Hey Jonah, welcome to the storm……..

The story of Jonah is an interesting one that I heard retold in a sermon today. Jonah was a prophet of the Old Testament given the charge by God to preach to people in a town called Nineveh to help save them from destruction. Instead of accepting the mission from God, Jonah decides to head to a different town onboard a ship. God placed a wicked storm in the path of the ship that Jonah was aboard because of his disobedience. Weirdly, in the midst of this storm, Jonah fell into a deep sleep below deck on the ship. Now I’ve been on a few boats in my life and even a little wind or rough seas makes me uneasy. Jonah had to be awakened by the ship’s captain who begged him to pray and pled for their lives because he was fearful they were going to perish. Hearing this part of the story today gave me tremendous pause as a result of so many newly “woke” individuals in our country. Jonah seemingly oblivious to the turmoil and tribulation going on around him comfortably slept below deck in a ship and slept soundly. How you might ask? Easily, when you are only concerned with yourself and selfish it becomes rather easy to ignore, block out, or silence the noise around you. When you have a privilege, one of the many perks of privilege is the comfortable insulation it provides. Like the fiberglass insulation people use to keep their homes a comfortable temperature, or extra layers we might wear to protect us and keep us comfortable in cold weather, privilege comfortable provides a sturdy and often exclusive buffer from the plight, suffering, and turmoil of those who are marginalized. Many folx maintain this comfortable buffer, protect their self-interest, and keep these privileged boundaries up for years.

In my 39 years, it has become pretty clear everything as it relates to education and usually in life always, always, always seems to go back to self. What is your intent? What is your motivation? How does this benefit me? To me, the work of education as a means for oppression and not liberation is always rooted in protection or insulation of one’s self-interest. When people humble themselves, check their ego, and actively exercise empathy they become true accomplices fighting oppression and injustice in its many forms. It is equally interesting to me that current buzzwords like diversity, inclusion, privilege, intersectionality, implicit bias, etc. that have been around for awhile are finally making their way to the minds and mouths of those people who actually can fix things (those who maintain power in some form or fashion). I’m interested to see what changes in behavior and actions those in power and with privilege make in their day to day lives with this new-found realization or “awakening.” Even Leslie Mac, one of the co-founders of Safety Pin Box, so perfectly addressed in a wonderful thread what actual change in behavior and positively using your privilege in spaces should look like. Here are my suggestions for things educators should do once you are like Jonah, newly “woke” to the storms of inequity and injustice that are pervasive in society and our schools:

  • Do your homework. I stand on the shoulders of many folx who did and continue to do this work before me. I humbly recognize and honor that regularly. I’ve noticed many people new to this work don’t necessarily do that. Part of this work is researching, reading, and learning more about who has come before and showing respect for their work by elevating it. By doing this, you help solidify your genuine intent to engage in this work and show you are not in it for self-gain or praise. Don’t use your new awareness of issues of inequity and injustice in education to immediately grab a microphone. Instead turn up the volume on someone else’s microphone first and repeat this often.
  • Check yourself. Next big step to this work involves examining your personal life or like Ice Cube rapped “betta check yo self before ya wreck yo self.” How are you daily exercising your privilege in a manner to lift up and/or stand in the margins for others? When involved in conversations or situations where you have privilege, do you regularly decenter yourself? How are you unlearning your biases and bigotry in your personal life? What habits or behaviors do you have that to promote anti-blackness, bigotry, and/or negative -isms? Understand becoming an ally, accomplice, or woke is not a “ta-da” moment or one-time event. It is a long and continual process that few people ever obtain. You also don’t get to self-assign being woke, an ally, or an accomplice, because that comes across very disingenuous and again centers you which is not what this work is about. “Make sure your daily decisions align with ideals you so adamantly advocate for on social media. Online outrage without tangible implementation does nothing to dismantle oppressive constructs.”

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  • Examine your relationships with others. Social media has been wonderful for people to use their platforms to vocally express their beliefs and/or express their thoughts to others as it relates to situations or a cause. But honestly, I worry that not enough of educators are actually doing the work or heavy lifting outside the graphic quotes, platitudes, and buzzword filled tweets I see on my TL. How are you contributing to or helping to maintain oppressive school environments? What sincere effort on your part has been made to make your friend and colleague circles more diverse and inclusive? How are you personally disrupting inequity at your school site? Have you directly addressed and admonished the colleague, family member, or friend who co-signs with those who spew hate?  

