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Black Teachers, Black Excellence and The Legacy of Hope in the Classroom

TFA alumni reflect on the presence and importance of Black teachers growing up and how it influences the way they perceive and exhibit excellence and leadership to their students.

By The TFA Editorial Team

February 4, 2020

The Importance of Black Teachers in the Classroom

Teach For America alumni and corps members reflect on the importance of black teachers during their childhood and the impact representation had on their perception of self-confidence, excellence, leadership, and achievement.

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Experiencing Black Excellence in the Classroom

Ashley Okana-Matthews (Chicago '14) - Assistant Principal at Intrinsic Schools

As soon as I got to college, and I had that first teacher of color, I realized how impactful it was it actually really shaped my future pathway. It shaped what I decided to study what I decided to do with my life. Moving forward, I felt so much more comfortable in that classroom I felt heard; I felt seen.

Jamyle Cannon (Phoenix '10) - Founder & Executive Director of the Bloc Chicago

A lot of times when people talk, particularly to Black kids about their futures, they talked about things that they don't want them to be. "I don't want you to go to jail. I don't want you to get hurt. I don't want you to be poor." But I would like to serve as a positive example for what kids could be so or even help them find positive examples of their own because not everybody shouldn't want to be like. But to be there as a person to say, that gets to say don't just look at what you don't want to be but dream about what you can be. I think is an important role.