I remember all of my teachers. They had such an impact on my life that I don’t think I will ever forget them. My sixth grade teacher, Mr. Locke, was great. He was challenging, but had a knack for making everything seem easy.
My adolescent mind could barely digest our advanced reading class book list, however I don’t recall feeling overwhelmed by it. Mr. Locke introduced me to the works of Maya Angelou and Jack London. In class he nurtured our curiosity and made reading fun. The best part was Mr. Locke lived three houses down from me.
On Friday nights in the summer, he would have these swanky pool parties. I remember peeking through his fence and watching tiki lights glisten off the wine glasses of his guests. I thought I carried a certain privilege because I was his neighbor.
But Mr. Locke never treated me any differently than my classmates. His balance and fairness had a lasting impact on my view of academics. Through his strong pedagogical style, Mr. Locke modeled a type of professionalism that has influenced my role in education. Like him, I also teach in the neighborhood in which I reside.
I am lucky to share a community with my students. We frequent the same YMCA, grocery stores, and subway stations. Having this type of connection fills me with appreciation and solidifies my commitment to education.
My own story as an educator is filled with insecure firsts, heartfelt failures, and golden triumphs. Through these experiences I have learned that one of the most critical tenets that undergirds teaching and learning is the connection you have with your students.
Thus I always strive to have open honest dialogues with them. In this way I am available for critique and in a constant cycle of evaluating and restructuring. Although these changes and shifts can be difficult, they do nothing but enhance and make my work relevant.
Educational relevancy is a theme that I hope underscores this regular column. At its core, this column endeavors to highlight educators in the Bedford Stuyvesant community. I aim to connect to a diverse set of public and private school teachers and professors, administrators, artist educators, researchers and evaluators who have chosen education as a way to encourage critical thinking, community stewardship, social equity, and creativity.
I hope this column gives readers an opportunity to meet a contingent who actively is thinking about the cognitive development of a community. Through classic interview format, I hope my discussions explores how the Bedford Stuyvesant community can shape educational trajectories.
In addition, this column will examine how important policies affect educators and the lives of their students. In the end an aim of this column is to feature reflective thinkers who are endeavoring to make differences in the lives of their students.
I am very excited about this column, and I hope you enjoy its addition to the dialogue on local education.
I look forward to engaging this conversation!