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Montclair Teachers Visit National Museum of African American History and Culture

Monday, September 24, 2018

Group picture of attendees.Pictured front from left: Soukaina Yamba Barnes, Glenfield social worker; Sally Solo, Hillside paraprofessional. Standing from left: Kay Cox, Glenfield aide; Jason Kaplan, Hillside physical education teacher; Avril Fagan, Edgemont 4th grade teacher; Nadine Quatorze, Glenfield French teacher, Ketty White, Nishuane 2nd grade teacher; Dee Aulderman, Renaissance secretary; Rhonda Smith, Glenfield literacy lab teacher; Amy Smith, Bradford occupational therapist; Amy Fowlkes, Bradford paraprofessional; Nilaja Mussa, Nishuane curriculum support teacher; Badia Abdus-Salaam, DLC; Sherri McBarrows, DLC. Not pictured: Organizer Rodney Jackson, Renaissance social studies teacher

Sixteen Montclair Public Schools’ teachers and 15 South Orange/Maplewood district teachers and staff organized by MapSo Freedom School traveled to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., and to the National Great Blacks In Wax Museum in Baltimore, MD on Sept. 19, 2018. The trip was organized by Rodney Jackson of Montclair’s Teachers Undoing Racism Now (TURN) and jointly paid for by both districts.

The purpose of the trip was to expose teachers to the rich cultural history of African Americans, the horrors of white supremacy and slavery, and the resistance and resilience of the African American spirit with the hope that teachers will apply their experiences from both of the museums into meaningful lessons for their students. In addition, TURN hopes that this trip can be a springboard for teachers to delve more deeply into the African experience in America and to better understand the backgrounds of the students who sit before them.

Attendees learn about their background in order to teach their students.At left: Nishuane second grade teacher Ketty White holding shackles from the 1700s. Each visitor had the opportunity to hold them.
At right: Pictured from left: Rhonda Smith, Glenfield literacy lab teacher; Soukaina Yamba Barnes, Glenfield social worker; Kay Cox, Glenfield aide; Dee Aulderman, Renaissance secretary; Nadine Quatorze, Glenfield French teacher

“This trip was good because it gave us historical backdrops to what it means to be African American,” said Rhonda Smith, Glenfield Middle School reading support teacher. “The African American Museum is awesome. There were all aspects (represented) from slavery all the way up to hip hop. Also, a lot of people were saying that it made them want to know their specific ancestry. For my unit, I would have something to do with cultural identity and DNA for students — who you are culturally.”

TURN challenges Montclair educators to examine their own racial biases to understand how it affect their teaching practices and student outcomes. TURN was created by Montclair educators as a continuation of the work begun in the Undoing Racism workshops sponsored the Montclair School District for all teachers and staff. Over the past year, TURN has grown to include students and community members and welcomes new members.

Updated: 9/25/2018