disabilities to the hospitality industry, formed partnerships with local businesses for employment and training, and coached students to victory in competitions against college students. 

Success can be measured in many ways, though, and Stuart’s next job demonstrated that when she taught life skills to students with severe disabilities. One element of her role was family engagement, and during her first year the number of involved families soared from three to 100. Stuart found ways for her students to showcase their progress to their families, and helped families gain deeper understanding of how to care for and work with their children. 

Now at Roosevelt STAY Opportunity Academy, Stuart works with students ages 16 to 22 seeking an alternative to traditional high school. Roosevelt STAY offers career and technology education pathways such as cosmetology and early childhood education as well as the general academics required for a high school diploma. Classes are offered in person and virtually so students can work or care for family as needed. Some students are parenting and some come to Roosevelt STAY through the justice system. The staff makes sure every student knows they are valued. “We band together to support students and make sure they finish school, taking care of them so they feel loved and supported.” Stuart said. “We’re giving them opportunities to discover who they are so they can be better for themselves and their communities.”

Stuart started a SkillsUSA club to expose students to careers in trade, technical, and skilled service occupations. At a recent competition, all of Stuart’s students earned first or second place. Roosevelt STAY was the only DCPS school to earn the Quality Chapter Excellence award. Her students will compete in June at the national level in areas such as interviewing, business planning, and customer service. Stuart also created a partnership with Build, through which four students successfully launched their own businesses, including an apparel line, a candle business, a landscaping service, and a line of  safety accessories designed by a woman for women who experienced  domestic violence.

“I look at my students and I know they deserve more,” Stuart said. “If I see an opportunity, I won't stop until I achieve it.”

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