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129. AI as Thought Partner

Dr. Richard Charles has probably forgotten more about mathematics and technology than most of us will ever know.

This brilliant scholar and change-maker of Trinidadian and Venezuelan heritage joined Gerardo for a conversation that is only the tip of the iceberg. An authentically intellectual and curious learner, Dr. Charles represents most what what we dream of being in school district leadership. He is philosophical and a problem-solver, and his passion for prime numbers is only out-matched by his determination that ALL DPS students have access to the best education available to them.

Dr. Charles shares his passion for ways in which generative AI can support us at all levels of education. You will feel a little out of your depth on this episode, but stick with it. There is much to glean from this conversation.

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Chicanologues 08. The Vibes and Brilliance of Zandra Jo Galván, ALAS Superintendent of the Year

Zandra Jo Galván joins me for a fun and inspirational conversation on this week’s Chicanologues! Celebrated by the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS), Zandra Jo now leads the school district that raised her, Greenfield Union in the Central Coast region of California.

Growing up the youngest child of Mexican immigrants, Zandra Jo was inspired to become a teacher by her older sister. At just 10 years old, Zandra Jo knew she wanted to take this journey. When she was elevated to serve as superintendent of the district that educated her, 90% raza, she became everything that a leader should be: joyous, engaged, motivational, and creative.

But she is not simply a “big energy” leader. She is a problem-solver who acts on data in meaningful ways. She shares with us her biggest successes, and reminds us that educational justice that is culturally sustaining and empowering is possible from the superintendent’s office.

Oh, and her top five is absolutely next-level.

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Dopemas Time is Here!

Gerardo and Kevin are here to accompany you through this holiday season! Whether you celebrate or not, we gotchu, and we hope to bring some affirmation and encouragement to you in these times that defy description.

As you know, Kevin has moved into school leadership, halfway through his first year as an assistant principal. He shares the highs, the lows, and reflects on being positioned to make a greater impact for the students in his community. Gerardo shares the hard-earned lessons of sixteen months as a central office manager, and shares the encouragement he has found in his work.

But ya boys haven’t forgotten what it’s like to be a classroom teacher. Teaching is our mother tongue, and no matter what other jobs we learn and become proficient, conversant, even fluent in, our hearts and minds will always be those of teachers. We hope we can encourage you to rest, reflect, and appreciate yourself.

Plus we share our holiday wish lists.

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“An Island Beyond Yourself” Adam Gacka and Nkanga Nsa Discuss TEACHER film

It is no secret that the teaching profession has become increasingly challenging, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. For those of us who taught before and through the pandemic, it was never easy. Always challenging, always demanding, always underpaid. Kevin and I have both left classroom roles (although being an administrator is also difficult), and we are both still a little, what’s the word, surprised? When folx choose teaching in these times.

Filmmaker Adam Gacka, founder of Production House in Chicago, was hired to make a promotional video for the ambitious Chicago Teacher Residency and during the course of filming, got to know many of the teachers in the school. In particular, as he learned about Nkanga Nsa, a resident in the program, he felt that her story needed to be shared. So the result was Teacher, a film that would document her journey through her residency, as well as that of the community around her. As Adam boldly declares, saving our teachers will save our democracy.

Adam and Nkanga join us for an in-depth conversation on one teacher’s experience, the ongoing work to ensure that our American teaching corps better reflect children in most classrooms, and the ambitious dream to become “an island beyond oneself” in Nkanga’s words.

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2023 National Teacher of the Year Rebecka Peterson’s MANY Good Things

This week’s guest is a direct challenge to how many of us are living our education lives in 2023. Believing is hard. Optimism is something we can switch on with students, when we need to maintain our authority in the classroom, but we struggle to live in optimism. Look, we get it. Teachers are entering yet another school year of unrealistic pressure, political attacks, and dwindling capacity to teach our students and live joyfully.

Rebecka Peterson has an idea for all of us.

Rebecka Peterson, the 2023 National Teacher of the Year, is a math teacher who loves stories.

Rebecka has taught high school math classes ranging from intermediate algebra to Advanced Placement calculus, for 11 years at Union High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Amid a difficult first year of high school teaching, she found the “One Good Thing” blog. She credits daily posting there to helping her recognize the beautiful and positive experiences occurring in her classroom, which inspired her to stay in the profession. She has since contributed 1,400 posts to the blog. As Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, she has visited teachers across the state to highlight their important work through the Teachers of Oklahoma campaign. 

As National Teacher of the Year, Rebecka plans to use her platform to highlight teachers’ stories of the good that’s happening in education. Teaching is a profession that affords creativity, autonomy and purpose, and Rebecka believes that highlighting the stories of joy happening in classrooms across the country will help encourage current teachers and attract new educators to the profession. 

Rebecka is a proud immigrant of Swedish-Iranian descent and lived in several countries around the world as her parents traveled as medical missionaries. Her own experience with supportive teachers who celebrated her diversity and math abilities informs Rebecka’s efforts to create a supportive and accessible classroom for students. She values listening to students’ stories as a way to better understand them and elevate their voice. 

Before joining the faculty at Union High School, Rebecka taught for three years at the collegiate level. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Oklahoma Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in mathematics from the University of South Dakota. She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with her husband, Brett, and son, Jonas, and she enjoys reading, crafting and playing board games.

Check out Rebecka’s contributions to the One Good Thing blog!

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he 2023 Summer Revolution Mixtape is here, at last! It’s late, but as friend of the podcast Marylin Zuñiga told us so many years ago, we gotta decolonize time, y’all! We know you are mostly back in the teaching game, but the time for radical imagination is always RIGHT. NOW.

The mixtape series is when we bring experimental, cutting-edge and unexpected ideas to you to consider as you enter another year guiding students. We hope to challenge and inspire you with these conversations.

Generative Artificial Intelligence, best identified through apps like ChatGPT, stands to hit education like that meteor that did the dinosaurs in, and if we aren’t careful, it will do the same to us in education. So argues our guest, Ben Farrell, a principal at a school that had the audacity to embrace this terrifying technology.

Is it the pedagogical equivalent of Oppenheimer’s experiment, or is it like the invention of pockets? Sorta depends on who you talk to. If you talk to Ben, he will tell you some of his school’s generative AI practices, and how we may all learn from them. No spoilers, tho. Y’all gotta listen.

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Chicanologues 04. The Trailtinos’ Laura Cortez

Laura Cortez was a soccer player in Texas. Her coach required that players run track and cross country in order to maintain their fitness for the season. A self-identified tejana, she grew up with community, culture, and of course, Selena.

Having relocated to Colorado, Laura, along with Victor Fallon, formed the Trailtinos, a Latiné running collective that spans generations, experience levels, and culture. I had a chance to run with the crew, a nice 7-miler that was extremely hard without water. The conversations were incredible, and it was beautiful to see so many members of our raza prioritizing fitness, wellness, and community.

Laura joins me to discuss the formation of the Trailtinos, and the importance of community wellness.

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2022 Hawaii Teacher of the Year & National Finalist Whitney Aragaki plus Sub John Arthur

For Asian American/Native Hawaiian/South Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we are spotlighting the stories, the experiences, and the wholeness of AANHSAPI teachers, their histories, and the communities they serve. They are part of our teaching force, battling inequities on behalf of their students and themselves.

