I grew up in a town 20 minutes outside of New York City, which prides itself on being diverse. On many streets, soccer fields, and playgrounds you will find families of different races, religions and cultures interacting and sharing spaces. However, from a young age I realized that my town existed in the realm of colorblindness. That the numerical diversity that we were so proud of did not equate to awareness, respect, or equality of others. My experiences growing up not only shaped the way I look at the world, but also my role as an educator.
Growing up, everyone told me that I was going to be a teacher because of my love for children; I didn’t believe them. However, in 2008, while working as a director of an after-school program, I heard countless stories from my black and brown boys about how they felt disconnected from school and had negative experiences and relationships with their teachers. As I listened to these stories, two things became evident to me. First, education could and should look different for these boys and second, that I can and need to be part of reshaping black and brown students’ educational experiences. Shortly after my ‘ah-ha’ moment, I went to back to school to get a master's degree in comparative and international education and began teaching at an independent school outside of Philadelphia. I taught there for three years before moving to Northeast Philadelphia, where I currently teach seventh grade African American History.
I attended SEED New Leaders Week in 2013 and it changed my life. I developed tools, strategies, and the confidence to lead educators in the work of creating equitable schools. I also developed a permanent lens, which has helped create an awareness of how the intersectionality of my own identities influences how I see and interact with the world, my students, and my communities. Not only did I love New Leaders Week, I have loved leading a SEED group for the last five years. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve on the SEED national team and to continue the work.