Why We Honor Black Educators in Our Communities
Check out these leaders' professional wisdom and innovations during Black History Month and beyond—and their invitation to join the teaching profession.

In Honor of Black Educators

When you believe that teaching is a call to action—that your unique background, experiences and skills can change lives—you have the ability to transform lives around you.

The short month of February doesn't do justice to these leaders in education. Learn from Ryan Parker, Chelsea Achane, Dr. Bedell and author Josh DunnTeJay Johnson, Dena Simmons and Preston Thomas, whose inspiring journeys are helping create a more diverse and inclusive teaching force nationwide.

Ryan Parker

Golden Noise in Education

Ryan Parker

Ryan Parker believes in bringing "golden noise" to the classroom. He understands that teaching looks, sounds and feels like establishing and maintaining justice for all.

Find out why Ryan's human connections and relationships have been what he calls "the ultimate magic of being a teacher."

Chelsea Achane with students

A Life-Changing Detour

Chelsea Achane with students

If you want to feel heard and use your voice, consider teaching. "In my experience, school districts are nurturing environments that help you develop individually and create a family-oriented community that feels like home."

Chelsea knew she was looking for something more in her career, but she didn't realize teaching was the solution. Read her story to discover what she found.

Superintendent Dr. Mark Bedell and author Joshua M. Dunn

Uniting Schools with the Community

Superintendent Dr. Mark Bedell and author Joshua M. Dunn

Educators are often connectors, helping students find their place in the broader world. And in February, this community-building role has a great opportunity to unite schools and local communities.

Catch up with Superintendent Dr. Mark Bedell and author Joshua M. Dunn, who wrote Complex Justice – The Case of Missouri v. Jenkins to learn more about the evolving relationship between KC schools and their black history.

TeJay Johnson with students.

Part of the Solution

TeJay Johnson with students.

TeJay Johnson, former Division I athlete and current professional educator, sees his role "as a mentor—especially to the young black men in this school. I know that I have unique and important things to offer them, shared experiences and a passion for accurately teaching the history of black people in this country."

His story demonstrates the power teachers wield for making change.

Lessons Learned

When you're a teacher, you can use your background and interests to make a difference for everyone you work with. Here's some advice from Ryan, TeJay, Dena and Preston. Click their names to jump to their stories.

Dena Simmons interviewed by Kauffman Foundation.

Empowering Educators of Color

Dena Simmons interviewed by Kauffman Foundation.

Dena Simmons believes, "Teachers need to be able to flex their muscles to really engage with their students. When they feel safe to do so, they can teach in ways that are culturally sustaining that allow students’ lives to be entered into their curricula."

Her story explains why there simply must be better representation for and of educators of color.

Generation Teach fellow, Preston Thomas, shakes hands with a student.

Call to Action

Generation Teach fellow, Preston Thomas, shakes hands with a student.

Preston Thomas understands that his fellowship is more than a summer program. "Far too many public school students in urban communities face the dilemma of not being able to connect with teachers who look like them, who reflect the communities that they come from."

His story proves that teaching is a call to action—and demonstrates the importance of pre-teaching experiences.

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