On Tea With Teachers episode 7 Part 1, I talk with Cheryl Jones, a former music teacher who now works with Veterans as a Wellness Chaplain. Cheryl lived a comfortable life in Texas as a child of the 60s in a sheltered, middle class black neighborhood, even though she experienced white flight first hand. Though she vaguely remembers her father dealing with racism at his job, her parents shielded a lot of the effects of racism from her. The positive influences of role models guided her through her teenage years. It wasn’t until the late 70s when she attended university in the Midwest, did she truly began to feel the sting of racism. To do this day, however, Cheryl continues to look at life positively, with just a pestering cynicism as she follows the current political climate and news reports of shootings of black men. Cheryl is now a role model herself as a teacher, chaplain and mother of a college-aged daughter.
Growing up in Austria, Tarek Hbeichi, my guest on episode 6, had a pretty tranquil life. Aside from the occasional teasing, Tarek got on fairly well with others in his community. It wasn’t until later in his life he realized that he was being singled out for the way he looked. Tarek moved to the states with his mother, but lost contact with his Palestinian father after an unpleasant divorce. Despite all this, life continued to treat him fairly. When the 9/11 attacks happened, things changed. As suspicions of Muslims and other Arabs increased, Tarek felt he had, in his own words, a “target placed on his back.” These life experiences shaped Tarek and how he views the world. He currently works in Amman, Jordan as a Special Education Teacher.
On Episode 5 Part 2, I continue my conversation with Jennifer Sloop, a learning specialist in Washington, D.C. She begins with her recollection of the inequities she noticed in her advanced classes while growing up in Indiana and how that’s impacted her views on race. She provides a stark reminder of how privilege can reveal itself when she recalls a meeting with a parent about standardized tests. Also, Jennifer recounts a time when she was told to pursue a minority scholarship even though she is white, how she has come to terms with own racism and finally, why it’s so important to allow kids to have time to play during school.
On Episode 5 Part 1 of Tea With Teachers, I chat with Jennifer Sloop, a veteran educator who is currently working as a learning specialist in Washington, D.C. We discuss a range of topics, focusing on the realities of choosing between motherhood and career and how that causes some internal friction with her feminist ideals. We share stories of our upbringing during the 80s and how her Indiana white working class roots has impacted her and her husband raising 2 daughters. And as much as I try to avoid it, we talk about the recent election. She contemplates how her Indiana roots intersects with race, privilege and politics...and cheerleading.
We’re back with Episode 4 Part 2 of Tea With Teachers. I continue my talk with 1st grade teacher Beth Simmonds from the KIPP Promise Academy in Washington, D.C. We begin with her views on race, privilege and the value of listening. She ponders the challenges of being a white educator in a predominately African-American community and hypothesizes as to why charter schools may not necessarily be the answer to addressing equity in education even though she currently works at one.
On a grey, rainy day right before Inauguration Day, I sat down Beth Simmonds, a 1st grade teacher at KIPP Promise Academy in Washington, DC. She reflected on her parents’ influence during her childhood, specifically her dad’s involvement in their community and the importance of her mom’s advocacy of her when diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder. Also, the challenges of talking about this disorder with her students. We discussed whether or not the No Excuses approach is the right one for kids and how Beth creates a safe space in her classroom.
In Part 2 of Episode 3, I continue my conversation with Marielys Garcia, Dean of Culture at the charter school I work at. We begin with her perspective on comments made by now Attorney General Jeff Sessions when he singled out Dominican immigrants on the senate floor. Then we dive into her role as Dean as we explore the challenges of using suspension as policy, how she deals with her own implicit biases as a woman of color in her position and the power of de-escalation as a tool for conflict resolution.
There are two parts of Episode 3 with my guest Marielys Garcia. She is the Dean of Culture at my charter school. One day, I’ll talk to teachers from other schools, I promise. Nonetheless, the work she does is valuable and her story is certainly worth listening to. In part one, we talk about her sheltered, but happy upbringing in Queens and Brooklyn as an Afro-Latina Dominican woman. Also, you’ll hear Marielys describe her experience at an Afrocentric school and the role that played early in her teaching career. We touched on how being a woman impacts her role as a dean, especially when addressing behavioral issues and building relationships with students.
On episode 2 of Tea With Teachers, I talk to another coworker of mine, Mike Conners. He, just like me, is an ELL Teacher at EL Haynes Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. Mike and I explore his experience in the military, his depression that followed and how all of this prepared him for teaching. We delve into what it was like growing up in a small, conservative town in Idaho with white supremacists in the vicinity. You’ll also hear how being white and in an interracial marriage with three biracial children has influenced him.
Join me on my very first episode of Tea With Teachers as I talk to Jessica Law, a 6th year teacher, about her upbringing in the blue-collar town of Erie, PA, reflections of her time in college, experience teaching refugee children and the mood in her classroom post-election day at her current school, E.L. Haynes Public Charter School in Washington, D.C.