Marin City woman, 51, gets scholarships to pursue teaching goal

Whereas household deaths and a stage 3 colon most cancers prognosis might need defeated a much less resilient individual, La Donna Clark took the setbacks as a problem to take management of her life.

“After battling most cancers and surviving, and shedding my nephew to a horrible automobile accident and my child sister dying at age 32, I simply determined it was time to complete what I got down to do,” mentioned Clark, 51, of Marin Metropolis.

For Clark, that meant returning to Dominican College of California in San Rafael after 10 years to earn her instructing credential. She is doing that now with assist from two scholarship applications geared toward rising the variety of Marin lecturers of colour within the public faculties.

“You’re solely given one life,” Clark mentioned. “So why not?”

Clark, an educational coach at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Academy in Marin Metropolis, was one in every of 9 college students granted a Marin Academics of Colour scholarship this faculty 12 months to pursue a instructing credential at Dominican. The scholarship and a Marin public faculty staff’ tuition low cost have made the school program, which usually prices about $25,000 to $31,000, inexpensive and doable.

Clark additionally has nearly 5 years in remission following the most cancers prognosis. Additionally, Clark, a single mom of three and grandmother of two, lately discovered love and marriage for the primary time in her life.

Julie Grellas, a Dominican administrator, mentioned Clark is “so spectacular.”

“La Donna has been serving the neighborhood for over 20 years, all whereas going via her personal private struggles,” Grellas mentioned. “She has labored in each native faculties and nonprofits, displaying her dedication to caring for others.”

Clark, who expects to earn her instructing credential in Could, mentioned she plans to use for a instructing job at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Academy. She hopes to turn into a transitional kindergarten or kindergarten instructor on the Sausalito campus of the varsity.

Itoco Garcia, superintendent of the Sausalito Marin Metropolis College District, mentioned he has recognized Clark — whose maiden title is Bonner — since they had been college students at Tamalpais Excessive College in Mill Valley.

“La Donna has at all times been recognized for her kindness, her empathy and her beneficiant spirit,” Garcia mentioned. He mentioned these qualities “shine via” in her work as a scholar coach.

Garcia added that he’s “excited that this side of our teacher-of-color pipeline is bearing fruit,” referring to a district plan to help categorized staff who want to earn instructing credentials. He mentioned the pipeline will help improve hiring at Marin faculties that need to present a extra various instructor workforce.

The Dominican scholarships are “one small however important information level concerning methods through which Marin public faculties and native establishments of upper ed can work collectively to diversify Marin’s instructor workforce to extra intently replicate our scholar inhabitants,” Garcia mentioned.

Clark, who has been sober for 28 years after scuffling with dependancy, pursued instructing within the late Nineteen Nineties as a method to assist her personal youngsters who had studying disabilities.

The equivalent twin of La Tanya Wiggins, a Marin Metropolis dwelling day care operator, Clark discovered her giant prolonged household had taught her easy methods to advocate for herself and her youngsters in a rational and assertive method.

“Two of my youngsters had studying disabilities,” she mentioned. “What initially acquired me within the instructional discipline was due to the struggles they went via, academically.”

She initially deliberate to open a studying middle in Marin Metropolis to assist different households with children who’re struggling “as a result of I felt like folks didn’t have endurance to assist my children the place they had been, so I felt like I might be that individual for different children in my neighborhood.”

She discovered the eagerness to show and assist households “as a result of I discovered easy methods to advocate for my very own children.”

Clark accomplished a bachelor’s diploma at Dominican in 2012 however was not in a position to full the instructor credentialing a part of this system. With no instructing certificates, Clark has labored as a medical assistant, a instructor’s aide, a substitute instructor — and, since 2014, a scholar coach.

She acquired the proverbial wake-up name in 2017, when she obtained the most cancers prognosis. She endured a 12 months of chemotherapy. Throughout that point, her youthful sister, Arnetta Morgan, died of unknown causes.

Then, in 2019, her nephew Kwentyn Wiggins, a Branson College scholar, was killed in a automobile crash in Corte Madera on the age of 17.

By 2020, Clark, then in remission from the most cancers, knew it was time for a change. At a celebration at her home, she related with a visitor, Katon Clark, whom she then started relationship.