One Day,

I hope for a world where we have a collectivist approach to humanity rather than individualistic…

What is your educational background?

I received my Bachelors in Music Education from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania in 2011. I also have my PreK-4 Certification and Masters in Special Education from Duquesne University.

What or who inspired you to become an educator?

I always grew up enjoying parts of school. I liked the idea of finding out more information and was absolutely the student in school who questioned everything, not because of authority but because I wanted to know more. I used to play school when I was younger and really liked the idea of both being the teacher and the student.

When I was in high school I had a few educators who really made an impact on me and really inspired me to push myself. These teachers were passionate about their content, cared about their students, and were continually on a path to excellence! I wanted to be an English teacher but then realized that I had always had music in my life and really connected to it. Music is what made me want to write, and it helped me to find an emotional outlet. Since English is a part of music I figured I was getting the best of both worlds by going into Music Education and sharing my passion for music with others.

What roles have you had in the sphere of education?

I am currently the K-8 Music Educator. Within my time at Propel I have lead the school wide positive behavior intervention and support team, been an induction guide for year 1 educators, worked as a data lead, directed the middle school musical, and helped to write and revise our district curriculum. I also have recently been selected to become a member of the Pennsylvania Teacher Advisory Committee.

Why are you still in the field of education?

I grew up as a student in suburban education. My experience was very sheltered and being a bi-racial male I did not have many educators who looked like me or could support me in finding my identity. When I began to teach in Pittsburgh I had the fortunate opportunity to begin my work in a school population that was 97% Black. This job helped me to see that the education system as well as many other systems in the world are working against students of color. These systems are not perfect, but the only way for the systems to improve is for educators working inside of them to make meaningful changes.

I am still in education to make meaningful changes for my students. I believe that every student has the ability to succeed, and it is my job to help them grow their full potential and help them to see their success. I am not just a Music Teacher, and I believe that music is one of the most important contents we teach in school. Not only does music help students to connect with the other contents in meaningful ways, but it allows students to connect with who they are and with others around them. Music helps students to unpack their beliefs, gain a sense of community, and decide how they can best become change agents as they more forward into adulthood. Music never leaves people, and I am in education to help them use music to impact others lives.

What changes can you make to shift the field towards equity and justice?

Within my school walls I see many educators who mean well but are still denying students access to education because of systemic issues. There is sometimes a mentality that education should only be for those who want it, and I believe that we have to shift our mindset. Every child wants to learn, but it is our job as educators to help that child see why they want the education we are laying out. I see educators who are frustrated with repeated classroom behaviors and are lacking a skill set to know how to change their practice to meet the needs of their students. Instead, educators send their students to the office where the education is stopped. Our students need to learn and deserve to have access. Yes, they might need a space to separate, but I often never see that gap in instructional time made up. I think in our fight for equity and inclusion we often miss the important part of access. As educators first think, are all my students able to access this content in a meaningful way? If not, how can we take strategic steps so that they can!

One day what do you hope for?

I hope one day that our current generation creates a better world than the one we have born them into. It is my hope that students are going to grow into adults who are critical thinkers, innovators, and passionate for change. Overall, I want these future leaders to be kind people who are thinking about others and working toward a world where we have a collectivist approach to humanity rather than individualistic. I want the future leaders to have left an education system that did right by all of them. I want all of our students currently to leave the education system knowing that they had educators and administration that cared about them and helped them to see their full potential.