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Career Partner Spotlight: Derrick Rainey and Shady Hill School

Derrick Rainey '09 '10 • Shady Hill School '14

"It's who I am - I love service." 

Derrick Rainey’s red jacket sits on the back of his chair at Shady Hill School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is part of their Teacher Training Course (TTC), a yearlong program immersing him in a classroom as an apprentice teacher with a master teacher and mentor.  Above his desk, a sign displays the things he loves: Playing Cello. Wearing Bowties. Public Service. As a senior in high school, Derrick first served as part of City Year Little Rock/North Little Rock's first corps, painting murals and beautifying his high school; he knew he wanted to seek out more opportunities to continue his service. Throughout his tenure at Morehouse College, Derrick served. He spent his first collegiate summer teaching youth with Summerbridge in Cambridge, MA, and he continued to serve as a mentor for a math program in Little Rock, AR.  The importance of fostering community and service to others was reinforced. Derrick took to heart the words to his first class by Morehouse’s then-President, Dr. Robert Michael Franklin, "You are global leaders, but you must have a local mindset.”  He graduated, and then moved back home. 


            Derrick served with City Year Little Rock/North Little Rock for two years.  He made sure his service was connected back to the community he had been a part of as a child, including the schools and the local Boys & Girls Club he had attended. Even though he was in familiar surroundings, it was a challenging experience. In the middle of his first service year, his team of ten had declined to a team of six. A student approached Derrick and said, "Mr. D, why is everyone leaving? You’re going to quit, too.” This pivotal moment motivated Derrick to prove that student wrong: he wasn't going to leave. He knew he needed to stay because the kids expected him to walk out on them. In 2009 he completed his first year and then served a second.  He even considered staying on at the site as a staff member, but was encouraged to participate in another opportunity for growth.

            He applied to the Clinton School of Public Service at the University of Arkansas, and was accepted.  He spent the next two years learning the importance of community engagement and understanding the philosophies of "serving not steering" and "creating a shared vision with those we serve.” Derrick further used his time at the Clinton School to give back to his community and had the opportunity to serve abroad in Zanzibar, East Africa to teach English and music to adults.

             Upon graduation from the Clinton School, Derrick brought his passion for music to the classroom.  An accomplished cellist, he was able to serve his community by filling a long-term substitute position while sharing his talent.  Through that year, Derrick learned that while he was teaching a subject he loved he still had skills to learn and felt he could have a bigger impact by teaching core curriculum.  He reached out to a mentor from his early college years, Desiree Ivey, Director of the Teacher Training Course at Shady Hill School, and was soon applying to the TTC.

            He chose this program because he knew it would bridge his past teaching experience with his future goals of educational leadership. He knew it would be a fulfilling experience and that Shady Hill would develop him into the teacher he wants to be. 

            He is now working in a 4th grade classroom alongside his Directing Teacher, who mentors him through his experience. In January, Derrick will join other apprentices at the Lawrence School in Brookline. He is one of seven apprentices who will have a dual experience in independent and public schools. While learning how to teach with a master teacher, Derrick also participates in regular workshops in reading instruction, classroom management, curriculum development, child development, mathematics, and social studies. These workshops are taught by Shady Hill faculty, administrators, and other educators from different schools and community organizations. They will provide him with strategies and techniques that will him enable to be successful in the classroom. 

            It hasn't always been easy, but his passion for service is genuine.  Derrick left his home and family in Little Rock, Arkansas for Cambridge, and he admits one of his biggest challenges has been finding a LACY plan that works.  But now he can look back on his experience and see how it’s been beneficial.  He was awarded the TTC’s Katharine Taylor Fellowship, an award granted to an individual who demonstrates a commitment to teaching children and who demonstrates an interest in leadership.  When he teaches, his students are engaged, inquisitive, and challenged.  He’s a natural, and it’s no surprise his experience has brought him to the classroom.  In his own words, "It’s who I am - I love service.”  

 Update: August 2014Derrick and his wife, Loni, moved to Kampala, Uganda in July 2014 to teach and serve as the Directors of Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum for the Beacon School East Africa.  To learn more about his school, visit or

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