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91. To Be Received, with LaChanda Garrison, 2021 DODEA Teacher of the Year

To talk with LaChanda Garrison, the 2021 Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA), is to be taken to school by next-level brilliance, compassion and intellectual and spiritual depth. Her story is unique and fascinating, and reminded us that each person has a unique path and set of experiences. A self-proclaimed “military kid,” LaChanda shares her story of racial insecurity and a desire to “be received” and be seen for who she is.

We could not be prepared for the deeply honest and open experiences that LaChanda shared. She shares stories of her biracial identity, her work in the “family business” of DODEA teaching, and living in Bahrain. She shares her praxis of student-centered, relationship-driven mathematics instruction, and takes us to school. And finally, a wonderfully constructed Top Five rappers/performers that gives us even more of a glimpse into this amazing spirit.

A longer episode, and worth every second.

Exit Interview 03. “God Said it Was Time” with Donna Druery

Being a Black educator in the American system of schooling will test the faith of the strongest. In this powerful episode, Doctoral candidate Donna Druery (who has her defense the day after this episode!) shares the long journey through education that ultimately ended with her departure. She shares upsetting experiences, ranging from the hostile to the absurd. An excellent educator once highly recruited and touted as exceptional in her context, she experienced what so many Black educators experience. Her professionalism was not simply questioned, but outright attacked. She was the subject of gossip among White teachers. For over a decade she found herself in a textbook abusive relationship with her job. At times, she felt that “we were turning a corner” only to find herself attacked again.

Listeners will find resonance with Donna’s story. The “constant strategizing” simply to be heard in her community the physical manifestations of her racial battle trauma.

Through it all Donna’s faith carried her to a degree that is jarring and powerful. Don’t miss this episode of the Exit Interview!

90. National Teacher of the Year Finalist Juliana Urtubey

Juliana Urtubey’s family came to the United States to escape the Civil War in Colombia. Their transition was aided by existing citizenship, and Juliana has made the most of her opportunity, not only in her own educational attainment, but as a highly skilled and accomplished elementary educator. She brings a different energy, one that is completely consistent with her nickname “Ms. Earth” a moniker given her by a student. She is a person of many worlds, who crosses borders daily in her quest to humanize the schooling process in Nevada, where she is the first Latinx educator to be named Nevada Teacher of the Year. She is also one of the four national finalists for National Teacher of the Year, and this interview tells you only SOME of what you need to know about this well-deserved distinction.

Over the course of an energetic, healing and fun conversation, Juliana shares her experiences with community gardening at the school, National Board Certification, grassroots teaching and learning, humanizing pedagogies, and teaching to thrive in a space where multiple worlds meet. Also, a top five rappers list that is completely on brand with her worldly and colores de la tierra ways!

90. National Teacher of the Year Finalist Juliana Urtubey

Juliana Urtubey’s family came to the United States to escape the Civil War in Colombia. Their transition was aided by existing citizenship, and Juliana has made the most of her opportunity, not only in her own educational attainment, but as a highly skilled and accomplished elementary educator. She brings a different energy, one that is completely consistent with her nickname “Ms. Earth” a moniker given her by a student. She is a person of many worlds, who crosses borders daily in her quest to humanize the schooling process in Nevada, where she is the first Latinx educator to be named Nevada Teacher of the Year. She is also one of the four national finalists for National Teacher of the Year, and this interview tells you only SOME of what you need to know about this well-deserved distinction.

Over the course of an energetic, healing and fun conversaton, Juliana shares her experiences with community gardening at the school, National Board Certification, grassroots teaching and learning, humanizing pedagogies, and teaching to thrive in a space where multiple worlds meet. You will love her insights and stories!

89. LaGarrett King on Black Historical Consciousness

As a young college student, LaGarrett King knew somethin was up. A student of history who had a profound understanding of himself as a complex human being, he knew that the version and framework of history he was being offered in his program was limiting and myopic. “I didn’t have the language” he explains, “but I knew there was more to it.”

As a teacher, “I was on the traditional track for a Black male educator,” which meant administration, but after a few months “checkin hall passes” he decided that he wanted to dig more deeply into the work of studying and understanding Black Historical Consciousness.

Now Associate Professor of Social Studies Education at the University of Missouri and founder of the Carter Center for K-12 Black History Education, Dr. King is setting schools ablaze with powerful abolitionist ideas around the importance of Black Historical Consciousness. He dives deep into contentious, unsettling historical study and drops so many gems we thought we’d just robbed a museum!

Gerardo and Kevin had the experience of hearing Dr. King teach at professional development, and now you get to hear his ideas. Get a pencil and paper, because class is in session!

