Award-Winning Buffalo Educator Transforms Lives Of Students

Rachel M. (Wysocki) Kent ’03 approaches life with the philosophy that no good deed should go undone.

Although she wasn’t quite sure of her career plans as a student at Allegheny College, she loved learning and helping others. She maximized her time at Allegheny by choosing to double major in English and historylaying the groundwork to go on and earn a Master’s of Science at D’Youville University.

Rachel Kent

At the same time, her community service and volunteer work started to pick up, benefiting students and their families living along the shore of Lake Erie.

Kent is now a highly qualified teacher in the Buffalo Public Schools, holding seven New York State teaching certificates. She is in her 19th year as a high school educator and is currently working in the Urban Teacher Academy, a career and technical education program that prepares the next generation of educators for the City of Buffalo. 

What Kent finds most rewarding about her career and volunteer work are “the changes I see in young people when they realize their own capacity for impact in their communities. I enjoy the fact that every day is different, and I am able to bring my own authentic self to the classroom each day. I love being my students’ cheerleader. It is the best part of my job. Nothing beats seeing a kid smile when you say you’re proud of them, except when they respond back, ‘I’m proud of me, too’.”

Kent is involved in volunteer initiatives for youth experiencing poverty in western New York. She is the founder of the Good Deed Grocery, a school-based, free-of-charge grocery store available to students at Buffalo’s International Preparatory School. Similarly, she has spearheaded the Good Day Grocery, a mutual aid group providing resources to food pantries and community centers in Buffalo. 

Kent credits her Allegheny experience for setting the foundation for her career success and commitment to community service. 

“Allegheny’s professors provided me with a model for how to organize a classroom, provide student support, and engage students in a variety of activities to increase student learning,” says Kent. “Experiential learning, cooperative learning, individualized learning – these are all terms that are recently lauded in the field of education, but Allegheny has been doing them for decades.”

When school is not in session, Kent is a work-based learning coordinator and site supervisor for the Buffalo Mayor’s Summer Youth Program. To round out her incredible work, she is the operations director and instructor at Artsy Languages, a literacy- and art-based nonprofit. She is also in a cohort of the Western New York Core Fellows Program with the Institute of NonProfit Practice.

Good Deed Grocery

Kent has received national recognition and numerous awards for her classroom and volunteer work. In 2022, Qualatric recognized her as a National Standout Classroom Teacher — one of six in the United States — and she received a $1,000 grant to support the Good Deed Grocery.

In 2023, Kent received Congressional recognition for her service to youth in education as part of the Excellence in Education Awards in Buffalo and was a finalist for the Buffalo High School Teacher of the Year. Her community service work has been featured in several Buffalo-area print and electronic media outlets, including The Buffalo News.

In 2024, Kent hopes to bring the nationally recognized Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to Buffalo, a nonprofit program that provides monthly free books to children through age five. 

She also returned as a finalist for the Buffalo High School Teacher of the Year and was selected as a 2024 AI Classroom Innovator by Arizona State University + GSV Ventures.