Black History Month 2016

Date Posted: 
Friday, February 12, 2016

This Black History Month we have a simple message; Our schools need more Black Educators and we all need to be more involved in our communities and not be afraid of embracing the true meaning of #blacklivesmatter.  Every year, Long Island Teachers celebrate Black History Month through school assemblies, daily announcements and in-class content, but recognizing and cultivating the accomplishments of African Americans should happen all year round, not just during the month of February. Below you can learn more about how Black Educators are making a difference in our Long Island communities. Long Island – Teacher Leaders in the Community. 

Click here: Influential African-American leaders. 

My name is Nicolette James. I am very fortunate to work with students and teachers at Westbury High School. I’ve been an English teacher for 15 years and the chair of the English department for 12. I’ve always desired to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. I believe that my purpose on earth is to educate and to empower, so every day that I am able to influence my students or my staff in realizing or reaching the fulfillment of their maximum potential is a day that I am living my dream. I love teaching about the power of words, written and spoken, and the ways in which we can use words to empower ourselves, to enrich our own lives and the lives of those we love, and ultimately the power of words to shape and create the world in which we desire to live. Education, the profession of teaching and learning, will always be one of the most noble vocations because it charges us with an awesome responsibility­­ to want for the children of others what we would want for own. I believe the students I teach are mine (for at least 180 days) and my desire is to prepare them not only to meet the challenges they will face, but to overcome them through literacy, character education, citizenship, advocacy and activism. For me, that all begins with empowering them with the knowledge, appreciation and facility of words.
David Jackson - I’ve been teaching for nine years. I’ve marched for those who lost their lives to police brutality. I’ve traveled to Africa, Brazil and other places where Africans were brought during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Of all the experiences I’ve had the richest among them are the moments I have in class with my students. For all the economic injustice in America, I’m proud to be the one telling my students about credit scores and the pre-requisites for renting an apartment for themselves. To impart on them the importance of owning property and trying to live a life that balances, work, art, love, responsibility and rest. Teachers are evaluated on our ability to create and deliver powerful, relevant instruction. The ability to question is one of the fundamentals with which democracy is founded. We choose based on implicit and explicit questions answered by the challenges we are confronted with on a daily basis. Teaching is a form of social justice because we are teaching the future to question deeply. As we model the act of deep questioning we also teach critical thinking and analysis. There’s no greater way to lead our student to freedom than by helping them develop a voice to deeply and sincerely question everything from GMO’s in their food, to housing discrimination. Everyday with my students I’m making history, not just Black History but American History.
Hi, I’m Michelle Stowers and becoming a teacher has been a truly rewarding experience.  It’s so great to wake up every morning and look forward to going to work.  As an African-American teacher, I hope that I am inspiring all of the young minds that I encounter each day.  My mother inspired me to become an educator, and along with the assistance of my grandparents, paved the way for me to achieve my goal.  As a single mom, she stressed the importance of education, and the only option I had was to produce a diploma that had been earned from a university. Watching her endure working three jobs to help push me towards my goal was both inspiring, and humbling.  Many of my students come from places similar to mine, and they look at me as someone that looks like them.  I hope to encourage my students to work hard, keep trying, and to do their best always.  I sincerely believe that today’s students need to have an array of teachers that they can relate with to prove to them that they are not different from everyone else, and to prove that they too, can achieve greatness through hard work and perseverance.  As an African-American teacher, I feel that I have an understanding of those children who may be misunderstood simply because others have never been in their shoes, and cannot relate.  I act not only as a teacher, but a mentor, a confidant, someone who cares, and someone who will push to the limits. Teaching is a great job to have.  Although many of the requirements have become cumbersome and overwhelming at times, the rewards from the job supersede these everyday stressors.  Teaching in Bay Shore is a blessing that I am grateful for and continue to cherish each day.
I am Wayne White, a 17 year veteran social studies teacher at Bellport High School in the South Country Central School District. I am also the president of the Bellport Teachers' Association as well as being a member of the New York State United Teachers Human & Civil Rights Committee. With at least 124 school districts and many units within individual districts, I happen to be one of only 3 Teacher’s Union Presidents of color on Long Island. As a first generation Jamaican-American, I am proud to be a graduate of the NY public education system as well as a multiple degree holder from SUNY at Stony Brook.  Having an education is the great equalizer and I'm proud to be a part of that change to the many students I have taught and currently teach. All of our students need to have diversity in their classrooms in order to be a better citizen of the planet and the human race. We need to bring in more diverse educators into the classrooms, to address both of our diverse and non-diverse populations. My favorite part of this profession is watching my students become successful doing what they love to do in professions such as engineering, film, photography, political science, journalism, etc. Affecting one student at a time is what brings me joy as being an educator. We are working with the Boys and Girls Club in the RISE (Rewarding Intervention for Scholastic Elevation) program to mentor the underachieving youth in attaining success regardless of all of the obstacles that may impede their progress with positive teacher’s role models outside of the school day. Many of the male students in the program have very few people to look up to. As an educator of color, it's my duty to fill that void and show them a better way and lead by example. Black History should be a part of all history in order to build students' self-esteem and worth in our society. Studies show that students’ grades improve taking ethnic studies courses. Hopefully we will get to a day where the history of all people in this nation is taught on a regular basis. For now, make your own history by leading by example.
Long Island Black Educators Association (LIBEA) has been active on Long Island for many years. The organization is comprised of classroom teachers, principals, assistant principals, deans, social workers, psychologists, superintendents, central office personnel, college professionals and community residents, who are concerned about the welfare and education of children of color. We promote DIVERSITY in the classroom (students, curriculum, and cultural activities) and advance the placement of teachers and administrators of African descent in the education workplace.  This is our crucial mission. In the last decade, the segregated public school patterns have not altered, and now there is an alarming decrease in the number of professionals of African descent employed in education. LIBEA strives to influence the development of programs and policies in school districts that will meet the needs of students of color and enrich the education of all students.  We offer workshops to the educational community that deal with teaching strategies and/or crucial issues that affect the learning environment of all students. An annual symposium is held the first Saturday in June, to award scholarships to outstanding high school students of African descent.  Over the years, over 40 students have received these awards and graduated from a variety of higher learning institutions.  At this event, outstanding educators and professionals are also acknowledged for their efforts to enhance the welfare and education of Long Island students. To advance the mission of DIVERSITY, LIBEA has collaborated with a myriad of organizations: Long Island Latino Teachers (LILTA), National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Suffolk County, ERASE RACISM, NAACP, Boys & Girls Clubs, National Alliance of Black Educators (NABSE), Ward Melville Heritage Educational Center, Anti-Defamation League…and the list continues to grow. A diverse educational system leads to an enriched learning environment for students and adults, alike. Join us in making this happen.

Upcoming LIBEA Event: February 26 - "Running Sacred.,Running Free" play at Ward Melville Heritage Educational Center, Setauket, N.Y.


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