Susie King is Kairos' emotional therapy dog (and unofficial mascot). She was adopted from Stray Rescue of St. Louis at about 11-weeks-old and has been at Kairos every day since. Susie is named in tribute to a brilliant and daring Black educator, Susie King Taylor, who had equally impressive careers as a teacher and nurse both during and after the Civil War. We hope the homage helps keep Susie King Taylor's name and example alive as an inspiration for our students.
Fun fact: The shelter estimates that Susie's birthday is Pi + STL Day, 3/14 (March 14)!
Susie King Taylor (August 6, 1848 - October 6, 1912) was the first Black educator to teach openly in a school for formerly enslaved Black Americans in Georgia. As the author of Reminiscences of My Life in Camp with the 33d United States Colored Troops, Late 1st S.C. Volunteers, she was the only Black American woman to publish a memoir of her wartime experiences.
Despite Georgia's harsh laws prohibiting the education of enslaved people, Susie Taylor grew up attending two secret schools taught by Black women through something called an "underground education." Taylor and her brother were taught by free Black women who lived a half mile away from Susie’s house. They would have the students enter one at a time with their books covered to keep from drawing too much attention from the police or the local white population. Taylor continued her education through two white friends—a playmate named Katie O'Connor and the son of her landlord, James Blouis—who knowingly violated Georgia law and custom to pass on their school lessons.
The ability to read and write would give Susie Taylor King power and protection to people of color both free and in bondage. She would write passes that would give some amount of security to Black people who were out on the street after a particular bell was rung at nine o’clock at night. This would help keep the pass holders from being arrested by the watchman and placed in a guardhouse until the fines were paid by their master or guardian in order to release them.
During the Civil War, Susie's education came to the attention of army officers, who offered to obtain books for her if she would organize a school. She thereby became the first Black teacher for freed African American students to work in a freely operating freedmen's school in Georgia. She taught forty children in day school and "a number of adults who came to me nights, all of them so eager to learn to read, to read above anything else." She taught there until October 1862, when the island was evacuated.
In 1866 she and Edward King returned to Savannah, where she established a school for the freed children. Edward King died in September 1866, a few months before the birth of their first child. In 1867 she returned to her native Liberty County to establish another school. In 1868 she again relocated to Savannah, where she continued teaching freedmen for another year and supported herself through small tuition charges, never receiving aid from the northern freedmen's aid organizations.
The above was copied from various biographies of Susie King Taylor.
At Kairos, we believe now is the opportune moment to rethink public education. That's why we replace lectures with engaging projects and dictatorial "behavior managers" with 1-1 executive functioning coaches who help students learn how to manage their own schedule and work habits. Kairos students practice navigating real-world choices (such as when, where, how, and with whom to work) within a safe, supportive school environment. Kairos develops students not just into freethinkers, ready to thrive in a modern economy, but self-governing citizens, ready to lead both themselves and their communities.