Teaching is an art. It is relational, not transactional. I love the vulnerability that is often required of the profession to build lasting relationships with young scholars.
Can you talk a little bit about your journey to your current position?
In order to understand my journey, it’s important to talk about where it started. I was born in Paris, France, raised in Ghana, and I then migrated to Queens in New York. Although I already spoke English, my transition was difficult culturally, socially, and academically. Everything was brand new, but luckily my teachers were extremely influential and supportive. My first and favorite teacher was my fourth grade teacher, Ms. Olson. She empowered me to believe in myself, and made all learning culturally relevant. This experience made me want to become who I needed when I was younger, a teacher!
I completed my teacher training at Morgan State University, Coppin State University, John Hopkins University, and McDaniel College. Additionally, Friendship provided me with the opportunity to attend the rigorous National Academy of Advanced Teacher Education (NAATE), which I completed at Yale University in 2015. This truly transformed my practice.
Currently, I teach eighth grade English/Language Arts and I enjoy collaborating with teachers across the Friendship network so I can share and learn the best practices.
What do you like most about teaching?
Teaching is an art. It is relational, not transactional. I love the vulnerability that is often required of the profession to build lasting relationships with young scholars. I share my personal journey and hardships and in return, students feel comfortable sharing theirs. In doing so, we are better able to persevere and grow together.
I love looping with students with whom I have already established relationships. I enjoy implementing creative lessons and making everything a teachable moment. In order for students to be interested in a lesson, it must be significant to them. For this reason, I incorporate current local and worldwide events, and we also explore real-world topics such as the Black Lives Matter movement. Students learn about the importance of the choices they make and their greater societal impact. They learn about empathy and differing perspectives.
What do you like about Friendship?
I love the support that I receive from my colleagues and leaders within the Friendship network. It has been deeply meaningful to have had the opportunity to engage with the founder and receive a classroom visit from the CEO. I am eternally grateful to Donald Hense and Patricia Brantley for creating a phenomenal place to teach and learn. Additionally, Dr. Jeffrey Grant, Chrissy Smith, Vielka Scott-Marcus, and Doranna Tindle are all great mentors who continue to empower me daily so that I can live in my purpose. I am deeply appreciative of the daily encouragement from the middle school team and my “Elite Eighth” grade comrades – Derrick Gooding, Lynne Gober, and Malcolm Johnson. Also, teachers like our T.O.Y. Samantha Thompson (mentee) and partner Robert Gregory provide wonderful motivation. The entire Blow Pierce staff work well together in serving students, and I am grateful to work with such dedicated professionals.
Is there a fun fact you’d like to share?
I love Afrobeats and Reggae music. To set the mood for learning, I play a song every day for my students when they walk or dance into the classroom. Throughout the year, they’ve embraced the cultural differences as it sets the tone for active learning, even when there’s a substitute. They take out their homework, and as soon as the music stops they immediately begin their classwork. I love hearing them come into class singing a Shatta Wale song or humming a Beres Hammond “chune!” It is the most rewarding interaction which makes it all worthwhile to be a teacher!