akiea "ki" gross
abolitionist educator | creative architect
Akiea “Ki” Gross (they/them) is an abolitionist early educator, coach, consultant and creative entrepreneur currently innovating ways to unlearn, heal, liberate and create with their pedagogy, Woke Kindergarten. In the many years they spent teaching in classrooms, their experiences spanned infancy to 6th grade. Prior to leaving the school system, they served as a Kindergarten Teacher and an Instructional Coach of Inquiry-Based Learning in Harlem.
Recently, Ki was selected as the Early Childhood Education Assembly’s 2020 Social Justice Award Recipient and has participated as a speaker, panelist and moderator for many organizations and events including Bank Street’s Black Lives Matter at Schools Week Symposiums, SXSW EDU, Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented, Teachers for Social Justice, Montclair State, UMBC, NYPL, Abolitionist Teaching Network and more.
It was their experiences with the carceral state of schooling and the trauma enacted upon Black children in these systems, that galvanized them to create #BlackTeachersMatter, Black Teachers Mentor and Equitable Schools years ago. As their ideologies and experiences with abolition evolved, they dissolved Equitable Schools and created @WhyAbolition.
Their commitment to creating safe, inclusive and liberatory spaces for BIPOC queer & trans artists also led them to create Sisters Unsigned, an intimate concert series that amplifies the voices of independent queer, trans, gender and genre expansive BIPOC artists and creators.
Along with their partner Sonic and creative team, Womxyn Amplify, they’ve directed, curated and hosted many other creative pursuits including Sisters Unsigned presents: Women in Hip Hop, Archway Pride, and SEASONS: A Voyage Through Sound, their team’s 2020 artist residency at National Sawdust. Currently, they serve as Coaching Manager for 4.0 Schools, an early stage investor and incubator for education entrepreneurs, and are working on the release of a few entrepreneurial projects of their own.
They hold an M.A. in Developmental Psychology from Teachers College, an M.S. in Childhood Education/Special Education from the Progressive Education Institute/Touro College and two B.A.’s in Child Development and Family Studies and Psychology, respectively.
You can find them on Twitter @akieag and their work on Instagram @WokeKindergarten, @WhyAbolition, @WomxynAmplify and @SistersUnsigned.