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While this isn’t an exhaustive list of suggestions, but these are key ones for those wishing to enter in the arduous task of combating systemic racism, bigotry, inequality, and oppression that plague our schools. As a fellow colleague in this work, I implore you to not enter it lightly, it is way too serious for folx who aren’t really committed or diligent. This work isn’t easy, it is not glamorous, it is sometimes lonely, it is definitely uncomfortable most of the time. For those educators who have been recently awakened from a deep slumber like Jonah, and now realizing and grasping the rampant injustice and inequity in our schools, welcome to the work, it’s a heck of a storm.


Cold Sweats……

Over the past several weeks I’ve been extra fatigued. I figured it is the time of the year and the extra energy I’m expending during the school day with teaching and coaching. That coupled with my intense powerlifting training in the evenings, my body and mind are fatigued and sore. During times of extra fatigue, I’m intentional about three things: increasing both carb and water intake and sleep. I have been good about those for the most part and thought until last night I would get over the fatigue hump.

Last night after sleeping soundly for about three hours, I awoke from a vivid and distressing dream. I was at school like any other day. While walking with my son on campus, someone (I couldn’t see their face) called my son a “cute, colored boy.” The words “colored boy” oozed off their tongue with such grotesque, condescending whiteness. You know, the condescending tone of white superiority and black inferiority experienced by Black people for years and depicted in films like Hidden Figures, Remember the Titans, and 42. I’ve never been so infuriated in my life. Calling my son “colored” is almost as harmful as calling him the n-word. Both of these terms exude anti-black, otherism that creates trauma and mental damage that sometimes cannot be repaired. To have my five-year-old experience some potentially irreversible damage at the hands of a white person, just pushed a parent anger button that I didn’t know existed. I left my son and attempted to chase after the person who called him “colored” but they disappeared. Then, I proceeded to go ballistic all over campus for hours, furiously calling out any and everyone for any whiteness they exhibited and anti-blackness they indirectly expressed to me, my kids, or others. This tirade went on for hours and I had to be escorted off campus and home by my husband.

Suddenly, I awoke and jumped violently from my bed breathing heavily. That dream just seemed so real. I walked to the bathroom, splashed cold water on my face, and wiped the sweat that had built up on the back of my neck and upper back. I returned to bed and stared up at the ceiling. My dream really shook me to the core unlike any other dream I’ve had in recent memory. This dream shook me so much because it felt like an unfortunate formality. Because to me the question is not if this will happen to either of my kids, but when. When will my son or daughter be disrespected, shunned, and/or ostracized because of the melanin in their skin? No matter what my husband or I do we cannot protect either of them from their first experience of being the Black kid called a derogatory name.

Being in a new school environment has really stretched me as a veteran educator. As the only full-time teacher of color in lower school, I’m still trying to find my niche, figuring out who I can really trust, while also being worried about my own two children’s adjustment to the school academically, mentally, and socially. Being surrounded with very little diversity this year after being at a very diverse school for the past five years has been more of a shock for me mentally and emotionally than I expected. I’ve been spoiled somewhat in recent years being apart of a heterogeneous school environment, I forgot what it feels like to be just the one Black person or what tokenism feels like. Working in and seeing my own children experience the same extremely homogenous environment has triggered a variety of emotions. I am well aware and very familiar to being one of the few or only Black females in extremely White settings. Growing up in attending a majority White high school and a PWI for undergrad, I was regularly one of the few (less than 5) or only Black girls in a class or on a team. In HS as a freshman, I was the only Black girl on the varsity basketball team and only one of two on the varsity soccer team. In college, I was the only Black person who took Latin. However, it has not dawned upon me until the past year and more intensely the past few months, that being the token Black in my schooling experiences has actually scarred me more than I realized.

I know this drastic environment change and currently being engaged in adjustments was a major trigger for my dream. I honestly hope to be able to process these rather raw emotions. I’m optimistic I will get better adjusted and find my niche soon. Just know, cold sweats are a constant reality as a Black person in homogenous environment where we and/or our children are the token ones.


Random bullet points….

  • White supremacy is thriving and becoming so normalized right now which is so scary, debilitating, and disheartening. 
  • So many so called ‘Christians’ are more like Pharisees and do not truly reflect or live like the Jesus that I follow and worship.
  • No matter if I yell or calmly mention to educators their words and actions are complicit, whiteness to still flourishes in schools. My ‘voice’ hurts and is becoming hoarse.
  • I’m struggling to write and put together meaningful thoughts in sentence form. 
  • It is very hard to be an educator and parent. 
  • I miss the kids and some of my colleagues from my last school. 
  • When someone gives you feedback, just process it as that, feedback.
  • Although I love my new school, I miss working in public school.
  • I’m becoming more discerning and perceptive of people’s intent and motivation. It has been very helpful for me to avoid potential pitfalls and setbacks personally and professionally.
  • It is emotionally draining to work at the same school your children attend. 
  • I need more educators to move past and stop hiding behind kindness.
  • Grateful to have found people (outside of my family) who I consider sincere friends because they show love, support, and care for me consistently. 
  • I remember one of the major reasons I retired from competing in powerlifting. Meet prep is no joke and not for the faint of heart, body or mind.
  • I forgot about how stressful, tiring but meaningful coaching a basketball team is. 
  • When I ask questions I care. I want you to clarify for me and also for yourself. 
  • As a follower of Christ, it is emotional and very moving to get to witness your children worshipping God weekly. 
  • I’m tired and my random thoughts are done. 

