My 6th grade English teacher, Mrs. Barnes, taught me how to write multi-paragraph essays in different genres. It sounds mundane, but those writing skills have carried me all the way through my PhD program. She was the only Black teacher I had until college! ~Ingrid O'Brien
Mrs. Presley's third grade class in Waukegan, Illinois was one of the Best at Whittier Elementary, I will never forget you! Rest in Peace, sweet Spirit~~ #dayumbreastcancer ~Carolyn Ki
From Mrs. Callen Jack in kindergarten at my small, rural, public K-12 school to Dr. Joy Gayles in both my M.S. & Ph.D. programs at public research universities, #MyBlackTeacher had a huge impact on my formal education & my professional pursuits in the field of education. I cannot thank these women enough! ~Sonja Ardoin
My Black teacher was an absence, a wish and a dream. There were no Black teachers where I grew up in Upstate Ny. As one of the few Black students there, who felt alone and alienated in some ways. I only knew my Black teacher as an unsatisfied hunger that ate away at my stomach. ~Dirk Tillotson
I consider Marva Collins to be the teacher of all teachers. It was when I first read her book "The Marva Collins Way" that I decided that my calling in life was to teach. While we only met once, her ideas and her passion--her brilliant mind and warm heart--have always guided me, and continue to do so presently. Today, when I teach teachers, I present Marva Collins as the role model, the archetype, of the great teacher who day in and day out is making our world a better place.
Tal Ben-Shahar is an influential author and lecturer. He taught two of the largest classes in Harvard University’s history, Positive Psychology and The Psychology of Leadership.
Today I want to honor the creative spirit of Mr. Adam Artis! I've known many wonderful black teachers, but Mr. Artis made me WANT to be an educator, an actor, an activist, and a writer. (And showed me that I could be all of those things, and more!)
I was a white kid bused into a predominately black school in the early, often contentious, days of desegregation in the Boston Public Schools. Mr. Artis was a smart, kind, and thoughtful teacher - the kind of person that I wish every kid had the opportunity to know.
He was THE 5th grade teacher who everyone wanted for their final year in elementary school. (For instance, in second grade, I remember wearing my Alice in Wonderland dress for more than a week because his class was putting on their version of Alice in Wonderland, and I wanted to be a part of it!)
When I was finally in his class, I remember laughing a lot in his classroom while we learned. Feminism (or "Women's Lib" as we called it) was a BIG deal in the 1980s. A bunch of us girls were always writing feminist slogans up on the board to see how he would react. He engaged us in these activist inspirations, and included our passion for these themes in the plays he wrote.
When Mr. Artis wrote a play for us in my 5th grade year, he called me at home to ask if I would play the few "adult" role. I will never forget how honored I felt by that phone call. It was an example of how thoughtful he was, and how aware he was of each of his students strengths and needs. (I think he knew I would be mortified if he's asked me at school!)
I am sad to say that I haven't been back to visit Mr. Artis, and can't find much on the internet about him. But everything I have found echoes my own experience of pure magic in that most golden of years. Thank you for your creative, loving inspiration Mr. Artis! I will never forget you, and I absolutely know that I am an an educator, activist, writer, and actor because of you.
Melita Noel is the Executive Director of Censored2Celebrated
My favorite black teacher was Minnie Williams at Lake Forest Junior High School in Wilmington, NC. Actually, Ms. Williams started as a teacher but really impacted my life when she became our guidance counselor. I was a . . . um . . . challenging student. My grades were good, but my behavior (for many reasons left for another day) was not. I was often sent to the principal's office, who in turn would send me to Ms. Williams' office. At wit's end, Ms. Williams said one day, "I'm not sure what to do with you. You are obviously smart and your grades are good, but you keep getting into trouble. I think it is because you are bored and unchallenged. I think placing you in Gifted and Talented next year (8th grade) might help." And she did. And it did - help, that is. I did a complete turnaround. My grades got even better, and my behavior improved drastically. And it was all because Ms. Williams saw beyond the immediate circumstances and recognized my potential. She put her money where her mouth was, and took a risk on me. That show of faith deeply affected me and completely impacted my academic and professional trajectory. And, for that, I am always grateful and forever indebted to Ms. Williams.
Reggie Shuford is the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania ACLU chapter.
My favorite black teacher was named Mrs. Horton. She was my 8th grade math teacher and helped me both understand math and that math was not some esoteric thing but something able to be understood by anyone if you applied yourself. She was active in our community and served as a role model for children black and white. When she died recently there was an outpouring of stories from across my little town in Tennessee of how much she'd affected the lives of so many. ~Matthew