Growing up in Detroit, it’s tempting to look beyond the city limits for greener grass.
For LaToyia Webb though, there simply is no place like home.
“I am from Detroit. I started my career with Detroit and I will retire from Detroit. This is my home.”
It’s this sense of fierce loyalty that led LaToyia to the Central-Durfee K–12 Campus, where she serves as Principal.
“Many opportunities came to go to the suburbs where resources or even the pay may have been greater,” she said. “But I have to do what is best, and that’s to serve my community.”
Like the rest of us, Principal Webb has had to navigate the uncertainty of the past 18 months. But for her, there is perhaps a greater sense of urgency to get back to doing what she does best.
“The world just seemed to have paused for Covid,” she said. “So, I’m ready to press play — and even fast-forward a little bit — because time doesn’t stand still. We have to get back on track, especially getting my high school students more involved with internships and job training.”
These types of hands-on opportunities are critical to their success, she explained.
“You talk, talk, talk… But when the students actually get the experience, then it comes to life and begins to make sense to the students instead of just being words coming out of my mouth or printed in a brochure.”
Her vision isn’t limited to what she sees for her students though: She applies the same logic to their families and the neighborhoods they call home.
“Freebies or handouts are not going to make a difference. They Band-Aid the problem. Resources to empower the community are what’s going to provide better outcomes.”
In her relentless pursuit of these resources, Principal Webb says she didn’t have to look very far.
“My families come with a list of needs that go beyond what I can provide,” she said, “but I can’t let it go on deaf ears. So, I’m always looking for stronger partnerships, and having Life Remodeled and the Innovation Society right next door with so many resources and partnerships with others who want to help and who want to give back… It’s a match made in heaven. It makes that part of my job a lot easier.”
The easiest part of her job though is setting priorities, and Principal Webb is quick to share what tops the list when asked about the future of the city she loves.
“I’m biased,” she said with a wide smile. “I want to make sure that my Durfee and Central families have first access to opportunities. I don’t keep that a secret. They come first to me because I believe that, together, we can bring dreams to life.”
In other words… We all really do need somebody to lean on.