Why do I cause you discomfort?

Wow, dusting off my blog….it is been more than a hot second but for a legit reason. I needed to mentally take a step back from being a connected educator. To be honest being a connected educator has been great for my growth and also helped me establish really great relationships and close friendships with other educators all over the world. With those connections has also created an oxymoronic feeling of murky transparency that I didn’t like and wanted to be away from. There are people that I feel like I know really well and others I thought I knew, but I’m still surprised by their actions and choices. I guess I feel social media should really allow people to “live their truth” but quite often I’ve noticed instead people don’t really do so. Why is that? I do feel connected educators need to do more internal work. What are you really about? What things in education really matter? Am I letting my bubble skew my understanding of the world around me? Am I really a desultory educator? Do I act like a cat and a laser pointer, always jumping the next catchy buzzword or trend? Many things in education are not fun, innovating, trendy, or glamorous. How are you addressing those things? Those are some of the hard questions I wish connected educators really thought about, worked through internally, and honestly answer.

Equity, inclusion, and advocacy work are examples of those topics that aren’t as glamorous. Equity and inclusion aren’t the flavors of the month although many on EduTwitter are treating them as such. Equity and advocacy work can’t be treated like the Hokey Pokey. You don’t get to put one hand in because you finally hear the music that’s been playing for quite some time. Genuine pursuits for equity and sincere advocacy efforts for marginalized groups last a lot longer than a catchy song and require a lot more effort than shaking all about. Oftentimes, especially in the early stages, the work requires you in the words of Mr. Lamar to: “Sit down, be humble.” The equity and advocacy party has been around a very long time. Don’t arrive, attempt to change the music, invite some of your friends, then bounce shortly there after. Don’t arrive on the scene because it’s now the popular place to be, take selfies, and brag about being there once. Don’t ignore the people who’ve been at the party from the beginning or for a very long time and dismiss/ignore their efforts to continue to keep the party bumpin’. It doesn’t work that way. Genuine advocacy work is long suffering, active, visible, and full of humbling moments. Dismissing the work of and not listening to veteran advocates who have come before is disrespectful, ungrateful, and disingenuous. All connected educators must do better in this, stop ignoring and patronizing those working to improve these educational issues with more than buzzword, hashtags, and gadgets.

I’m still a bit baffled by the idea that people think patronizing, minimizing, erasure of people of color is okay. Black women have dealt with erasure since forever (ever, ever) and I feel maybe people think that’s what makes it okay. It is dehumanizing when someone literally removes or eliminates your brilliance, ideas, thoughts, or words. Doubly troubling is when these same ideas, thoughts, and/or words are used for someone else’s gain, ego stroke, or benefit. I respect the following quote from Truman: “it’s amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit” but that adage is faulty for this reason. These accomplishments are tainted because they stem from ego-driven elimination of another individual’s value. When you silence, ignore, or co-opt someone else’s message/idea/thought you see them as less, and not as worthy or valuable. Co-opting is new school form of unpleasant piggy backing. Quite often when you co-opt, you’re changing the value of originator to an object, standing on their shoulders so you can be seen, thus demeaning and dehumanizing them.
In my twelve year career as an educator, I’ve seen a lot erasure, disrespect, inequity and dealt with my fair share as well. I find it so peculiar that no matter the variety and wealth of my experiences and abilities, I still can be treated in educational circles at times as an nonentity. Microaggressions, unfair labels, silencing, co-opting all happen consistently and usually because other people are uncomfortable. In this situation, like most others, the why is forefront in my mind, and the what is a byproduct. Why do I get silenced? Why do I experience microaggressions? The question I’ve now instead begun to ask is this: Why am I causing you enough discomfort so you’re acting this way towards me?

“Shana, you’re so direct.”

“Shana, that’s mean because you didn’t agree with me.”

“Shana, because you don’t smile at me all the time, I think you don’t like me.”

“Shana, you won’t help me when I want you to.”

“Shana, you speak up too much and your tone is aggressive.”

