by: Megan A. Potts
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know how the lack of representation in any space affects communities-specifically the education arena. Studies have shown how a Black child having just one Black teacher can change the trajectory of their life by decreasing high school dropout rates and increasing the simple desire to want a higher education. According to researchers from Johns Hopkins and American University, Black students who are exposed to one Black teacher by third grade were 13 percent more likely to enroll in college. Those who had two Black teachers were 32 percent more likely to enroll in college. One Black educator can make the world of a difference.
However, the harsh realities we are facing both inside and outside the classroom are evident and at times seemingly insurmountable. The daily ways we are challenged by students to administrations to parents. The daily struggle of teaching at times can become overwhelming. However, it is in these moments your “why” must prevail greater than the challenge in front of you. As a community the spirit of perseverance is innate in our bloodstream however, it does not negate the days when the “why'' is faint and blurry. So, it is in those moments I want you to remember your younger self and remember that teacher that made the world of difference. Our community needs us.
Our students need educators who are committed to being present and intentional in their work. When our students do not see themselves being represented in their work, in their classrooms, and in their hallways it reinforces what the other says. That the presence doesn’t matter- but it does. It always has and will. So, as Black educators, we must show up and we must take up space. We must advocate for our students relentlessly. We must challenge them beyond a test metric. We must validate their presence and show them they are seen and that they matter. The work you do doesn’t go unnoticed. The seeds you plants you may never see grow but they are growing. You are growing and as a result, our community is growing. Do not become futile in the daily tasks and obligations that wait for you each morning. Rather find joy in being present and being in a place that was once just a dream.
Megan Potts is a recent alumna of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. Currently, She serves in South Dallas as an Academic Success Coach for sixth grade ELAR with City Year Dallas. This upcoming summer she will be continuing her commitment to education as a member of the 2020 Cohort for Urban Teachers.