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Alisha Fairfax ’09: Connecting Shipley’s Black Students and Alumni

Jared Scott Tesler
In establishing The Shipley School’s first alumni affinity group, the Black Alumni Association, Alisha Fairfax ’09 drew upon her relationship building skills as an educator and administrator. Alisha’s goal was to spark a conversation among Shipley’s Black students and alumni about the School’s response to the nationwide racial unrest triggered by the killing of George Floyd—in hopes of reinforcing their ties to the School and to one another.

Previously an English language arts, social studies, and humanities teacher at Center City Public Charter Schools, Alisha currently serves as Vice Principal at KIPP DC, a community of high-performing public schools committed to excellence, equity, and justice. She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and a master’s degree in educational studies, an individualized, interdisciplinary program, from the Johns Hopkins School of Education.

“I shy away from calling myself the leader of the group,” says Alisha, also a member of Shipley’s Alumni Council, who oversees meeting preparation, event planning, and social media management for the Black Alumni Association. “I’m not just at the forefront. I’m doing the work with fellow members. We’re holding hands and moving forward together.”

The heart of that work involves forming a strong support system for Black students at Shipley, including a mentoring program co-chaired by Corinne Gaston ’10, Kareemah Parker ’11, and Jasmine Powell ’18 and collaborating with Hakiem Coles ’07 and Amiyr Jackson ’11 to establish an endowment to support the experience of Black students at Shipley. In the process, Alisha says she has found her own support system in Sharifa Atkins ’89, Adrienne Kenton ’89, and Joy Styles ’92, members of the Black Alumni Association Governing Body, whom she has “adopted” as her “older sisters.”

Other initiatives have included a series of panel discussions featuring the first Black students to be admitted to Shipley, each sharing their personal and professional accomplishments since graduation, elevating current students’ educational experience and inspiring them to realize their full potential in college, career, and life.

“My vision is for Shipley to be a place where everyone, especially Black students, can be their authentic selves—and then go out into the world and become changemakers,” Alisha says.
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The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.