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February 27, 2019

Being The Change: Black Educators Reflect On Why They Do This Work

As another inspiring Black History Month comes to a close, we asked four KIPP Texas educators to reflect on why they continue to choose teaching as a profession and the impact that Black History Month has in the classroom. There were three questions posed and rich discussions that stemmed from each one: Why is it important to have black educators in the classroom? Why do you teach? And, how does Black History Month influence you and your students? Here are their reflections.


Ms. Delisha Ford, Second Grade Teacher at KIPP CONNECT Primary (Houston)

Why is it important to have black educators in the classroom?

It is important to have black educators in the classroom because representation matters! It is important for students to see someone other than themselves. Students should have teachers that serve as windows, rather than mirrors; insomuch as, teachers who can open their minds to new ideas, practices, and experiences. 

Why do you teach?

Teachers of color represent only 18 percent of the teaching population in the United States, and black educators are seven percent of the teaching population. I teach to change these statistics. I teach because I want to be a part of the change I wish to see in the realm of education. Recently, I received a letter from my second grade student thanking me for being her teacher. Before she ended her letter she wrote, “Ms. Ford, I love you so much. I am so happy that you are my teacher because you are my first brown teacher. You’re brown just like me.” Her sweet, innocent words are the reason I teach.


 

Mr. Rasheem Creech, Restorative Justice Coordinator,  KIPP Aspire (San Antonio)

Why do you teach?

I teach because I want to be that example for my students here in San Antonio who may feel like they don’t have someone who looks like them in the education field. When I thought of all the black male role models I had growing up, none of them where at my school. I had them in my neighborhood, basketball practice, and YMCA, but none where I spent 80 percent of my day.

How does Black History Month influence you and your students?

Black History Month inspires me to leave a positive  imprint everywhere I go. Every person you come in touch with, you have a chance to make an impression on them. My goal is to impact all no matter what. Not all of us will be recognized on the biggest scale, but having a student know they can come to me for help means so much more. There are many black historians who gave so much to a cause, but their names didn’t get to ring bells to the world. I am sure we are all thankful for their commitment.


Ms. Sharla Stewart, Second Grade Teacher, KIPP Comunidad (Austin)

Why do you teach?

Since I was little, I’ve wanted to be a teacher. I always played school as a kid. I changed careers in college. I planned for law school, but the doors to a career in education opened instead. I’m a firm believer in finding my path and I have strong faith. I was offered a job at KIPP. I started as a building substitute teacher and became a full-time teacher. I listened to my heart. I know this is where I’m supposed to be. Even when I have hard days, I really thrive and I can see my work paying off through my kids and that is really rewarding for me. When they finally get it, it makes me so happy. This isn’t just another job, it’s a calling!


 

Mr. Chris Hendricks, Seventh Grade Writing Teacher, KIPP TRUTH Middle School (Dallas-Fort Worth)

How does Black History Month  influence you and your students?

Black history commands respect for the ones who have done things before you. No one gets into teaching for fame or fortune and it’s the same for black history – Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges — they each did what they did because it was the right thing to do. And for me, teaching is what’s right.

When you continue to do things that are right, you’ll see change. Black History Month is all about having the opportunity to reach equality and change stereotypes. Black people deserve to be educated and to educate. To change the game we have to step out of our comfort zone. I want to figure out how can I be most effective in my community; I want to get into the system, find places to strengthen, and I know it starts with the teachers. This is why I do this work.