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Photo of Dodson, JaNay

JaNay Dodson

Hyde Park Academy


JaNay Dodson is an Anatomy/Physiology and Biology instructor at Hyde Park Academy. She attributes her interest in science to her mother who always said if she was “smart enough” she would have explored a career in science, a statement that has stuck with her. After graduating from DePauw University with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Sociology in 2002, she joined the service organization, Teach for America and was relocated from her hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana to Chicago. Though her goal was to attend medical school after completing her 2-year commitment to TFA, she realized that she had a passion for teaching science and serving under-represented students. Since graduating from DePauw University, JaNay has earned 2 higher level degrees; a Master’s in Secondary Education and a Master’s in Educational Administration. 

For the past 17 years, JaNay has resided in and served the south side of Chicago. She has always believed that it takes a village to raise a child and, thus, feels it is her duty as an African-American woman to work in schools where she can not only teach students in her community but also be a mentor, a second mother, and a confidant to inner city students of color (ICSC).  As the only African American Biology major in the class of 2002, JaNay understands the struggle of being a person of color in a field dominated by the majority. It is her goal to foster a love of science and the self-esteem needed to overcome any obstacles her students may face pursuing a career in S.T.E.M. “I want to be that teacher; the one that people look back on and say, ‘she’s the reason I knew I could do it’. I want to be the support my mother should have had as a student. I want to make a difference. “

As a BEST fellow, JaNay chose to work in the Robotics Lab at the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab under the leadership of a brilliant biomedical engineer, Dr. Jim Patton. Her summer experience involved learning how the field of engineering addresses the mobility needs of stroke survivors through weekly research seminars and roundtable meetings, daily observations, and hands-on experiences with simple coding and circuits. JaNay is implementing what she has learned by re-creating her unit on the Nervous System to include multiple engineering practices and experiences for her students.

 “Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.”
—Soror Mae Jemison, Ph.D.; first African American female astronaut


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