Whitney Aragaki (she/they) is an educator, parent, and learner from Hilo, Hawaiʻi.  She supports students to learn through a lens of abundance that honors place, people and cultures. Her teaching focuses around conversations, practices and systems that sustain the intimate inter-relationship of public education, community and environment. Aragaki is the 2022 Hawaiʻi State Teacher of the Year and National Teacher of the Year Finalist. She is a National Board Certified Teacher in Adolescence and Young Adulthood Mathematics.

Check out Whitney’s writing, connect at

Whitney’s socials:

Twitter: @sayuri_neko

Instagram: @mamasayuri

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Throwback: 2021 AAPI Teacher Roundtable

We are one week into Asian American, Native Hawaiian, South Asian and Pacific Islander heritage Month, and we thought it would be meaningful to re-releaase our roundtable interview with AANHSAPI-identifying educators from around the country. At the time of this interview, COVID-19 was raging, and the all-too-predictable hatred toward people of Asian descent as somehow culprits of the pandemic was palpable and harmful. In this episode, brave AANHSAPI teachers speak on their experiences, their pain, and their hope as they demand to be celebrated and seen.

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Throwback: 2021 AAPI Teacher Roundtable

We are one week into Asian American, Native Hawaiian, South Asian and Pacific Islander heritage Month, and we thought it would be meaningful to re-releaase our roundtable interview with AANHSAPI-identifying educators from around the country. At the time of this interview, COVID-19 was raging, and the all-too-predictable hatred toward people of Asian descent as somehow culprits of the pandemic was palpable and harmful. In this episode, brave AANHSAPI teachers speak on their experiences, their pain, and their hope as they demand to be celebrated and seen.

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Chicanologues 03. Cinco de mayo and a Time for Warriors

Please forgive the poor audio quality. I wanted to re-record it for you but I had class late and just don’t have time this week. I will make this up to you!

Cinco de mayo can still mean something to our gente. It could be a time for warriors if we let it be.

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Throwback: Dr. Bettina Love and the Abolitionist Imperative in Education

You may remember the summer of 2020. We were caught in the grip of the initial months COVID-19 pandemic. A racial reckoning was beginning to materialize across the nation and, frankly, the world. When our guest that summer, Dr. Bettina Love, spoke with us at the NEA Racial & Social Justice Virtual Conference that year, she uttered the words “it is good to be here” and it was. We were surviving under constant threat of disease and violence.

Nearly three years have passed since this incredible conversation, and we wanted to revisit it. Dr. Love is a light of joyful tenacity in our work, and we look back and realize with greater appreciation, how much she got us all through it. Many of you have reached out to ask us for this episode, so please enjoy this throwback to a more bootleg time for us (audio much less cute than now), but this beautiful liminal space that we found ourselves with great minds and spirits.

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Find current work of Dr. Bettina Love and the Abolitionist Teaching Network here!


(Dr.) GLOVE(r) and Basketball and Student Voice with Dr. Erica Glover

Dr. Erica Glover is brilliant, and able to speak on most anything, from hoops to equity to student voice to hip hop! In this joyful and amazing conversation, we get Dr. Glover’s take on QUEENS Angel Reese and Caitlin Clarke, the weather, the origins of Disrupter University, and, most importantly, her new book, Centering Student Voice: A Guide for Cultivating Emotionally Intelligent Educators and Culturally Responsive Classrooms. Plus a top five rappers that is straight out the barbershop.

Dr. Glover is a servant of education, committed to equity, inclusion, and justice. Throughout her career in education, Dr. Glover has worked as an educator, administrator, and Human Resource/Diversity, equity and inclusion professional. 

As a former student-athlete and former professional basketball player, Dr. Glover realized that her passion to impact change was not limited to the basketball court. She remained committed to her community through the development of her non-profit, OKBNU, Inc. Through this non-profit, she was able to provide local youth with the opportunity to participate in AAU programs without the financial burden that deters many youth today.  

In 2017, Dr. Glover earned her doctorate degree in Urban Education, from Cleveland State University. With an emphasis on Policy and Planning, Dr. Glover has transferred her learning into reimagining the ways in which we socialize future teachers (current students and pre-service teachers), and in-service teachers. 

Today, Dr. Glover supports school districts and scholars through her organization, Disrupter University. Through this organization, she provides intercultural coaching for scholars and educators. She believes that advocacy is the key to liberation and peace, and develops training that allows others to see themselves in this work.  

Dr. Glover is also an author. She has just released her first book, Centering Student Voice: A Guide for Cultivating Emotionally Intelligent Educators and Culturally Responsive Classrooms.  

In her spare time, Dr. Glover enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with family.

Centering Student Voice book

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116. Educators as First Responders with Dr. Deborah Offner

Dr. Deborah Offner is a clinical psychologist with expertise in adolescent development, student mental health, and school life.

She serves as Consulting Psychologist at Beacon Academy in Boston, a 14-month program between eighth and ninth grade that prepares students from communities with limited resources for entry into independent day and boarding high schools. She also provides ongoing professional consultation to several independent middle and secondary schools.

Dr. Offner maintains an active clinical practice where she works with middle, high school, and college students, and their families.

Her book, Educators as First Responders, shares the truth known all too well by educators: often, when a student is struggling, particularly in their adolescence, that student will often speak to a teacher first. Not a family member, not a parent, but a teacher.

Dr. Offner shares with us her observations and recommendations for how we may better support our unsung first responders: teachers.

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115. Moms for Social Justice, Fighting Book Bans and Gag Orders

In this timely conversation, Gerardo is joined by Taylor Lyons, who represents Moms for Social Justice, an educational advocacy organization in Tennessee. The organization formed as a way to bring teachers and families together to raise consciousness and encourage diversity in the curriculum, especially through children’s and youth literature. This is a true grassroots organization that has been working side by side with classrooms and teachers for the last few years.

The right wing narrative would have you believe that progressive forces in your public schools are secretly brainwashing your children in the six-to-eight hours they are away from you. In fact, the opposite is true. According to numerous polls, most parents are very pleased with their children’s schools and teachers.

This is a deep conversation. We explore the pain of these manufactured culture wars, but the joy inherent in being in community with each other.

Learn more:


113. Real Talk About Deconstructing Karen with Saira Rao!

Trigger warning: This episode contains discussion of White supremacy, violence, and racism. Be advised.

Central Park Karen. BBQ Becky. These incidents have become tropes. Many of us laugh, if even in an exasperated way, when reminded of these incidents. But there is a deeper and more insidious reality for Black and Brown people. Violence, literal and symbolic alike, stalks us. If we are lucky, we only get angry and frustrated. But like countless others, too numerous to name, the results may be worse.

Our guest this week is author, filmmaker, and activist Saira Rao. co-author with Regina Jackson of White Women: Everything You Already Know About Your Own Racism and How to Do Better, co-founder of Race2Dinner, and creator of the film Deconstructing Karen, joins Gerardo to discuss how she began on this path. She shares the deeply upsetting moment following the 2016 Presidential Election, when she discovered her “friends” true beliefs. She lambastes White Supremacy, and calls upon all of us to end it.

All this and a Top Five that will surprise you.

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112. Kevin Discovers #ChatGPT

Kevin forgot the podcast email password years ago. He texts Gerardo stuff to tweet. He has a vague notion that Instagram and Tik Tok might not be the same thing. He doesn\’t answer 67% of texts.

