At the young age of 20, A’Kena LongBenton began substitute teaching at University Public School, Michigan’s first charter school. She was only six years younger than her students, but garnered their respect from day one. Five years later, A’Kena became one of the youngest college instructors at Wayne State University—teaching students more than twice her age.
From Wayne State University, A'Kena has earned an education specialist certificate in instructional technology and two post-Master's degree teaching certificates in college/university teaching and online teaching. Additionally, from Wayne State, she holds a Master’s degree in speech communication, a Bachelor’s in secondary education, and a professional teaching certificate in speech communication, English, and educational technology. A’Kena has completed all courses and passed both the written and oral qualifying exams for a doctorate of philosophy degree in instructional technology with a double minor in reading, language, and literature, and speech communication. She is currently completing her dissertation—in the research phase--to ultimately complete her PhD degree.
Currently, A’Kena is an external consultant/instructional designer at Macomb Community College where she instructs TACOM former soldiers, MIOSHA State of Michigan workers, and others on presentational creation and delivery techniques and instructional design theory and concepts. She has also done course development projects for Ford Motor Company and video editing for General Motors. Formerly, A’Kena provided leadership to the engineering faculty on content, technology, and tools to support the National STEM Consortium, U.S. Department of Energy National Training Educational Resource (NTER) project, and other technology platforms.
Furthermore, A’Kena regularly presents at regional and international English, teaching, and technology conferences. As time permits, A’Kena teaches at Central Michigan University, Macomb Community College, and Wayne County Community College (online and F2F). Also, she has nearly two decades of teaching experience at the secondary and/or collegiate level. Moreover, A’Kena is a curriculum designer and literacy and technology consultant for over a decade for local and national educational institutions. Mrs. LongBenton takes great pleasure in training teachers and K12/ college students on best practices in the reading, writing, and technology fields.
Also, A’Kena is a former elementary and middle school principal, interim curriculum director, acting superintendent, grant writer, researcher for the State of Michigan Department of Education, and a ghost writer for a Pontiac mayor’s State of the City Address. Previously, she has taught for Baker College, Oakland Community College, Rochester College (online and F2F), University of Detroit Mercy, and Wayne State University. Yet, of all of her professional experiences, her most humbling one was teaching English abroad in China to Chinese professors.
Teaching for Lifelong Change, her educational consulting service, offers tutorial sessions, creative reading products, proofreading and publishing services, college book scholarships, MEAP workshops, and professional development training for teachers, tutors, and parents. Teamed up with other educated professionals, an ACT workshop for college bound students is offered as well. A’Kena is committed to changing the face of education as she invents reading products and designs creative technologically-effective content area curricula. Mrs. LongBenton’s reading products and teaching strategies have yielded a 30% increase on students' ACT scores and a 10% increase beyond the State’s average on the MEAP writing section.
Her publications include: Perfecting Public Speaking, Reading Wheel, Survival via Creative Writing: Remembering the Power of Story, Teaching and Learning in China, Towards a Philosophy or Effective Mentorship for New Professionals in Composition and Language Arts, Web 2.0 Teaching and Learning Tools, What’s the Sense in Reading?, and YUP!: A Young Urban Professional Speaks. Moreover, three of the author’s abstract reflections, Does Cultural Ignorance Affect Faculty Evaluations?, A Minority among Minorities: Instructors—The Least Considered College Entity, and The Reality of Being Young, Black, and Educated were published in a college textbook that is being used at regional universities. Also, Educators Unknowingly Aiding and Abetting Illiterate Students, Life Lessons from a YUPPIE, and 25 Rules of Basic Writing, and are pending publication.
Civically, Mrs. LongBenton earned the Spirit of Detroit award, from a Detroit mayor and City Council, to honor her commitment to Detroit children and families. Also, within her civic duties, A’Kena is the former board president of Great Lakes Academy, a local charter school in Pontiac, MI. As board president, she was fiscally responsible for a $6M budget and creating school policies. Also, A’Kena has co-chaired two non-profit organizations, Energize the Vote and Cranbrook HUB Alumni Association where she encouraged citizens to become politically involved and the importance of volunteerism, respectively. Also, because A'Kena matriculated through college primarily via scholarships, she founded The A'Kena Long Book Scholarship where she awards young people scholarships to purchase their college textbooks. This scholarship was founded on the principle: "to whom much is given, much is required."
On a personal note, A’Kena has been married for nearly 14 years to her best friend, Larry, of nearly 24 years. As the youngest of nine children and being the first to earn a Bachelor’s degree, A’Kena has inspired her older siblings to either complete or begin their college degree programs.