PATERSON, NJ- Growing up in the Bronx, the “proud” daughter of a bus driver and a railroad clerk, Tahesha Way learned early in life that in order to accomplish her goals she’d have to “work hard with integrity” and always “take pride” in where she came from.

So that’s what she did.

And, based on her resume, both academic and professional, there’s no doubting that the lessons her parents imparted on her, and she shared with the students of Ms. Beamon’s 4th Grade class at School 21 on Wednesday, have worked. 

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A graduate of Brown University and University of Virginia Law School, Way has served as a member of the Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders as well as an Administrative Law Judge, and, earlier this year, was appointed by Governor Phil Murphy as New Jersey’s Secretary of State.

Her new role, Way told the students, involves “making sure people understand all different cultures” in New Jersey, “so that we can become better.” 

Following a welcome from Superintendent Eileen Shafer who shared her pride for how hard the students were working, and a brief introduction from Terry Corallo, the District’s executive director of information services, Way had no problem capturing the attention of her audience. 

Prior to her reading, assisted ably by students Josue Huitron and Kavon Roberts, of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, Way spoke about the importance of Black History Month and reflected on the work of figures such as Garret Morgan, Dr. Mae Jemison, and Dr. Patricia Bath, whose accomplishments, despite them not being common household names, continue to have an impact today. 

Their work and contributions, as well as her own, Way told the students, is proof that anyone can succeed. “If this little girl from the Bronx was able to excel,” she said, “you can to.”

With an already distinguished career of public service, Way encouraged the students to “work together to make everyone’s lives better.”

Speaking to TAPinto Paterson on the way out of School 21 Shafer, just hours before being appointed to her role permanently by the Board of Education, said that she was excited to see the children “engaged and learning.”

“That’s what it’s all about.”