And yet, he is using #ChatGPT for lesson planning. Our good friend Angela Watson of 40 Hour Teacher Work Week fame has developed content around the same topic, although way better and detailed than we did, and our friend Donnie Piercey vanished into a #ChatGPT rabbit hole, periodically surfacing to make fun of Gerardo.

But, peoples, this isn\’t the act of a lazy teacher. Kevin and Gerardo discuss ways in which #ChatGPT may streamline the lesson planning process for teachers who are overwhelmed and stretched too thinly (this of course means ALL teachers). Kevin discusses how his framework for teaching is more personalized having used the AI. He is able to see exactly what it is that he does, reflect, and tweak. Gerardo muses about the way that #ChatGPT may support neurodivergent educators. He recalls being paralyzed by the instructional choices he had to make as a teacher, and how it caused him to spend too much time looking for materials, and wandering off track.

What do you think about #ChatGPT for lesson planning? Let us know!

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110. Poetry for the Revolution with Poet Queen Valyn Lyric Turner

Valyn Lyric Turner is a spoken word poet, theatre artist, songwriter, and activist hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, the ancestral homeland of the Cherokee and Creek native nations. Valyn is a Senior Posse Scholar at Boston University where she double majors in Theatre Arts and Spanish. Some of her acting credits include starring in the radio drama “Iris”, local online safety series “Digital Citizenship,” and most recently, “LORENA: A TABLOID EPIC” at Boston Playwright’s Theatre. She is currently in rehearsals for the world premier of Kirsten Greenidge’s new play, Little Row Boat, or Conjecture at Boston University’s College of Fine Arts. As a spoken word artist and activist, Valyn has collaborated with several equity initiatives across the country, including the Minnesota National Association for Multicultural Education, Gwinnett Educators for Equity and Justice, Kalamazoo College, Gwinnett County Public Schools, Eden Prairie Public Schools, Georgia First Generation Association, and Kern County Superintendent of Schools to help educators foster cultures of inclusivity and equal opportunity for all students. She has recently been moved to use her platform to champion human rights in light of issues of systemic racism on display in the United States. Her work has been featured on numerous episodes of the LA-based podcast “The Only One in the Room” with Laura Cathcart Robbins, available on all streaming platforms. Valyn’s mission is to inspire, empower, and serve others through her craft.


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Blaxodus: Branta Lockett, the 5280 Freedom School, Exit Interview 10

Branta Lockett moved through her educational odyssey at the highest levels. W.E.B. DuBois would have absolutely drafted her for his Talented Tenth All Star Team. Highly Gifted and Talented, International Baccalaureate, Brown University, she brought her sterling credentials to Denver, hoping to be the difference for all students, especially Black students.

Her first two years as a Denver teacher were, simply put, “great.” But by year three, things began to unravel. She witnessed disproportionate disciplinary actions taken against Black boys. Still new to the work, she became a voice of advocacy for students and community. Her evaluation scores took a jarring dip. She changed roles, and found no support in any of them. Between COVID-19 and anti-Black dynamics within the union, she took the leap.

The 5280 Freedom School, inspired by the Civil Rights era’s Mississippi Freedom Schools, launched first as a summer program. After having their charter initially rejected, they are poised to open their doors in “Harlem of the West,” the Five Points neighborhood.

This story is at once a cautionary tale and a call to action. Learn more at; follow them on socials @5280freedomschool.

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Bonus Episode! Teachers of the Year Raise Our Voices for Honest Education

Dishonesty in education policy is not a new thing. From the criminalization of Black education to the arrests and trials of the East LA 13 to now, individuals from historically marginalized, oppressed, and excluded communities have received the message that our histories, our contributions, and our humanness are not welcome in our schools.

A few months ago Monica Washington (2014 Texas Teacher of the Year), Tracey Nance (2020/2021 Georgia Teacher of the Year), Chris Dier (2020 Louisiana Teacher of the Year), Takeru Nagayoshi (2020 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year), and I were invited to participate in the Voices for Honest Education Fellowship. We were deployed as voices for and with educators to combat fear-based education gag orders and book bans. Initially, the manufactured uproar over Critical Race Theory was the pressure point that bad actors located. As this strategy foundered, they turned their attention to LGBTQ students, teachers, and communities. We know that these bad actors are a fringe minority, but, unfortunately, they represent the tail that has wagged multiple dogs at the state and local levels. While it may be easy to dismiss them as a small group that doesn’t represent all Americans, they have successfully removed teachers, curriculum, and books from K-12 schools. One need look no further than Florida to see what happens when a small group gets the attention of an ambitious politician.

We sat down to discuss our work, and to invite you into the struggle. Find more information by finding Voices for Honest Education on all social media platforms. Read our blog, attend our events, and let us know how it’s going in your space.


2023 Colorado Teacher of the Year Jimmy Day II!

In October 2022, Aurora Public Schools middle school band teacher Jimmy Day II was named Colorado Teacher of the Year. He became the first Black male to receive the honor, as well as the first graduate of a Historically Black College or University to be named Colorado Teacher of the Year.

Gerardo was onhand to witness the historical event, and got to sit down with this creative, passionate, and brilliant teacher. We defy you to listen to his story and resist him.


Habitually Disruptive 23: Decolonize with Maribel González

I discovered Maribel González’s terrific @decolonizeinstruction account on Instagram, and was absolutely inspired by the ideas she shares there. A Native Xicana educator and Unschool Mama, she authored the books Social Justice and You, Be Your True Self, Build Strong Communities, Be a Changemaker and Choose Justice, she has also served as Director at the Center for Intergenerational Learning and National Faculty at PBL Works.

We sat down this past fall to discuss her ideas and insights on identity, the arts, and decolonizing for our communities.


108. New Year, New Dopeness

It’s been a season of change in #TooDope Nation! With Gerardo firmly entrenched in the dark side, and Kev still holdin down the block, it was past time to catch up. In this episode, we catch up on the work we’re doing, talk about these education streets, and make some resolutions for 23.

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The Exit Interview 09. Coming Back Different with Jacci Cradle

Jacci tells us her story of coming full circle. With her love for whom we in education consider as “littles,” she tells her journey as a childcare center owner who, with a heart for doing more for her community, begins her work as a Diversity Equity and Inclusion Director in a Denver Metro Area organization. Listen in as Jacci describes her story and advice for Black folks in the early learning space.


Habitually Disruptive 22. Anthony Swann is Disrupting Harmful Cycles

Anthony Swann is probably the kindest, gentlest person I have ever met, especially relative to his childhood. Taken from his mother for his own safety, he landed in the foster care system. When he was feeling that the world had turned its back on him, and that violence, fear, and abuse awaited him at every corner, his teacher reached out to him to assure him that he would be okay.

In 2021, he was named Virginia Teacher of the Year. But he is still healing from his trauma. Like me, he has had a difficult relationship with his father. Though our struggles are very different, his spirit and wisdom help me as I work toward healing.


Habitually Disruptive Episode 21: For the Love the Game with Author and Filmmaker Gwendolyn Oxenham

I first discovered the work of Gwendolyn Oxenham when one of my middle school soccer players told me of a film screening he had attended the night before. The film was called Pelada, and “it’s about soccer,” was the only synopsis he offered (6th graders, waddaya gonna do?).

