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Which teacher has had the most impact on you? You answered our questions

Male sixth-grade math teacher with textbook

We can all think back to an educator who ignited a love of learning in each of us. For Teacher Appreciation Week, and the 70th anniversary of Brown v. Board, we asked the EdTrust community — advocates, staff, and even teachers themselves — about their favorite teachers, as well as pressing questions regarding race, equity, and the importance of the Brown v. Board ruling.

Why do we need teachers of color in classrooms now? What can policymakers and/or districts do to better support, recruit and retain them?  

“Growing up and attending school in the very segregated suburbs of metro Detroit, I didn’t have a teacher of color until college. But we know that teachers of color benefit all students, so my classmates and I missed out on positive academic and social-emotional benefits, as well as role models of color in our schools.” —Kristen Hengtgen, senior policy analyst, EdTrust, DC

“We need educators of color in classrooms because students of color need to see teachers who look like them. Also, having teachers of color has a significant impact on the life outcomes of students of color. Policymakers and districts should use funding to intentionally recruit and retain educators of color.” —Ronda Taylor Bullock, lead curator at WE ARE, NC

“Teachers of color with similar backgrounds can form a robust and unique connection with their students of color. This connection helps students appreciate their identity, value their experiences and community, and feel valued, heard, and seen. Furthermore, teachers of color often have high expectations for their students, motivating them to succeed. Recognizing and highlighting the work of highly effective teachers of color is crucial, as they play a vital role in inspiring and serving as role models for their educational communities.” —Melissa Collins, teacher, TN

Who is a teacher that has positively impacted you? Who would you like to highlight during Teacher Appreciation Week? 

“Two teachers I would like to highlight during Teacher Appreciation Week are Aaron Hargroves and Christy Drake. They both work at my school and are both retiring this year. Mrs. Drake has inspired me to go back to school and get another degree for me.” —Jamika Walker, seventh grade math teacher, East Ridge Middle School, TN

“I want to highlight high school Social Studies teacher Brian Lampman, at Saline High School in Michigan. Brian supervised me as a student teacher, and I got to watch him use his role and positionality as a white man teaching about DEI and racial justice with compassion, care, and tenacity. He developed a Sports Sociology class that was very engaging for high schoolers, but also an important vehicle to get students talking about social justice. He also helped me find my way to education policy.” —Kristen Hengtgen, senior policy analyst, EdTrust, DC

“I’d like to highlight Jennifer James Cutchens, my eight grade Advanced Language Arts teacher. I attended a predominately white public school in Pace, Florida — I was the only Black kid in nearly every class. I felt isolated, was a victim of bullying, and didn’t really have many friends. Mrs. Cutchens helped me find my voice, made sure to include books by authors of color on our reading lists. She pushed me for greatness and reminded me even in my darkest times that I wasn’t alone, and I could achieve anything I set my mind and heart to — Mrs. Cutchens helped me to dream. Mrs. Cutchens is celebrating over 30 years of public school teaching in Florida, and the lives she’s touched are a testament to her strength in the classroom. I appreciate her every day.” —Ameshia Cross, communications director, EdTrust, DC

“Mrs. Berzina, Mr. Whitehead, Mrs. Robinson, Mr. Garrett, and Prof. Lacey! I miss you all and think about you all the time.” —Robert McGuire, IA

May 17th, 2024 marks the 70th anniversary of Brown v. Board. Why is this ruling important?  

Brown v. Board held that society should not, must not, ignore racial inequality, and in fact should take necessary measures to address it. And yet today, too many students of color do not receive the same education or resources as their white peers. In the aftermath of SFFA v. Harvard and SFFA v. UNC and the overturning of the use of affirmative action, we must remain committed to inclusive schools, rigorous and representative curriculum, a strong and diverse educator workforce – even if our highest courts try to turn back the clock.” —Kristen Hengtgen, senior policy analyst, EdTrust, DC

Brown v Board is important because it codified the importance of integration not only in the student body but also in various elements of school success. Unfortunately, the states fought tooth and nail against integration and once implemented teachers of color roundly lost their jobs, teacher diversity never fully recovered and today due to inequitable housing, white flight, and a school funding model that relies heavily on property taxes the nation’s public schools are more segregated than they were at the height of the civil rights movement. Brown v. Board remains a vital ruling however its essence wasn’t realized by the states charged with implementation.” —Ameshia Cross, communications director, EdTrust, DC

“The Brown v. Board of Education ruling is significant because it declared racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional, challenging the notion of “separate but equal” and laying the foundation for desegregation efforts in the United States. This landmark decision marked a crucial step toward achieving educational equity and civil rights for all students, regardless of race.” —Chelsea Talley, Tarrant County SGA, TX


By: Ed Trust
Title: Which Teacher Impacted You? We Asked, You Answered
Sourced From: edtrust.org/the-equity-line/which-teacher-impacted-you/
Published Date: Fri, 10 May 2024 10:00:04 +0000

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