One Day,

I hope all of my students feel engaged, stimulated and loved…

How would you describe your journey into education?

In high school I wanted to pursue a STEM major. Unfortunately, I had a high school teacher during this time who dissuaded me from pursuing a STEM-related vocation. At the same time, I had a wonderful history teacher who encouraged me and inspired me to want to do something with history. She was incredibly thorough in both her lectures and discussions, and she constantly taught in a way that highlighted events and people that had been “covered up” throughout time. As someone who is African American, I began to see my role in teaching history even more important, and I realized that education is where I wanted to focus my time.

What mentors have you had along the way that have ignited your journey?

I have had countless history teachers and philosophy professors who have inspired my educational philosophy. Learning through facilitated discussion rather than just lecture has really benefited me. Even professors who use lecture as their main form of communication have always been willing to have important discussions afterwards centered around the material. Many of my history classes have made me feel heard, and I have been able to speak the truth about my experiences. Being able to reflect on how my mentors have chosen to structure their classroom has influenced how I want to structure my own classroom in the future.

What inequalities have you seen within the field of education?

For me, race is always the biggest thing. I’m incredibly interested in researching and implementing the importance of Queer representation within the schools and making a safe space within my classroom. This is a topic I wish to explore further. The balance between finding inclusion and talking about representation in a way that is not belittling or slanderous is a tough balance to achieve and certainly will take more thought on my part. I look forward to this challenge! Showing dynamic history and not just Black versus White is incredibly important as is Black, Indigenous, and People of Color representation and queer representation. In middle school, I had on Black male social studies teacher and in high school, I had mostly white female teachers. There were a couple of Black teachers but not many. I have found that in college there has been slightly more representation but not as much as I would have thought. It’s interesting because in my primary and secondary years of school, I didn’t really think about representation. For me, I became so used to seeing mostly white female teachers, that it just became a normal that I accepted. Now I am aware of how much representation matters.

Where would you like to see yourself in the future?

I would love to teach at the high school level and then move to the college level. In addition, I would love to go behind the scenes and be a consultant and help the school districts utilize a better curriculum for students that adhere to the PA standards but also speak diversity and truth. This summer, I might have the opportunity to create my own curriculum in 6th and 7th grade social studies at The Neighborhood Academy through FAME Academy.

Have there been any poignant moments in your journey?

This past summer, I had the opportunity to teach 9th graders through Fame Academy. I really solidified during this experience that I want to tell everyone’s story and teach actual history and not just out of a textbook. I remember one of my students saying, “I like the type of history teacher that you are.” Another student said, “Can you come to my school and teach history there?” I think about these words every now and again because they ground me and remind me that I am on the right track. I cried when I had to say goodbye to my ninth graders at the end of the program. It was such a beautiful experience for me.

What do you hope for?

I would hope that one day we would dismantle the old idea of education where we focus not just on training students what to think but how to think critically. We need people who are innovative, analytical and self-aware. As someone who is a neurodivergent thinker, I now realize how important it is that school is not a one size fits all model. School is often very lecture based in the upper grades. For me, I needed to be engaged and involved. At one point as a student, I was too scared to ask for help because one of my teachers constantly belittled me for doing so.

In the future, my dream is for all of my students to feel engaged, stimulated and loved. Learning needs to be fun in order to remember the information that is being presented. I want there to be joy because true learning cannot occur without it.

What is something you are proud of?

I’m proud of the fact that I put forth effort to remain confident within myself and bring about positive change. Humans don’t have to agree on everything, but we do need to learn to coexist peacefully. I am very introspective about myself, and I have grown a lot. Over the years, I have learned to direct my anxiety into a learning mechanism. I am working on being proud of myself and who I am.