I decided to check it out, purchased it on iTunes, and it changed my life. Two division-1 soccer players, having finished their playing careers, found themselves directionless. In their words, “the pro leagues weren’t calling, and we weren’t in the national team pool,’ explained my guest, Gwendolyn Oxenham.

So she and her partner Luke decided to travel the world in search of the heart of soccer: the pickup game. Underneath all the money, all the contentiousness, the drive, the manicured fields, the billion dollar industry, is people with a ball at their feet. As she decolonized her relationship with soccer, she returned to her elemental self: the humans and the stories.

Since the publication of her first book, Finding the Game and the film it was based on, Pelada, Gwen has continued the two things that ignite her passion: writing and soccer. She Published her second book, Under the Lights and in the Dark: Untold Stories of Women’s Soccer, and it gained such acclaim that it was produced into the podcast series Hustle Rule, in which the stories were narrated by Hannah Waddingham, star of Ted Lasso

Anyone who reads Gwen’s work will find their assumptions and beliefs about sports in general and soccer in particular disrupted. Plus an amazing top five!

Hustle Rule Podcast, narrated by Hannah Waddingham

Gwen’s Books



After a summer of anticipation rumors, and conjecture, the BOYZ are BACK. Gerardo and Kevin, merely two EDUCATORS in the city of Denver!

No, Gerardo hasn’t been replaced, and no his move to the proverbial “dark side” has not reduced his dopeness. And no, Kevin has not died without Gerardo in the building.

What we hope you find in season 7 of Too Dope Teachers and a Mic is spirited banter and multi-perspective conversation about education on a school and systemic level. Two perspectives on the same fight. Each keeping the other grounded and honest.

So let’s do dis, people! Who’s with us?


Habitually Disruptive 20: Healing Journey with 2020 Minnesota Teacher of the Year Qorsho Hassan

In the summer of 2020, as COVID-19 tore through communities, and law enforcement faced a racial reckoning, Minnesota named it’s 2020-21 state teacher of the year. In the state that saw the killings of George Floyd and Philando Castile by law enforcement, Qorsho’s recognition as the first Somali-American to be named teacher of the year remains significant. But what never stopped was the racist, misogynist and Islamophobic harassment that she faced regularly.

Nevertheless, Qorsho continued to work hard for her students and community, advocating with them and for them. Until she could not go on.

Qorsho was my first friend in our state teachers of the year cohort of 2021. And continues to be a source of strength, humor, and motivation to me. Her story is at once a powerful testimonial and a cautionary tale.



Summer has drawn to a close, if not officially, then in practice. Welcome to the conclusion of Summer Revolution Mixtape 2022! Fittingly, we will end with our new friend, our TrueDope Sister Afrika Afenni Mills.

Afrika Afeni Mills is an Education Consultant and the author of Open Windows, Open Minds: Developing Antiracist, Pro-Human Students. She works with teachers, instructional coaches, and administrators to develop and sustain student-centered learning experiences that are diverse, inclusive, and equitable. Afrika has been featured on podcasts, blogs, delivered keynote addresses and facilitated sessions at conferences across the United States. Afrika believes that all educators can be motivated, engaged, dynamic practitioners and leaders when provided with the support needed to create student-centered, anti-bias, anti-racist, culturally responsive learning environments that inspire wonder and creativity and nurture diversity, belonging, equity, and inclusion.

Keep up with Afrika’s work here. And buy the book!!

Twitter: @AfeniMills

Instagram: Open Windows, Open Minds

Facebook: Open Windows, Open Minds  and Afrika Afeni Mills – Equity Guardian

LinkedIn: Afrika Afeni Mills

Personal Blog: Continental Drift

Can buy the book from my directly by emailing me at [email protected], or on the website. Also through online resellers. 


The Exit Interview 07. Back to School with Dr. Asia and Kev

After a turbulent year locally and nationally, Dr. Asia Lyons and Kevin Adams are back with your Back to School shopping list. They break down issues facing educators of color and the communities they serve as super-producer Gerardo Muñoz sits in the virtual producer’s chair! Asia discusses life after PhD matriculation, Kevin shares the trials and tribulations of the now-completed Master Agreement contract negotiations in Denver Public Schools, and we evaluate the way forward for teachers of color. Should they follow Dr. Asia, our pedagogical Harriet Tubman to liberation? Will Kev teach forever? Does Gerardo have the attention span to make this interview pop?

Find out in this back to school episode!



What happens the year after a person is named CCSSO National Teacher of the Year? Find out when we catch up with 2021 National Teacher of the Year Juliana Urtubey! In her FIRST interview since her term ended, La Juli talks to us about her year representing America’s teachers, Joy and Justice, even today, and what she has learned about being in community with us. She also shares with us what is next for her (a TooDope Exclusive).

Juliana Urtubey, NBCT is known as “Ms. Earth” for her efforts to beautify schools and unify communities through murals and gardens. As the 2021 National Teacher of the Year, Juliana advocates for a “joyous and just” education for all students, one that is inclusive and celebratory of all students’ identities, families and communities. A bilingual, first-generation immigrant, Juliana has worked throughout her teaching career to serve as a mirror for her school community, helping students to be proud of their identities and families, and to acknowledge their strengths and contributions to the community. Urtubey is the first Latinx National Teacher of the Year since at least 2005 and the third Special Education Teacher to hold this distinction. Juliana has served as a bilingual and special education teacher since 2009 in Arizona and Nevada. 

Juliana is a National Board Certified Teacher (Exceptional Needs, Birth to Age 21) and holds a bachelor’s degree in bilingual elementary education and a master’s degree in special bilingual education from the University of Arizona. She is a National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Board of Directors member. 

Juliana (HOO-lee-on-a ER-two-bay) lives in Phoenix, Arizona. She enjoys reading in Spanish and traveling, and has had the opportunity to study and teach in Ecuador, Mexico, Spain and Puerto Rico. She also enjoys tending to her collection of house plants and spending time outdoors, and she aims to visit all the National Parks.


Habitually Disruptive 19. 2022 Kentucky Teacher of the Year Willie Carver, as Himself

“Oh sure, they’re gonna pick the big gay Appalachian” was Willie Carver’s first thought when he learned he had been nominated as 2022 Kentucky Teacher of the Year. It was a crowning achievement after fifteen years. Guided by the credo “fear has armor, love has none,” Willie supported students, especially LGBTQIA+ students, in being themselves and building a deeper understanding of their identities. Despite being warned by a school leader that being out and advocating for his community “you will be crucified, and no one will protect you, including me,” Willie continued to fight for his students.

The homophobia and hate reached a boiling point, and Willie Carver, the 2022 Kentucky Teacher of the Year, resigned his teaching position.

Hear his thoughts here. Support marginalized and minoritized teachers, students, and communities.

Read Willie’s Story Here

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It was deeply humbling and inspiring to collaborate with 2019 National Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson and 2016 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Shawn Sheehan, co-hosts of the Teachers Caucus Podcast, which examines the role of teachers in policy spaces.

For this collaborative episode, we discuss lighter moments in the classroom and touch on multiple other topics and issues. Laughter, insight, and wisdom prevail in this fun conversation. We’re posting a little late, but we hope you enjoy it.



Elena Aguilar has been out here in these education streets a long time, pushing important ideas around social justice, equity, social emotional learning, and teacher wellness. As founder of Bright Morning, Elena remains at the forefront of important conversations with and about educators.