88. Neelah Ali of Denver’s Black Educators Caucus

The systematic attack on Black teachers continues across education, and the great city of Denver is no exception. The ways in which Black and Brown teachers are often scapegoated and experience proxy attacks on the communities from which we come and which we serve. The designation of schools with Black and Brown student populations, and those which employ Black and Brown educators as “low performing,” “not meeting” or, locally, “red” is a well-established and researched problem in our system.

We sit down with secondary teacher Neelah Ali, one of the founding members of Denver’s Black Educators Caucus, about the continued marginalization of Black teachers within our system and the caucus’ recent #dpssoracist campaign. Neelah speaks at length about stories shared with the caucus regarding atrocities committed against Black teachers, especially in the form of stereotypes, professional bullying and other microaggressions felt keenly in most schools which employ Black and Brown educators.

Follow the BEC, the hashtag on Facebook, and support Denver’s Black educators!

Exit Interview 02. “Everything for a Reason.”

Analise Harris embodies Black genius, Black ingenuity, and a resilience. Always socially conscious and connected to her community, Analise entered the education system through alternative means after studying sociology in college. Having worked with the NAACP and other advocacy organizations, we in education were bless to have her join our ranks and work with children every day. She was impactful immediately and beloved by her students and parent community.

Then, as occurs so often with Black women teachers, things went south. The gossip. The microaggressions that became outright hostility. In a wrenching conversation that lays bare the pain shouldered by Black women educators, Analise shares in stark and unapologetic detail her harrowing journey from star teacher to persona non grata. Even today, she expresses bewilderment at the ways in which she was treated, as she re-lives the trauma of being run out of the classroom.

But she never wavered in her commitment, her goals, and her certainty that she was doing right by her students. Listen as she turns her pain and struggle into one of the most exciting STEAM programs in the area. She now looks to “corner the market” that schools simply refuse to see. This is a powerful, painful, but ultimately inspirational story of healing and creative genius. Do not miss this one!

87. Mid-season Brain Dump

It’s mid-season, and we got so much on our mind that we just can’t recline. This podcast has its roots in brain dumping the things we see, feel, and experience over the course of a year. It’s a necessary catharsis, release of anxieties, celebrations, frustrations that is frenetic and healing all at once. Plus Kidz Bop M.O.P.

86. Resist. Heal. Create. Ki Gross of Woke Kindergarten!

Ki Gross is clear on many things. They are here to serve Black and Brown children, their families, and communities. They center healing and radical love of Black and Brown babies. They create spaces for all manner of Black, Brown, and LGBTQIA+ folx. We’ve been excited about Ki’s work since we first heard of Woke Kindergarten on the Abolitionist Teaching Network’s podcast hosted by Dr. Bettina L. Love, and are deeply honored and humbled to conversate on the show with them.

We were not prepared for the deeply spiritual and healing conversation that ensued. They started by asking us not how we were doing, but “How are you nurturing your spirit today?” And that set the tone. Ki pushes us with passion and love to develop deep learning of the spaces we occupy. Before teachers put a curriculum in place, we must form relationships with our students, their families, and communities. We engage in the practice of education as a community, setting priorities as a collective.

Among the most powerful statements Ki makes to students that “you exist in the future” and that Black and Brown lives are precious. Yes, there are resources shared here, like the Tenets of Woke Kindergarten, the Nap Ministry, 60 second stories, Little Revolutionary, and Black Children Play. But really the power of their ideas is in causing us to reconsider ways in which we may center healing in our work. This conversation was mind-altering, and we hope it gives you the chills of possibility as it did for us.

Please consider attending the Bank Street Early Childhood Symposium TODAY, February 4, 2021!

“Don’t Ever Downplay My Accomplishments”

The Exit Interview premiers with the story of Sataira Douglas.

When she came into the teaching game, Sataira was a highly regarded rising star in teaching. In a profession that struggles to recruit, let alone retain, Black teachers, Sataira was sought after by multiple school districts.

The situation decayed quickly. Microaggressions and macroaggressions. Gaslighting. Frozen out by colleagues. Rumors. Blamed for colleagues health problems. Invisible labor. The stress on family and community members who watched her struggle and still hold her head high. Belittled publicly in front of colleagues.

And still, Sataira came to work. Told herself “it could be worse.” Worried what would happen to her students if she left. Staying for a community of parents and children that she felt a bond with. Hold your head down. Just do your job.

And yet, “I knew I was going to quit by October.”

But through the pain and professional harm done to her, Sataira found a way to rise. To discover her power. To learn exactly how much was too much.

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