Above are just a few of the things that have been said to me by adults (most of them not to my face) but via written format or my favorite, having someone else deliver the message to me. Labels like advocate, determined, skilled, strong-willed, passionate aren’t always used by some people to describe me. Instead its aggressive, mean, disruptive, trouble-maker, or outspoken. Why? Some of us know why. I know a lot of other educators of color (especially black women) will raise their hands about being described by the latter adjectives more often than not. This is another form of disrespect, devaluing, and erasure that at this point in my career I should not be subjected to.

Again, I ask: Why does my existance cause you discomfort? Do you recognize the reason why yet? Again that internal work is necessary here to answer these hard questions.

Am I supposed to be docile and accept things the way they are? Should I never offer pushback or a reminder to pause and listen? Should I never speak up and speak out when people continue to trivialize serious issues? Should I allow myself to be dehumanized so you can feel better about yourself?

Well, news flash, my responses to the above questions will continue to be nope, nope, nope, and nope.



Scarlet Letters….

Qualifiers…….are right up there for me as one of the top three worse things to hear in conversation (hate-filled statements and lazy excuses are the two others). Although I detest qualifiers in conversations, I am used to hearing them on a regular basis, because I’m a person of color and a woman. Recently, however, I had the opportunity to hear another qualifier used in a conversation with me at work.

Other person: Shana, so we are getting around the time of the year that we talk about next year. What are your plans and ideas? Do you want to stay in your current role or do something else?

Me: I’m not sure. I enjoy educational technology and helping people use technology purposefully, but I miss working with students directly. Luckily with the Collaboratory, I get the opportunity to combine both of my interest working with kids and educational technology.

Other person: Yes, the Collaboratory is amazing. Students are engaged and really enjoying learning. You really took your idea and created an awesome space that is safe for students, they are engaging with technology, and collaboratively learning. “You are such a hard worker, very smart, and the lesson planning and instructional strategies you’ve been able to incorporate across all content areas in the Collaboratory are as good if not better than some instructional coaches who work in our district. And that’s amazing because you were just a health and PE teacher.”

I physically shifted in my chair and a lump gathered in my throat. Wow. That last sentence cut so deep, that I had almost forgotten all of the previous words spoken. This person doesn’t really appreciate me or value my work if he has to use a qualifier to undercut compliments. So really, all you see me as is “just a health and PE teacher.”

I’ve been the technology coordinator in my building for almost two years now. Not to toot my own horn, but I have been successful as a member of the EdTech world during that time frame and been recognized within my district, state, and even nationally. Apparently still with an instructional technology specialist degree, awards, and EdTech certifications, this person cannot see past my two scarlet letters: PE.

I’m a passionate person, but there are two things I have been passionate about for a very long time: working with kids and health and fitness. Physical education seemed like a wonderful and natural meshing of those two deep passions. But why am I still treated like the ugly step-sister because of it? Why am I not seen as the same type of professional as a math or language arts teacher? Why is my ability to effectively educate questioned or seen as less than other educators? Why am I considered not as intelligent or bright as core content area teachers?

I believe in any content area there are bad, good, and great teachers. Yes, there are bad physical education teachers, but there are also bad math, science, and language arts teachers too. Unfortunately, physical educators seem to regularly get a bad rap. As a physical educator, I have been able to make remarkable connections with my students.  I passionately remind my students during the first few days of class if they don’t know how to make their body work at optimal levels there is no way they can be an engineer, chef, architect, or scientist. I always believe my subject is just as important as core content, because I tell students you can’t be a good mathematician if you brain and body are not fueled properly. You cannot invent the next big thing if you are in a hospital bed because of poor health choices.

In addition to the connections in the classroom, I have been able to witness and impact the maturation process and growth of girls I’ve had the opportunity to coach. There is an amazing connection between students and good coaches/physical education teachers. We are older siblings, school parents, mentors, and advocates for our students. Many good physical education teachers and coaches I feel are greatly undervalued, disrespected, and not appreciated by their colleagues and superiors. However, most are so deeply invested in assisting kids, they continue their often thankless work.

Recently, I accepted a position to return to the physical education classroom outside of my current school and district. I’m really excited to return to the classroom and blessed to have the chance to return to my two biggest passions which are fitness and health and impacting kids. I’m also excited to work at a place where my skills and abilities are valued and appreciated. I want to work where being a physical education teacher is not used as a qualifier to devalue me but instead as an amplifier to show gratitude. Although the letters PE are not always valued or respected, I proudly wear those scarlet letters on my chest into my new position.




Solidarity from a cold Saturday and Sunday warmed my heart…..

