The Need to Believe


Welcome to a new first-person series from the National Urban Alliance: “The Need to Believe.” The Need to Believe title is borrowed from the opening chapter of the Pedagogy of Confidence. The Pedagogy of Confidence is the philosophical premise of the National Urban Alliance for Effective Education. The principles of the Pedagogy of Confidence are tightly woven into everything the NUA does, but these principles aren’t simply referential. They are the testimony of every member of the NUA family. The Pedagogy of Confidence is described as “fearless expectation and support for all students to demonstrate high intellectual performance.” The “need to believe” in the Pedagogy of Confidence, then, is a call to action. Greater than this, it is also a call to self-transformation. In this series, get to know the people who work and believe in “fearless expectation and support for all students.”

Talitha Simeona, MA is a recent addition to the National Urban Alliance family. In addition to her work as a mentor-in-training with NUA, Simeona is a district-wide mentor to first-year teachers in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

Simeona is also a national board certified teacher and founder of her own youth mentoring group for middle-school aged children focused on self-esteem and literacy.

Education is a second career for Simeona, but it is far from the start of her career as an educator. In high school, Simeona began volunteering as a peer advisor, helping teen moms stay in school even as she was learning how to manage life as a young parent herself.

The work was one of the most fulfilling experiences of her life. Simeona went on to finish her undergraduate and, later, graduate work at Hofstra University, earning a Master’s degree in education.

In her current work as an administrator, Simeona helps recruit and support outstanding teachers, and now, she is helping cultivate outstanding teachers all across the country through the National Urban Alliance.


Hear from Ms. Talitha Simeona, in her own words:


think it’s about changing belief systems—that’s in adults, parents, staff and even children.

I hear ‘they’re so low’ instead of ‘I need to meet them where they are.’ I hear ‘you’ve got the bad kids.’ It’s the same thing. How do we change people’s mindsets.

Half of what we do is get into a child’s mind and make them believe.

You’re trying to change hundreds of biases and thought processes in people of all colors—and the push back is the challenging part.”