Pine Grove Elementary School
1.) Tell us about your role as an educator. What does your typical day look like?
For starters and in this day and age (experiencing my first pandemic), my role as an educator is definitely one that I believe will never be taken for granted! Reminiscent of my day to day duties in an all-boys single-gender classroom, filled with gifted and talented fifth graders, it’s imperative that I mention that no day is the same and that our community of College-Bound Gentlemen is comprised of high expectations and the understanding of failure being a part of success! Teaching a diverse group of gentlemen, I value their opinions and choices, while making it a point to use this time for teachable moments. Since I live by establishing positive relationships with my students and their families, when visitors enter our classroom, they immediately feel the enthusiasm that we share for education, a devout sense of dedication for my craft, and strong sense of accountability (exhibited by students and myself).
In my role as a teacher and grade-level chair, I try to make it a point to serve my students and colleagues in a manner that exemplifies transparency, positive leadership, class, character, and most importantly, trust and respect.
As a teacher, a typical day is a day that envelopes much laughter, learning, and most importantly, love. In our classroom, I try to expose my students to a great deal of sports, the arts, and opportunities for them to engage in reading and analyzing quality literature. With our school being an AVID Elementary School, students demonstrate various qualities of an AVID student, with organization being a tremendous part of our classroom culture. There are many privileges that come with teaching in a single-gender environment, where we have candid conversations that support growth (physically, mentally, intellectually, and socially), through our Man Talk sessions! These sessions offer students the opportunity to build positive relationships with each other, as well as to provide students with the necessary time to speak up and to facilitate discussions. A typical day also involves several workshop models (in mathematics, reading, and writing), small group instruction, and lots of hands-on instructional activities, designed to engage each student intellectually, as well as challenge them.
An advocate for my students and their parents, I see myself as an extension to their family and vice a versa. Most of the time, I find myself taking my boys to a sports event or practice (if their parent/ guardian is unable to make it—due to work); providing after-school tutoring; and even visiting the home environment when working with the whole family, in an effort for them to learn content material, to better support the needs of my students at home.
2.) What’s your education philosophy summed up in one sentence?
If “Knowledge is Power,” then it’s up to us as educators to help students [no matter what] unleash that power, in an effort to transform their dream(s) into a reality!.
3.) Why did you become an educator?
Being an educator has always been my dream—no capping! I find it true that educators possess a great deal of power and influence. The way I see it is quite simple… If I can serve as a positive influence to every student that I come into contact with and rise above the odds, then the opportunities for success are limitless. Growing up, I always had a support system… that said, I always want my students to know that I’m part of their support system!
4.) As an SCASCD Emerging Leader, how do you hope to have a greater effect on education in your community and beyond?
As an SCASCD Emerging Leader, I hope to have a great effect on the system of education in and outside of my community by not limiting myself to experiences, being part of an even greater network of educators, and by providing experiences, on-hand knowledge, and support to stake holders, interested in fixing our educational system—one that does not provide equitable opportunities to all students.
5.) What types of professional development (books, DVDs, webinars, courses) have made a difference in your career?
In my quest to provide equity in education, several types of professional development have contributed to making a difference in my career. Books such as Working on the Work: An Action Plan for Teachers, Principals, and Superintendents by Phillip C. Schlechty; The Energy Bus, The Power of Positive Leadership, and The Power of Positive Teamwork, all by Jon Gordon; Is My School a Better School Because I Lead It, The Assistant Principal, and The Aspiring Principal all by Baruti K. Kafele; and Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess, have all contributed to the way I see my role in education. At this time, I also have to give credit where credit is due, by acknowledging a great bit of the professional development sessions provided through AVID, one specifically focusing on “Culturally Relevant Teaching.”
6.) Was there a pivotal moment when you realized your career choice in education was the correct one? Describe that time.
If I had to choose a pivotal moment as to when I realized my career choice in education was the correct one, I’d have to say the very moment I realized how much of a change I have the potential to make, in the everyday lives of my students.
7.) If you could make one major change in education, what would it be?
If I could make one change in education, it would be to deflate the system of inequity and to even the playing field, for all students, no matter their background.
8.) What is your most rewarding experience as an educator?
My most rewarding experience as an educator is tied to the connections made with my students and their families, as well as the success stories, shared after the many obstacles and challenges they have faced. At this point, I value hearing about the impact that I’ve made on my students and their ability overcome any and everything meant to serve as an obstacle, in the way of their dreams.