Solidarity is a word that has been thrown around a lot lately. Not necessarily in edtech, but as it relates to this country and the division and sides/groups/causes that are being selected by individuals. With the climate of this country, definitive lines are being drawn and the unfortunate and blatant ugliness is manifesting itself in bans, bigotry, and bullying behavior. In order to handle the chaotic and corrosive nature of current times, I believe people, especially educators, must ground themselves and solidly stand with a group of like-minded individuals or a cause to combat overwhelming feelings of anxiousness, disappointment, and frustration. To clarify my understanding of the term solidarity, I looked it up recently.



via Google



When examining the definition for solidarity a few words stand out: “unity of feeling or action” and “mutual support.” The feeling part of this definition kinda threw me off, mainly because feelings can be fleeting. I’ve worked with middle school children most of my career and have a four-year-old at home, so I know first hand that feelings change as often as underwear or the wind blowing. Solidarity, in my opinion, is more than feelings and moves a person and unifies a group to consistent, visible action on behalf of a cause. If one is in solidarity with a group or a cause, their support of that group or cause does not waver like feelings often do. Solidarity is not silent and does not pop-up all of a sudden, it is always consistent, supportive, loving, and empowering. True solidarity includes people who are willing to have your back all day, every day. True solidarity includes people who willingly speak up on behalf of the mutual interest of the group frequently, not just on a whim or because it seems cool to do. People truly “about that life” and in solidarity with a group or cause understand and appreciate doing work that is not always seen and praised, but its impact is always felt. Their unified passion for the cause or movement is always authentic.

My first Educon experience was absolutely amazing. To be surrounded by so many gifted minds for the weekend was really humbling. To also be surrounded by authentic solidarity and love all weekend was so surreal. The solidarity I felt with Educolor members during Educon was so emotional and also mental. It was deeper than feelings as it kept me excited, on my toes, and nervous while it also soothed and nourished my soul. The only real disappointment for the weekend was not being able to see my good friend Rusul and getting to facilitate a session with her. I completely respect her reasons for not attending Educon and Educolor members showered her with extra love and messages during the weekend.

Highlights of my first Educon include:

  1. Meeting many members of the Educolor collective in person for the first time. It was surreal to be face to face with people I have conversed with only online but I respect and have learned from over the last couple years. Our interactions reminded me of the importance of the work and struggle our group members deal with daily. The combination of sharing victories and speedbumps was empowering and rejuvenated my spirit immensely.
  2. Being told by Jose Vilson that he “believes in me.”
  3. Hearing from the amazing students of SLA during the conference. Their confidence, knowledge, and passion were a highlight of many in sessions.
  4. Listening to wisdom shared by Audrey, Bill, Jose, and Gary during their sessions.
  5. Educolor family dinner.
  6. Baby Xio…..enough said.
  7. Co-facilitating my first Educon conversation with the amazing Jose Vilson. Although I was completely freaked out, it was such a wonderful conversation and I was humbled to be a part of it.
  8. Very candid and sometimes comical conversations during meals and walks with Mel, Larissa, Xian, Erin, Gabriel, Annie, and Edwin.
  9. Sunday’s panel with Deb Meier and Renee Moore as panelists…..mics were dropped repeatedly. Knowledge shared was memorable and amazing.
  10. Being able to visit Philly for the first time. A tad too cold for this southern girl, but very cool city.



More than one word from 2016……

I realized I had been slacking somewhat in writing on my blog. I know most people started the year with their “One Word” that will carry them throughout the year. I’ve seen some great words chosen: growth, relentless, listen, caring, and perseverance to name a few. But because I like to do things differently, I would like to reflect on last year’s highs, lows, and learning experiences with seven words.