She joins Kevin and Gerardo for a terrific conversation, in which she shares her education journey, the passion that drives her, and a very summer top five!


Habitually Disruptive 17. Jena Nelson, Teacher of the Year, Candidate for State Superintendent!

Jena Nelson, the 2020-2021 Oklahoma State Teacher of the Year, is a force to be reckoned with, an energetic and authentic educator with a big heart and an even bigger sense of fight for educators and the communities we serve. We connect for this episode to disrupt the idea that a teacher’s place is ONLY in the classroom. She is currently the statewide candidate for Education Superintendent, an elected position, in the state of Oklahoma. Constantly on the campaign trail and connecting with communities and constituents, she takes a moment to talk with me about her work.


Habitually Disruptive 16. Sports and Resiliency with Laken James

Habitually Disruptive is about those who think differently about how we do things. Those who question the fundamental assumptions we make as we navigate and try to survive the status quo. That’s really it. You can be disruptive really anywhere, because most systems are designed to work exactly as they work, and most systems are maintained by human beings who either sustain or disrupt the status quo.

I met Laken James on Twitter, where all great friendships are born. She had posted an op-ed in which she described the impact of being benched after a loss as a college basketball player. She shared that it was devastating, but formed a foundation for healing and, ultimately success. enjoy this conversation with my favorite professional basketball player!


Habitually Disruptive 12: Nora Rahimian of #CultureFix

It is a time of transition, from winter to spring, and in education, millions of teachers are considering a change in career path. This episode, though recorded a while back, is timely for anyone who is wondering what freedom looks like professionally.

Nora Rahimian is a creative consultant who helps entrepreneurs achieve success on their terms, without giving up creative control, financial freedom, or personal integrity. She is also the founding director of #CultureFix, a global network of artists, activists, and entrepreneurs who use their platforms for social impact. Her work is based in the belief that our communities have everything they need to succeed, that art & culture can spark the paradigm shifts to make the world a better place, and that the radical change we imagine is both possible and necessary. Nora has spoken at conferences and universities around the world. She has been named one of iStandard’s Women Who Run The Music Industry, is a UN Alliance of Civilizations Fellow, and was recognized as a Trailblazer by VoyageLA. Connect with her online at or on your favorite social media platforms at @NoraRahimian.


The Exit Interview 03: Crystal Gillis

Kevin and Asia listen to Crystal Gillis’ story. From leaving the classroom to facilitating and developing youth voice and leadership at YAASPA, her story is informative and impactful.


107. United States Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona: “I Haven’t Changed My Stripes.”

Kevin and Gerardo infiltrate the halls of power in the highest levels of educational government by visiting with the first Latino United States Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona! From his humble beginnings in Puerto Rico to a “class clown” to a twenty-year veteran educator, Dr. Cardona has traveled a long road and, in his words, “my stripes are the same.”

As the Biden Administration rolls out American Rescue legislation, Kev and Gera as him questions about the expenditures, investment, and future of American education in this contentious time. We discuss important issues facing communities of color in education, and share some laughs.

And of course, a top five that will, no doubt, sow the seeds of controversy.

We are profoundly grateful to EduColor and Profe Equis, José Vilson for this amazing opportunity.


106. 2021 Missouri Teacher of the Year Darrion “DC” Cockrell

This episode is a long time coming!

Darrion “DC” Cockrell, the 2021 Missouri Teacher of the Year, has a powerful, heartbreaking, and inspirational story, and he shares it with us. This is less a teacher’s lounge conversation and more of a “chop it up on the front porch” episode. DC discusses his experience with violence, sports, learning disability, and his journey to the classroom.

The temperature rises with a contentious Top 5, one from which we may never recover.

Theme music composed and performed by Kevin Adams.



Exit Interview S2.01. “I Got Receipts” with Desmond Williams

Scholar, Author, Entrepreneur, and Educator Desmond Williams has been there, done that. A talented and effective classroom teacher, he quickly moved up the ranks to building leadership. But even as a principal, Desmond was not achieving the impact he wanted to. He found himself in frequent conflict with fellow leaders, and gained a sense of clarity.

That sense of clarity has manifested in his DEI firm Nylinka, a book, The Burning House, in which he echoes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s question about racism as a system that perhaps African Americans should try to escape, and frequent speaking engagements and training. Desmond shares his story, questions the notion of Racial Battle Fatigue, and gets out the receipts. Do not miss this one!


105. Autumn Rivera, 2022 Colorado Teacher of the Year and National Teacher of the Year Finalist!

We sit down this cold evening to talk with Autumn Rivera, the Glenwood Springs Middle School science and social studies teacher who begins her term as 2022 Colorado Teacher of the Year this month! She makes history as the first Colorado Teacher of the Year to become a National Teacher of the Year Finalist in 28 years, and only the 9th in nearly 60 years. Autumn shares her path as a mixed-heritage educator of color, into middle school teaching, authentic service work for youth, solidarity and advocacy in the union, and of course, an amazing top five. An exciting and energetic interview as we learn from a brilliant scholar-activist.

Music composed and performed by Kevin Adams



“It’s Not About Football” Exit Interview Season 2, Episode 1

On December 21, Denverite broke the story that legendary community leader and Montbello/Far Northeast Warriors Coach Tony Lindsay, Sr. would not be invited back to coach football for the newly reunified Montbello High School football program. Despite a winning record that included a recent state championship, building leadership chose not to bring him back.

Coach Lindsay is more than a football coach, and much more than an X’s and O’s guy. He is a mentor, a friend, an elder, and a leader in his community since he began coaching nearly three decades ago. A onetime NFL player who played professionally in Canada, Coach Lindsay’s reputation is sterling in his community.

Asia and Kevin sit with him and hear his story. He shares his emotional journey as he recounts times that he was all some of his players had, and the outcry since the announcement has been deafening. In a time when the Far Northeast community needs every hand on deck to unite the community, this will prove a difficult blow from which to recover.

Listen and remember the value of community-grown leaders.

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Habitually Disruptive Episode 8: Luís Antezana of Juntos 2 College

A long time ago, I got a chance to connect with my friend Luis Antezana, former classroom teacher and founder of Juntos 2 College and DACA recipient. Born in Bolivia, Luis has long wanted to provide undocumented students with the resources for post-secondary life, not limited to college, but also in terms of financial literacy, planning, and entrepreneurship.

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102. Come to Community

We’re back this week with some things on our minds. It’s November, but for so many educators, it feels more like February. We are aging and exhausting quickly. In the first segment, we discuss mental health. The struggles, the challenges before us, and what can be done to protect and heal the spirits of teachers, students, and communities. We shout out the professionals doing the important work, but caution that heroism only goes so far. There is a mental health reckoning that we must face.

In the second segment, we discuss another reckoning: the racial one. Using the “two sides of the Holocaust” front of the culture wars, we share ways in which teaching truth and honesty may heal our nation. It is a terrifying time, but we can be a part of this important humanizing work.

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Habitually Disruptive Episode 6: Humanizing with Luís J. Rodríguez

If you are a Latinx or Chicanx/Xicanx person, you probably remember the very moment you first read Luís J. Rodríguez’s Always Running, La Vida Loca: Gang Days in LA. For me, it was when I had just finished college and happened upon a copy at my school. I had just read Monster: The Autobiography of an LA Gang Member, written by Sanyika Shakur, and I was searching, unwittingly, for a way to humanize and process the environment that was my home for my entire childhood and adolescence. Always Running shook me to the core, and I remember thinking how fortunate I was to have stayed away from “that life” as a youth.

