My passion includes arts in education, media literacy and understanding youth culture. For over 10 years I have served as an innovative educator, supporting students, parents and teachers locally and nationally and internationally using literacy and social studies across content areas.
I have presented my teacher research and practice at forums such as the University of Pennsylvania’s Ethnography Forum, National Writing Project’s Urban Sites Conference, Yale University’s Common Ground Publication, Temple University’s Media Education Lab, Depaul University’s National Endowment of the Humanities Poetry Seminar and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers – Health and Welfare Program for Teachers Conference.
Earlier this month, Penn held its annual lecture named after Constance Clayton, Philadelphia's first Black superintendent. The title of the lecture was "Do Black and Brown Lives Matter? Reframing Public Media Racial Narratives for Urban Schooling." Addressing that issue was Dr. James Peterson, director of Africana studies and an associate professor of English at Lehigh University.
Peterson, a leading hip-hop scholar who regularly appears as a media contributor on MSNBC and other media networks, spoke about why the Black Lives Matter movement means so much for organizing and transforming classrooms and communities. Educational institutions, he said, should be at the forefront of unpacking the issues of systemic inequities found in schools, police departments, and other areas of civic life.
Many young heroes attend schools like Beeber Middle School. Any of the student leaders who worked alongside parents, teachers, and the community to keep Beeber Middle School off the closing list last year could be called heroic. The same could be said for the many students who strive to succeed academically and socially in a challenging and under-resourced school.
On Wednesday, the National Liberty Museum will honor two rising 9th graders from Beeber Middle School for a Young Heroes Award. The annual award goes to ordinary young people in the Philadelphia area who have done extraordinary things in the areas of civic engagement, conflict resolution, promoting liberty, diversity, and school or community leadership.
Deciding which of my students to nominate was not easy. I chose to nominate Sarah Louiness and Xavier Muchison, because they embodied the composite of all the young heroes I teach and encounter every day. They challenged me to be a better teacher and a better person.
April is National Poetry Month, but after reading the contributions of 90 teachers and educational thought leaders in the anthology Teaching with Heart: Poetry that Speaks to the Courage to Teach, I think every month should be National Poetry Month.
This collection, edited by Sam M. Intrator and Megan Scribner, celebrates the “magic and messiness” of teaching. A sequel to Teaching with Fire, published over 10 years ago, Teaching with Heart provides stories, reflections, and poems that, at their core, marry the muse from treasured poets like Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, and Maya Angelou with the voices of novice and seasoned educators. The words that flow on the pages will inspire and sustain teachers and lovers of language and stories.
Why are so many students performing poorly in schools, and who is accountable for students’ success? The debate about these questions looms large in educational reform arenas. I recently read I’m Your Teacher Not Your Mother, a self-published book by first-time author and veteran teacher Suzette Clarke, who taught middle school English and social studies in New York City public schools for 15 years. What follows is a frank discussion with Clarke, who urges parents to recognize their responsibilities.
School vacation, for many teachers, is not time off, but time on.
Contrary to popular perception, many educators don't spend the summers just relaxing at the beach or rejuvenating for the coming school year. Plenty of teachers take advantage of the summers by organizing, participating in professional learning communities, and lesson planning, among many other things.
On June 25, the first day of this “school vacation,” many Philadelphia public school teachers rallied in Harrisburg with more than 1,000 other teachers, counselors, nurses, safety workers, librarians, and others from across Pennsylvania to demand equitable funding for public schools.