  1. Mentors:  One of the many things that 2016 taught me was the value of having a mentor(s). Mentors help guide you through potential trouble spots, offer wisdom for day-to-day and larger decisions, and help celebrate your successes with you. It is truly a Godsend to have found individuals to mentor me in the beginning stages of my edtech leadership journey. If you are an educator and don’t already, please find a mentor. Never underestimate the value of having a quality mentor in your corner who will not allow you to settle for anything less your best.
  2. Educolor: I’m truly blessed, humbled, and grateful to be a member of this collective. Educolor is a group of truly diverse and brilliant individuals desiring and pushing for change in education. They provide me the expertise, encouragement, wisdom, love, support, and empowerment to continue to fight status quo mentalities and practices that plague some educators and schools. Some members I have gotten to know better, than others, but unity in purpose, no matter member location or current position, never wavers for Educolor. I’m grateful for all members of this group who have really put others on notice that change needs and will happen for marginalized groups in education.
  3. Individualism: There were quite a large number of significant celebrity deaths in 2016. Prince, David Bowie, Carrie Fisher, Gene Wilder, Muhammed Ali, and George Michael to name a few. The significance of their deaths aside from their incredible talent and ability within their respective craft was their unwillingness to conform. For most of these people, individuality was more important and valuable than anything else to them. Currently, we have so many people that would rather be Minions than be a boss and own their lives. Quit piggybacking off the efforts, work, and voice of others and own your voice and what you stand for. Be you. Individualism is what makes humanity beautiful. Be authentic and live your truth. An important lesson many should realize that being like everyone else and following the crowd will have you going aimlessly in circles, likely lead to mediocrity, and also increase the likelihood of electing someone nowhere near capable of running a country. Be you.
  4. Trolls: I wish I was talking about the animated film that my two children thoroughly enjoyed and still love singing the Justin Timberlake song from the soundtrack, but unfortunately I’m not. I’m also not talking about the grumpy old troll under the bridge on Dora the Explorer® even though he was actually tamer and nicer than the ones I had the “pleasure” of hearing from. 2016 was the year that I dealt with a whirlwind of trolls on Twitter. I do not have a problem with people disagreeing with what I have to say, but the appalling, egregious, and toxic nature of the tweets I received last year surprised me. After a number of my tweets that mentioned the need for educators to discuss race, privilege, bias, and social justice in classrooms, I was told I should be jailed, that I was on meth, and that I should be fired and hurt just to name a few. I was astonished by the hate that spewed from eggs and eagles avatars on my timeline. The brilliant educator and activist, Jose Vilson recently wrote a blog post on how he handles trolls. His blog was very empowering and has helped provide clearer perspective and guidance for handling trolls that I know I will likely deal with again in 2017, so I now will be ready for them.
  5. Silence: 2016 was roller coast year of events including the senseless deaths of black males at the hands of police officers, US election shenanigans and nonsense, and clear lines in the sand being drawn in by people in our country. The other thing that stood out as well was the deafening silence from many educators in relation to the numerous -isms that ran wildly, loudly, and rampantly in the US last year. Complicit behavior has no color. Educators must remember it is our responsibility to speak out and many educators chose instead to be safe and say nothing. That is unfortunate and willfully negligent too. Part of our professional practice includes creating spaces in our classrooms and schools that are safe for all students. In order to create that safety, the air must be clear and schools/classrooms must be void of biases, hidden   -isms, and full of humility. I was very disappointed to see a number of educators not use their platform and social media following to discuss such issues. However, I am encouraged and will remain supportive of those educators who started or continued actively to push the dialogue. Solidarity is not passive and requires action. I look forward to hopefully seeing true solidarity from more educators in 2017.
  6. Vision: Establishing a vision my first few years as technology coordinator has been crucial to the success I experienced professionally last year. More important to me than accolades, was the ability to impact the learning culture at my school in 2016. From new PD styles, to STEM camps, to a Collaboratory, there is now a buzz in our building that learning can use technology or not but still be meaningful, enjoyable, and beneficial for all kids. Without the purpose, drive, and an ultimate vision of what could and should be in my building the successes experienced in 2016 would not have been possible. I am blessed at my ability to make a meaningful impact last year.
  7. Family: My immediate family had a wonderful year with successes and growth spiritually, emotionally, and for my little ones physically too. The other amazing thing is that I was able to add to my family through my connections created online. There are a number of people who I know have my back, have encouraged me, and reciprocated unconditional love. I am blessed and grateful to have added these individuals to my family and look forward to continuing to water, nurture, and grow these relationships in 2017.


Okay, last word, well actually it’s two words: Hidden Figures. Wow, just wow. Not only is this film superb, it is a true story adapted from the brilliant novel by Margot Lee Shetterly that I’ve started reading recently as well. It is amazing what these women of color accomplished and the success that others were able to experience because of their brilliance. The ability to demonstrate greatness, despite being given very little appreciation and opportunity to shine is remarkable. I am grateful that I was able to see this movie twice with my daughter as well as the opportunity to read the novel with her. This movie and novel both have proven impactful and provided me additional resolve to fight the good fight for marginalized groups as it relates to opportunities in schools and in edtech. If you haven’t seen this movie, please go see it and also go read the novel. They are both a must!

Here’s to a great 2017. I wish all educators success, hope, true purpose, passion, and desire to work tirelessly to equalize the playing field for all students. We all will hopefully use 2017 to improve on our professional practices and intentions and ultimately make things education better for ALL students.


On the other side….

The beauty and simplicity of parables that Jesus told I’ve always found remarkable. His ability to use a parable to vividly break down a complex idea into simpler things or to silence his critics was astonishing. Although I enjoy a number of the parables in the Bible, one really has been on my mind lately with the state of affairs in the world.