As I have grown as a writer and educator, I’ve learned the power of healing, storytelling, and bearing witness to the consequences of systemic racism and capitalism. Don Luís has long given me the words to explain the pain and sadness I feel to this day when I think of where I grew up.

I messaged him on Instagram, not expecting any kind of response, but there it was. Almost immediately this brilliant and humble veterano of movements and cells agreed to come on the show and gave me more time than I could have ever hoped for. I have reached out to other towering figures in the arts and scholarship, but Luis will stay with me a long time, because he was so ready to speak.

This elder is a gift. Please enjoy this charla.


Revolution Summer Mixtape Track 2: Kevin, Asia, and the Exit Interview

Just wanna tell you that the mixtape doesn’t have a specific order. Track 2, the one we did SECOND, is very meta and reflective.

In the winter of 2020, Asia approached us with an idea. Having been forced from her teaching position a few years before, Asia was keenly aware of the conditions faced by Black teachers in these schools. This has been the basis of some of her research around Dr. William Smith’s work on Racial Battle Fatigue, and she had decided that these stories MUST be told. Thus was born the wildly successful Exit Interview series.

We wanted to examine ways in which this work has impacted Kevin and Asia. How have these stories impacted them? Do you feel inspired? Upset? Disappointed? All of the above?

As we return to the classroom this fall, we know that there are fewer Black teachers for the reasons outlined in this series. Plus a fire Top Five.


05. Habitually Disruptive with Math Revolutionary Annie Fetter

When I first learned of the “I notice/I wonder” approach, I was not aware that the concept had really gained traction as a math practice in the work of Annie Fetter. Fetter, who trained to become a teacher but quickly became one of its most humanistic and revolutionary trainer-experts, had revealed that allowing students the space and freedom to simply describe what they see in a math lesson deepened their learning, made the work relevant, and yielded positive results. I always had a feeling about this; traditionally I used “notice and wonder” in my history classes, but far from the 10-15 minutes it was supposed to take while I took attendance, handed out graded work, and provided materials for the “real” lesson, 45 minutes would go by until I finally ended the discussion to get to the “real work.”

When Kevin and I interviewed LaChanda Garrison for the Too Dope Teachers and a Mic podcast, she shared Annie’s name to illustrate a humanizing and culturally responsive method for teaching math. I went to YouTube immediately and found a treasure trove of presentations, workshops, and articles. “What do you notice/what do you wonder” was the praxis I always wanted and never knew it.

A couple of Twitter and Zoom conversations later, here we are. Annie, brilliant, unique and determined, joins me for a conversation that will disrupt all your long-held assumptions about math instruction and schooling more generally. Do not miss this one!


Habitually Disruptive Episode 4: 2021 Michigan Teacher of the Year Owen Bondono

Owen is a quintessential disruptor. Owen is punk rock. Owen radiates love and revolution, which is why he is the Michigan Teacher of the Year for 2021. If you haven’t had the please of hearing his ideas, learning about his message and platform, you are truly missing out. He is funny, brilliant, and ready to burn some things down for justice.

Since recording this episode, we did indeed attend Space Camp, and it was a blast and we did disrupt some stuff!


Revolution Summer Mixtape Track 4: Angela Watson of the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek

We are beyond blessed and fortunate to bring you our much-anticipated interview with the venerable and brilliant Angela Watson, who has been working to abolish the notion of the teacher as martyr for years. Her 40 Hour Teacher Workweek program saved Gerardo’s teaching career, ultimately helping him to be named the 2021 Colorado Teacher of the Year, and she stands poised, in the wake of her recent book publication, to roll out the Cornerstone for Teachers, a wide-spanning and comprehensive effort to make the work of the teacher sustainable.

But far from being the Marie Kondo of education, Angela also shows up daily as a co-conspirator looking to abolish White Supremacy in education. In this lively and inspiring episode, Angela chats with Gerardo and Guest host Brooke Brown, 2021 Washington State Teacher of the Year about the state of education today.

This episode is a must listen, with a towering yet humble figure in education today.


Habitually Disruptive Episode 3: Holistic Liberation Healing with Jenny Medrano

Since coming to Colorado and hoping to become an educator, Jenny Medrano has been at the forefront of change and liberatory thinking and youth development. We first crossed paths when she mentored youth leaders as a part of Building Bridges, later Shift, and has recently struck out on her own, in a world desperate for a new kind of healing. In this expansive conversation, we discuss healing advocacy, and listening to one’s inner child. We discuss disruption for social justice and human development deeply and in new ways. And we get a fire top five!


Revolution Summer Mixtape Track 3: Young Activist Elijah Wright and Hasadiah Israel


Track 3 of the mixtape is FIRE, pure and simple. We sit with Elijah Wright and Hasadiah Israel for an encompassing, energetic, funny, engaging and convicting conversation. It is rare for authentic cross-generational exchange to occur, especially for teachers. We often act on the assumption that because we are in the presence of young people, that we engage in such exchange, but in this forum, we are truly on equal ground. Hasadiah and Elijah bring brilliance, commitment, humor, and passion to this track of the mixtape.

We are reminded of how crucial it is to struggle toward liberation, and to take joy in the struggle, and trust that the community sees our work, not only our words. To be free is to be one’s authentic self, and these young men practice freedom at every turn.

A note: If you have young children around, you may not find some of the language to be age-appropriate. We are committed to providing space for Black and Brown thinkers, creators, innovators and activists to be their authentic selves, and sometimes that means that they will use profanity. 


Emergency Episode: #FlyingWhilePoC with Sabrina Suluai-Mahuka, 2021 American Samoa Teacher of the Year

Space Camp was soooooo much fun. Gerardo made new friends, solidified relationships with old ones, and the general feeling of the 2021 State Teachers of the Year was positivity, solidarity, joy, and a newfound exuberance about what education and educators could be. Though not every Teacher of the Year could be present, it was a special gathering of special spirits that could have lived on as a pristine moment of joy and perfection in an increasingly traumatized, frightened and uncertain world.

Until departure day, when American Samoa 2021 Teacher of the Year Sabrina Suluai-Mahuka learned that her flight home was canceled. She was told abruptly and in no uncertain terms that there was no hotel provided, no ground transportation, no meal vouchers (it seems relevant to state here that the only restaurant in the Huntsville airport had its kitchen closed). Disappointed and discouraged, Sabrina braced herself for a long night ahead, probably sleeping with one eye open as she awaited a flight home.

Moments later, she learned that our colleague Anthony Coy-Gonzalez, the Ohio Teacher of the Year with a sweet smile and even sweeter disposition, was offered hotel, transport, and meal vouchers “before I even had a chance to ask.” Good friends, the two of them shared experiences and both realized that implicit bias had once again reared it’s ugly head.

After a flurry of social media posts and DM exchanges between American Airlines and Sabrina and her allies, a brief “investigation” yielded a borderline insulting result. Sabrina, however, has remained resolute in her determination to see systemic change happen.

With Kev out of town, Gerardo is joined by guest host Brooke Brown, 2021 Washington State Teacher of the Year, to share Sabrina’s story. Please listen to the end, as there are ways that you too may #StandWithBrina.


