Juanita Educator Chicago

Juanita’s story

The fight for teaching African American history in a way that enables a culturally relevant education is all too often left to individual educators. For example, many believe a “one-size fits-all” regimented course load is required in order to achieve success while others do not support stand-alone courses for African American History. Although we have become comfortable with a limited telling of the achievements of iconic African Americans such as Harriett Tubman and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, this approach is far less likely to lead to the level of influence we are hoping to have in students’ lives.

“My role as an educator is to develop young women and men as positive, productive members of their communities.”

I’ve had the pleasure of using the HistoryMakers curriculum in my classroom since 2001, increasing the engagement of more than 900 students in learning activities. The curriculum is an excellent tool because, in my opinion, storytelling always enhances the critical thinking pedagogy. The HistoryMakers resources require students to appraise evidence and evaluate positions based on the personal story and perspective of the leaders. This leads to a richer understanding of historical events as it relates to prior knowledge.

Juanita uses free resources from The HistoryMakers to inspire her students to learn about African American history.

One of the biggest benefits of using the HistoryMakers curriculum has been school visits by African American HistoryMakers. I have had more than 10 HistoryMakers talk personally with my students and when these leaders come to speak, the students’ lives are positively impacted. Proudly, I have seen an increase of cultural pride among the African American students and a greater awareness of African American culture among all of my students, regardless of ethnic heritage.

The HistoryMakers connects to the overall goals I have as an educator to validate the contributions of African Americans in all aspects of American society. I’m so grateful for the availability of these resources at no cost to the school or individual students. I want my classroom to find inspiration and purpose by studying the trials, triumphs, and challenges of those who came before them. The HistoryMakers meaningfully connects to my educational philosophy and is a priceless resource for improving the engagement of my students.

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