Luke 10:29-37 (NIV) via Bible Gateway 

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[e] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

The parable of the Good Samaritan is equal parts complex and simple. Jesus legitimized the lives all of the members of humanity while condemning the behavior of the self-righteous, non-empathizing ones. It is important to note that using a priest as well as a Levite was purposeful because both were well versed and aware of The Law (i.e. The Ten Commandments), but were willfully refusing to follow the two greatest commandments given by Jesus. It is also interesting to note that both individuals passed on the other side of the road from the beaten man. They both saw a man that needed help, care, and support, but instead exercised their privilege, dismissively choosing to walk by him on the other side of the road putting him and his needs out of sight and out of mind.

This story has parallel applications to the educational setting. During the past year, I’ve noticed larger numbers of “priest” and “Levites” which is unfortunate and problematic for our students and our schools. Priests are those educators who hypocritically talk a good game among groups of people or in public places where they are seen, but in private meetings or where there is no fanfare or applause they blatantly ignore or do not directly address problems/issues regarding race or bias. Levites (experts of the Jewish law) are those educators who fully understand the system and its inequitable nature, but willfully choose not to offer visible support or take action steps for those dehumanized and oppressed by the system.


Until people of color are embraced and our humanity is equitably recognized all lives really do not matter. This work to improve equity for all starts in our schools. I strongly encourage all educators to stop ignoring racism, inequity, and bias in our schools. Stop walking to the other side of the road because the pain and scars of racism and bias do not directly affect you. Stop working in the comforts of your privilege and willingly ignoring the damage that racism and bigotry can cause and instead speak out. Complicity and complacency both have no color, gender, ethnicity, or religion. Walking to the other side of the road and ignoring your neighbors who are attacked from multiple directions makes you culpable too. Educators if you have not already, please show mercy to your neighbors (students and fellow educators) who are affected by racism, bigotry, and biases. Empathize with them, then speak out and against those individuals and systems which oppress and attack. Until more educators decide to truly become “Good Samaritans” and love our neighbors as themselves, our issues with all the -isms plaguing society will continue to hang over our schools like a cloud. We all have the power and responsibility to empower those around us, to shape our classrooms and schools into a much better place for future generations to succeed and thrive, not just get by and survive.


Time for the next round…..

I apologize in advance for this post. My feelings and emotions are still a bit of a wreck after this past Tuesday. I honestly had a bad feeling about the election for awhile and even shut down my social media accounts because I just could not read and dialogue about the ugliness anymore.

Last week was rougher than I even anticipated. The last time I felt so disheartened and depressed was when my grandmother passed away during the summer of 2014. This week I barely slept, prayed earnestly while crying, I didn’t eat until yesterday, and even felt no desire to lift weights which is something I always enjoy. When my kids woke up Wednesday morning and asked who won, I had to say Donald Trump did. My son started crying and my daughter said “are you kidding me? Mom, how does a man who clearly says mean things about brown people and Muslims going to be in charge of the US? I don’t understand, you always tell me that good beats evil, how does someone who acts like a bully win?” I told her I don’t know, but God is in control and your dad and I love you. That was really all I could muster up to say. I didn’t want her or my son to know how sad, disheartened, and low I felt too about the election results.

During the drive into school, I recounted in my mind all of the numerous racist, bigoted, sexist incidents I’ve experienced in my lifetime. The first one I remember happened when I was only a six-year-old. As pulled into the school parking lot, I delayed getting out of my car. I had to wipe the tears starting to wail up in my eyes as I remembered all of these hurtful things:

  • “Black people usually don’t test into the gifted program, so I’m surprised you did.”
  • “You’re an Oreo, you know, your black on the outside, but really white on the inside.”
  • “You’re a different kind of black person, you know articulate and smart.”
  • “That’s surprising you got into Wake Forest academically, I figured you got an athletic scholarship”
  • “You’re really smart for a black girl. It’s very rare.”
  • “How do you know all of this technology stuff as a woman?”
  • “What are you mixed with, I know you can’t be just black?”
  • “You think you’re such a good player, don’t you N—–r”

These were just a few of the many incidents I’ve experienced that I recounted in my head. I couldn’t hold back the emotion and wept in my car for several minutes before walking into school. All of those hateful experiences I and countless other marginalized people experience(d) at the hands of white people, was somehow being rewarded. I could not believe that other adults, drank in small sips or big gulps, the Kool-Aid Trump served. Trump’s campaign centered on hateful rhetoric and no real definitive plan or answer on how exactly things would be made “great again” in the US. He belittled, disparaged, scoffed at, and disrespected pretty much any and everyone. How did we get to the point that Americans thought this behavior by anyone, let alone the potential leader of the United States was acceptable and okay?