Exit Interview 07: Racial Battle Fatigue part II with Dr. William Smith

Asia and Kevin’s interview with Dr. William Smith of the University of Utah was so saturated with wisdom that we brought him back for a part II!

In this conversation, Dr. Smith shares his wisdom, doing a deep-dive into Racial Battle Fatigue. He discusses a litany of topics, including his rebuttal of the notion that Racial Battle Fatigue is analogous to post-traumatic stress disorder and the various manifestations of RBF, behavioral, psychological and physiological. He reveals that addressing racism as it is experienced by Black educators and their communities requires an honest look back over centuries, as opposed to reading a book or having a community circle in professional development.

Get out your notebooks; Dr. Smith is going to take you to school with this one.


Mixtape Track 01: Author, Educator, Entrepreneur Desmond Williams

The 2021 Summer Revolution Mixtape is here! Track 1 features the brilliant, insightful, funny and honest Desmond Williams, author of The Burning House: Educating Black Boys in Modern America, founder of Nylinka Educational consulting and former principal. This conversation is in-depth, so pace yourself! We discuss, well, everything, from trauma to institutional racism to self-employment to hip hop. If you are looking for new ways to imagine education, this episode is IT.



And in the blink of an eye, we have reached 100 episodes. In this season finale, we reminisce about the good times, the funny times, the difficult times, and the moments of inspiration. As we help you reflect on this, the wildest and most difficult year that anyone can remember, we take a look back as we look forward.

We have each made a list: Our ten most memorable moments since December 2016, when the podcast went live. Some of these are episodes and interviews, other items are places we have gone and people with whom we have connected. But there is a catch: we did not share our lists with each other ahead of time.

Listen as we reflect and close the year. Thank you for staying dope with us for yet another season.


“You Can Stand On My Shoulders” with Dr. Darlene Sampson, The Exit Interview, Episode 6

Equity is the goal for nearly every diverse school district in the country. As the ripple effects of generational trauma and systemic oppression continue to be felt in communities of color, especially Black and Brown communities, districts like the Denver Public Schools have created positions and offices of equity, inclusion, or both.

Dr. Darlene Sampson, equity specialist coordinator at the Western Educational Equity Assistance Center and a clinical field faculty in the Department of Social Work at Metropolitan State University of Denver, was once the director of Culturally Responsive Education in Denver Public Schools, bringing with her three decades of experience to a vitally important office, especially as the district sought to end generational inequity and trauma within the school system. In 2006 she stepped into the position, confident and excited to begin the work that not only was she was she passionate about, she had lived it, growing up in Pueblo, Colorado where “there were not that many of us.”

Soon, she discovered that her employer was not prepared to do the work. They were not ready for her greatness, which is to say that they did not establish the conditions under which true Culturally Responsive Education could grow. Instead of building a space for liberation, she describes her daily work as a battle ground, and even finds the term “Racial Battle Fatigue” to fall short in describing what she experienced. It was a plantation experience.

Today, Dr. Sampson shares with us her experiences fighting the good fight, the correct fight, and the work in which she is currently engaged. She harbors no ill will; she simply realizes that her employers were simply not prepared for what Culturally Responsive work required.


99. From a Place of Love with Marylin Zúñiga

About 14 months ago, COVID-19 brought school as we knew it to a grinding halt. In the weeks and months that followed, the US education system scrambled to adapt, modernize, move all school operations online and generally attempt to continue business as usual over video calls and virtual learning platforms. We struggled with this. If you caught our episode “Pump the Brakes” in the spring, we expressed concern about this rush to continue schooling in the manner.

In July, the Education for Liberation Network broadcast a webinar titled “Repurposing Our Pedagogies” and among the brilliant voices sharing wisdom was the brilliant and loving Marylin Zúñiga, who declared that she “would not participate in business as usual.” She declared, along with other voices in the space that it was time to “decolonize time” and to maintain home as “a sacred place for healing.”

Marylin has moved with authenticity, spirituality, and swiftness since being a little girl who frankly, did not like school, to being a transformative and spiritual abolitionist voice in a wilderness that seeks only economic recovery and capitalist salvation at all costs. This conversation will move you, because it isn’t just about school, and it isn’t just about struggle and abolition and justice. It is about a humanizing “place of love” that transcends our fleeting institutions and dares to imagine a life worth living, with healing, in community.

You can check out the work of Marylin, Dani, and Anna at Quetzal Education Consulting, and you can follow Marylin and Quetzal on Instagram for regular inspiration. And you can support their organization by spreading the word about this great work.


97. Educator and Children’s Author Hodo Hussein

This week, we bring you the amazing story of Somali-Muslim-Canadian educator and children’s book author Hodo Hussein. She joins us from a lockdown in Canada, where she describes the situation as ‘uncertain’ and ‘indecisive.’

During the course of a wonderfully insightful interview, we discuss representation of Muslim educators and communities, creativity, and following one’s dreams in hard times. It should be noted that Hodo did not set out to become a writer, but when she was separated from her students at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, she decided to take a creative approach to keeping a connection, affirming their sadness at no longer having school, and even improving their math skills. Her wonderful debut book, Manal Mahal and the Double Cookie Party is an affirmation of children’s feelings and willingness to go on in hard times.

Plus good laughs and a fire top five!


Exit Interview 05. The Origins of Racial Battle Fatigue with Dr. William Smith part I

This is a real special episode of the Exit Interview! Asia and Kevin talk with Dr. William A. Smith, professor of Education and Ethnic Studies at the University of Utah. Dr. Smith, who developed some of the most profound research around the concept of Racial Battle Fatigue, shares his research, insights and experiences tracking this phenomenon.

In this profound and wide-ranging conversation, Dr. Smith discusses a veritable library of topics, so many that we decided to expand this conversation to two parts (Part II will be out this summer–stay tuned!). He shares his perspectives on the positioning of school leaders and teachers in regard to revolutionary action. He shares his thoughts on Black representation in film as a pacifying force. He names the genocidal actions taken against Black people both past and present.

Throughout this conversation with this next level scholar, the learning is strong, the struggle In contextualized, and the inspiration is total. Tune in!


Breaking News! Colorado Senior Wins Princeton Prize for Race Relations!

Zaira Najera is a graduating senior at Eagle Valley High School in Gypsum, Colorado. Her family comes from Mexico and she is a first generation American, as well as a first generation college student. She co-founded and currently serve as co-chair for a club called SPICE (Students Promoting Inclusion and Civic Engagement) at EVHS, as well as a member of Youth Celebrate Diversity’s Student Virtual Board and YouthPower365 with their Leadership Team at Eagle Valley High School.

Zaira was recently awarded the prestigious Princeton Prize for Race Relations, which honors a handful of high school students across the country for their efforts to improve race relations in the communities. In 2021, only 29 high school students across the country won the award.

Zaira speaks with Gerardo about her commitment to social justice, her own experiences with racism and discrimination, and her desire to continue to work in community with others, as well as an excellent top five.


The State of Education with Amie Baca-Oehlert

The state of public education is…tough right now. But it isn’t because of teachers or students. It’s because our systems have spent too much time overthinking the challenges we face, when in reality, it’s all about respect, resources, and professionalism.

