03 Jan Meet Nichole Salaam, our newest team member
We just welcomed a new team member to Rêve Academy: Nichole Salaam. She’s joining us as Director, Academic Excellence, leading Rêve Academy’s work in connecting students and educators to our unique educational philosophy. We sat down with Nichole to learn more about her career path and her vision for this role.
What drew you to the world of education?
The first time that I stepped foot into a school as an adult was when I was working for a domestic violence shelter. My role was to go into schools—very similar to what Rêve Academy does—to provide a curriculum for teaching youth about non-violence. What I realized is that I was super comfortable being in a classroom and teaching kids, and that’s where my education journey started. I was a licensed social worker at the time, and I realized that I was being drawn to the classroom instead. Out of the blue, I had an opportunity to teach Spanish in a school setting. So I jumped on it and went on to get my certification in teaching. From there, I eventually received my organizational leadership degree and was asked to teach classes in an organizational leadership program. That led to me designing professional development for new teachers, which later led me to Rêve!
What was it about Rêve Academy that sparked your interest?
Initially, I hadn’t heard about Rêve Academy and had no idea what it was about. When I read more about the EDU program, it very much aligned with my values and my love of coaching, mentoring, and education. And the fact that EDU operated outside of the traditional sense really caught my eye. Rêve Academy is really figuring out how to teach digital pathways. That was compelling for me because I love the whole idea of distance learning and digital learning.
As you’re settling into your role as Director of Academic Excellence, what has stood out to you about Rêve? Any favorite moments so far?
Something that’s really exciting to me is the visioning around the work and the flexibility around that. We may not be able to accomplish everything we dream about in six months, but we’re still planning for it. We don’t let the fact that something is a stretch goal hold us back.
I had heard that the team was really collaborative and I’ve seen that in action. Not every organization knows how to execute on their vision of collaboration. By default, people often get siloed. And I haven’t seen that happen here. That’s been refreshing.
I’ve also been impressed with the interns, over and over again. Seeing their capacity for growth is inspiring.
How do you spend your free time and what’s something that people might not know about you?
Lately, bingewatching episodes of Law and Order: SVU. That is my thing. If not that, I love watching K-dramas.
We’re so excited to have you on the team! Is there anything else you’d like to share?
You know, I was born and raised in North Minneapolis, lived and worked in St. Paul and now I’m in South Minneapolis. So I’m pretty familiar with this area, and the world is getting smaller and smaller with the connections that I’ve fostered over the years. The reason this work is so particularly important to me is that I’ve seen what happens when we don’t tap into our talent here in the Twin Cities. And especially talent that looks like our kids. For me, the kids is where it’s at. There’s an opportunity for change, and impacting change, and that’s with our kids.