I finally composed myself enough to walk to my office. The remainder of Wednesday and the rest of this past week, I felt my larynx had been ripped from my throat. I felt and remembered the scene in the original movie Roots, when Kunta Kinte’s spirit was finally broken enough from mistreatment and the beatings to assimilate and take his slave name, Toby. America’s decision to elect a mediocre, unqualified and hate-spewing white man to its highest office deflated me. I felt no matter what I did, accomplished, shared, apparently a lot of people still don’t believe my life or the lives of other marginalized people really matters. No matter what I do, a majority of people will still see me as a     n—-r, and I can’t fix that.

I am very uneasy of the direction that our country will go, but will remain prayerful. I’m grateful for my friends who have given me space during this time of grief, but have also reached out and provided comforting words, hugs, and encouragement. They believe my life has value and that I cannot quit fighting. Although the jolt I received election night was debilitating, I now realize I cannot stay down. I must continue to fight not only for myself but for my two children, as well as all marginalized students’ lives. I must follow the lead of those in Educolor who have brilliantly done this work and resiliently and wisely used curve balls thrown at them as a reason to grab a bigger bat so they can knock the next pitch out of the park.

I also must continue to fight in the bubble of education and edtech against those who throughout this election have remained silent or complicit to the hate that has infiltrated our schools. The silence and complicit behavior in schools have produced graduates who voted for a man who ran on a platform of hate and disrespect. This silence and hate will not be fixed by safety pins but instead by actual action and organized activism by the adults in our buildings. We need educators who care about educating all students as well as a desire to break down inequities within the educational system through positive deviance. Educators must be reminded to keep their privilege in check in order to reverse things in our buildings. All of these things, I’m capable, have been, and will continue to try to do. Although I’m having to ease myself back into this fight after a big sucker punch that has left me woozy, I’m putting gloves back on and will be coming out of my corner when the bell rings.

The Message

When I turned on my phone the other morning I received multiple notifications: one for my good friend’s birthday (who is awesome) and the second one was that my blog has been around on WordPress for exactly one year. Wow, one year really?

This blog has been a huge undertaking for me as a very private introvert, but has provided others a window into my world, my brain and my life over the past year. There have been so many changes for me mostly professionally and seeing my growth over the past year has been mind blowing. There has not been a time in my professional life until recently where I felt like what I said mattered or that people listened to me. I was chillin’ and quite comfy on my island. Even though my island was comfortable for the most part, my spirit was still restless. During most of those ten years it felt “like a jungle sometimes” and I regularly was going under. This blog (which I would not have started unless suggested to do so by Rafranz), has really allowed me the freedom to carve a space where my thoughts and words matter and are heard. Instead of those feelings of restlessness or mental gymnastics often felt on my island, I write as a form of release (along with powerlifting, which helps too). Blogging and this means of verbal expression has helped calm me as the crazy world of edtech and inequality in schools seems to always push me “close to the edge.” Although I have this blog, keeping my head/emotions in check and keeping things close to the vest is essential to the space I’m currently working in. Despite the prohibitive nature of my current workspace, I feel I have always navigated this edtech blogosphere authentically and earnestly, although there is still always more work to be done.

As I’m finishing his book, Jose said “I don’t see myself as the only one who has this voice.” This statement so powerful and humble was one of the many from This is Not a Test that has rang true to me. There are so many more competent, wise, hard working educators who have come before me that still actively work and speak out against the system. I’m honored to work along side and support from behind some of them in my own way. I’m also continuing to connect with, support, encourage, and cheer for these determined activists in our schools and communities. Their commitment and unrelenting drive to bring change to our schools and districts is inspiring and motivating. It reminds me that whatever I can do, even small acts, can play a role in flipping the script on business as usual mindsets in school. I am glad that I have begun using my blog as a means to share my voice as well as a provide messages of solidarity and support for those educators/activists who “are about that life.” Right now my only question is why didn’t I do this sooner? 

My message isn’t always pretty or fancy and includes moments of struggle and frustration but the message won’t waver. It will always remain a light that can’t be completely hidden or covered. This message is one of continued fight through actions and words against status quo, no matter how uncomfortable it makes people feel. It is through the constant living and preaching of this message by myself and countless others that those tip toeing around will begin to step their game up and do better for all kids. I know I’ve stepped on a few toes already, but I also know I’ve helped some of these same people recognize what they bring to the table in schools is not enough and should be better. I know my little dent or pocket of influence might not mean much to some right now and that’s okay.  My purpose and intent will always remain true which makes the dent matter. I hope by this time next year when I’m celebrating year two of my blog, the dent is bigger and more toes have felt the sole of my shoe only because more changes are being made. I commit to remain steadfast with the intent to take one step at a time delivering the message, following the blueprint and footsteps of those great educational leaders who keep blazing the trail and have shown me the way. So to them I give a salute and say, “keep on moving, don’t stop, no…..”