My story starts a little over a century ago in the late 1800s when both of my parents’ families came to America searching for the opportunity to create a better life for themselves and their families. In their minds, a key to that pursuit was education.
I was born in Orlando, Florida and attended Orange County Public Schools for all grades K-12. Like many people, I had educators, such as Ms. Jan Leisher, who had an outsized impact on my life through education. After high school, I enrolled at the University of Florida where I earned two bachelor’s degrees, one in finance and the other in history.
After graduation, I moved to Rosedale, Mississippi in the heart of the Mississippi Delta to teach high school math. It was here that my life-long passion for and commitment to education was cemented. I saw first-hand how the zip code that you happen to be born into can be the biggest determinant to your opportunities. I witnessed how much further we as a country have to go to make the American Dream a possibility for all Americans. The community that I was welcomed into and the students and families that I had the honor to work alongside with cemented my passion to pursue education as a lifetime career.
During my time at West Bolivar High School, I was able to found the first successful AP Calculus program in district history and was named Teacher of the Year by both the county Chamber of Commerce and West Bolivar High School in the 2011-12 school year. Despite no longer living in Mississippi, I have made it a priority to stay involved, serving on the board of the Rosedale Freedom Project, a non-profit organization that offers after-school and summer programming for students centered around social justice, academics, and self-advocacy.
As a teacher in Mississippi, I saw first-hand the impact that a principal has on a school and moved to Cambridge, MA to pursue my Master’s Degree in School Leadership from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. The next year, I was given the opportunity to move to Dallas and take over as principal of the School for the Talented and Gifted (TAG Magnet) in 2013.
Over the past six years, TAG has been named as the #1 high school in the nation four times by U.S. News and World Report. We have revamped the application process with a focus on equity and access, resulting in TAG becoming federally recognized as a Title 1 school for the first time. During this same time frame, academic achievement at TAG has soared with the school reaching all-time highs in SAT, ACT, and Advanced Placement (AP) achievement, proving what is possible for students regardless of the background that they come from.
In January, I was approved by DeSoto ISD to become the Chief of Research, Evaluation, and Design. I am certainly excited for the challenge to help catch some of the fire that makes TAG special and work to fan its flames across an entire district, but I am also deeply passionate about our students, families, and schools in Dallas ISD and want to continue to serve here in the community in which I live.
Throughout my time at TAG, I’ve worked to build bridges across differences, authentically engage all of our community, foster a culture of love and respect for faculty and students alike, and be uncompromising in the pursuit of helping students achieve their fullest potential. I’ve worked with and served students and families from across District 7 and Dallas ISD and I want to continue that work.
My name is Ben Mackey and I want to be your next school board trustee in District 7.