Ryan Tauriainen, previously named The Washington Post's Principal of the Year, currently serves as the director of early childhood education at Friendship Public Charter School. In this role, he works at the school system level directing pre-K education throughout multiple schools in the greater Washington, D.C., area.
Tauriainen was nominated for NBC Out's #Pride30 list by one of his mentees, who said Tauriainen is someone who "strives for justice" no matter where he lives, with "goals to bridge equality for the LGBTQ community and educational equality for children who come from little."
NBC News spoke with Tauriainen for NBC Out's #Pride30 special.
What made you choose to work in education?
"I did the Teach for America program in Hawaii, where I transformed my 7th grade class from being the lowest-performing of the school to the top-performing class by the end of the year. This inspired and cemented my feeling to stay in education."
Tell us more about the education consultancy you founded, KinderProgress.
"In 2017, I founded a consultancy where I give free training and professional development to early childhood teachers and leaders. I work on writing a curriculum online that can be accessed by anyone completely for free. I noticed that there are very few options for early childhood curriculum — 3 and 4 year olds — and the options that were out there were very expensive. It's my personal mission to outreach and improve outcome for our neediest communities with early childhood education. That can't happen if those communities don't have access and can't afford a curriculum. That's where I got the idea to create something that can be used by anyone and make it free."
What does "pride" mean to you?
"Pride is being yourself — unabashedly and without apology."