Colorado Education Association present Amie Baca-Oehlert joins Gerardo and Kev to discuss the state of education. She names the harsh realities but also demonstrates the simple ways that we can right this ship for ALL kids.

Read the state of education report here!

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Chicanologues 08. Cielito Lindo Books Founder Leticia Ordáz and Sharing NUESTRAS Historias

Leticia Ordaz is a Publisher, Award-Winning Bilingual Children’s Book Author, Literacy Advocate, and Television News Anchor/Reporter.

Leticia is the founder of the bilingual publishing house Cielito Lindo Books and a ten-time award-winning children’s book author at the International Latino Book Awards, the largest Latino Book Awards in the world. 

A proud Mexican-American, Leticia is an Emmy Award-winning anchor/reporter in Sacramento, California, where she’s covered some of the biggest stories in the country. 

Leticia is the author of The Adventures of Mr. Macaw, That Girl on TV Could Be Me! The Journey of a Latina News Anchor, Mr. Macaw’s Paleta Adventure, The Carousel King and the Space Mission, Mr. Macaw Lost in the Big City, and 2024 release Super Peanut and the Big Bully: The Power of Kindness. 

As a literacy ambassador, she is excited to share bilingual stories with children around the world. The mother of two young Latino boys is working hard to break barriers and change statistics that currently show only 7 percent of American children’s books feature Latinx characters or subjects, and only 10 percent of authors and illustrators in the US are Latinx. 

She recently teamed up with the Antelope Valley Union High School District to publish the Anthology, We Come From Greatness. The heartfelt project shared the stories of 88 migrant youth from Los Angeles County and transformed students into published authors. All of the proceeds benefit a scholarship program for the district. 

When Leticia is not on the news being a voice for her community, she is busy visiting schools, hospitals, and orphanages to spread the love of reading in English and Spanish. 

Reach out to bring her to your school for a dynamic assembly., Cielito[email protected]

Twitter: @LeticiaOrdazTV, @CielitoLindoBks LinkedIn: Leticia Ordaz 

Facebook: @CielitoLindoBooks. 

Instagram: @LeticiaOrdazTV, @CielitoLindoBooks

“Belonging is the Outcome” Carney Sandoe’s Kim Garner and Brandon Jacobs Discuss Forum DEIB

We are partnering with Carney, Sandoe & Associates to bring you cutting-edge insights and opportunities to learn from and with members of their communities. In today’s episode, Kim Garner and Brandon Jacobs join us to discuss DEIB (the B stands for Belonging), the importance of DEIB work across all educational spaces, and the chance for folx in the Philly area to attend their Hiring Forum DEIB event this coming Friday!

Kim graduated from Suffolk University with a B.A. in International Business. She began working at Carney, Sandoe & Associates in 2000 as an Operations Associate, and became Associate Director of Operations in 2005, Director of Operations in 2006, and Director of Operations and Conferences in 2010. Kim was promoted to Managing Associate in 2012.

As Chief Operating Officer, Placement Group, Kim manages operational budget, oversees operations staff, and explores new technologies to optimize efficiency within the Placement Group. She coordinates hiring, training, and onboarding for new employees, and plans and coordinates all aspects of faculty recruitment conferences, located in cities each year across the country.

Kim has also spearheaded the development of CS&A’s Women’s* Institute (which held its inaugural event in 2017) which focuses on empowerment, professional and personal development, and mentorship of women in education at all stages of their careers. Kim is extremely passionate about the importance of women supporting other women and providing safe space to learn from one another.

Brandon is Practice Leader, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging (DEIB) Consulting Practice, Search & Consulting Services and also supports our Head of School, Key Administrator, Catholic Schools, and Diversity Leadership Search Practices. Brandon has been instrumental in growing our DEIB Search and Consulting Practices. He has worked with dozens of independent schools, colleges and universities, and education organizations, running retained searches for DEIB practitioners and leading consulting engagements around implicit bias, equitable hiring, BIPOC faculty and staff retention, and other topics.

Thanks to financial assistance from New Jersey SEEDS, a nonprofit organization that places high-achieving students from low-income families at selective day and boarding schools across the country, Brandon and his three younger brothers were able to attend The Hill School (PA). At the predominantly white boarding school, Brandon served as the first Black All-School President and, seven years following his high school graduation, would return to his alma mater to assume the dual roles of Director of Inclusion and Diversity and Student Activities Coordinator. While at The Hill School, Brandon was also Director of Student Activities, Class Dean, and Assistant Director of College Advising.

Before joining CS&A, Brandon served as the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at The Shipley School (PA) where he led the development and implementation of policies, procedures, and programs that sustained an inclusive school community and curriculum and fulfilled the School’s diversity and inclusion goals. Working closely with school administrators, he directed recruitment and retention initiatives to broaden the diversity of the student body and among faculty and staff.

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126. Stop Resisting Director and Producer donnie l. betts

I had no idea that January was National Mentoring Month, but this is perfect timing. At a critical moment in my life, donnie l. betts, legendary actor, director, playwright and filmmaker, but most importantly, mentor to so many.

I was fifteen when I met donnie, and he changed my life. He showed me that men of color from my neighborhood could be artists and movers, and that art could matter. We have remained in touch for over thirty years, and it is my profound honor to bring him and his story to you.

In this episode, you will hear how donnie came to the arts, the people he has met and learned from, and his undying conviction that art can make a difference. As in his new film, Stop Resisting, which, in the wake of unending police violence visited on Black communities in Denver and beyond. donnie continues to leverage art and stories to affect change, and he shares his passion with us.

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Teaching While Unapologetically Palestinian

For nearly fourteen weeks, genocidal events have been brought upon Gaza. To be honest, we struggled with how to best show support. We are a podcast that centers Teachers of Color and issues of Human Rights and Justice for all. So we have chosen to bring you stories of Palestinian American teachers. These stories are long-form, so they defy the sound-bite 24-hour news cycle. We ask participants to tell their stories with authenticity and courage. So yeah, this episode is longer.

Amal is a teacher in California who is proud to be Palestinian. She knows that her perspective is different, living stateside and not in Gaza, which has been described as of January 7 as “uninhabitable” by the United Nations. The days drag along as Amal tries to teach and support students. The courage to teach while your world burns is something Kevin and I cannot fathom.

But know that this story has emotion, passion, and knowledge. You will learn things that have not made it into the news cycle. You will learn how one teacher sees and experiences this horror.

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122. Teaching Palestine as a Social Justice Movement with Abeer Shinnawi

For over two months, violence has raged on the Gaza Strip. Since the world snapped to attention on October 7, just under 20,000 Palestinians and 1300 Israelis (around 400 IDF soldiers) have died in the so-called “Israel-Hamas War” a carefully curated framing of the violence. This is an awful moment, and has led a number of experts to name the actions visited upon Palestinians as genocidal.

Kevin and Gerardo join the conversation. Perhaps later than some would hope. But we wanted to learn, listen, and elevate before seizing a social media moment.

Enter Abeer Shinnawi, our friend, a Palestinian teacher in the United States. Abeer calls upon us to teach the Palestinian struggle as a social justice/civil rights movement. She shares with us the privilege she has by living in the United States, but the pain she feels, as the Palestinian experience has been largely minimized, demonized, and erased. But in the midst of it all, she still believes that teachers can make a difference, to help students see that there is a civil rights imperative at work here.

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