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.
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!
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.
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.
Natalie Vardabasso is one of my favorite education minds and overall cool humans that I’ve been lucky enough to meet. We first connected through Twitter (@natabasso) and we are truly kindred minds. This conversation happened a WHILE ago (shoutout to my doctoral program), but you all need to know her work, no matter how long it’s taken.
This episode was actually recorded about a week ago, but in the words of the mighty Yasiin Bey IT’LL COME OUT WHEN IT COME OUT AND IT’LL BE FIRE.
Peoples. We made it. We pushed, pulled, or dragged ourselves to the 21-22 school year’s midway point and at the very least we can (should) separate from all things work-related. We hope that this time gives you a chance to slow down and breathe in the joy and relief that comes from community and a new connection with self.
We open with a requiem to the Righteous and Brilliant bell hooks, who we lost just recently. We reflect on which of the hooks teachings that most impacted us, and pour one out for our fallen sister.
Then we reflect on what was, is, and could be the coming days, weeks, months as we keep hope alive.
We love y’all so much, and can’t wait to chop it up on the other side of ’21.
Also check out our friends from Quetzal Education Consulting at quetzalec.com!
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.
The state of Colorado recently declared a youth mental health crisis that threatens the capacity of the healthcare system to take care of youth who are hurting. While this may be shocking to the general public, it is not shocking to public school teachers, who are often the first to learn that a young person is struggling with their mental health. This development is particularly not shocking to Jodi Miller, a doctoral candidate and former high school teacher who has developed WellCheq, a revolutionary way to monitor students’ mental health in a way that is safe, non-intrusive, and confidential way that simultaneously lends itself to professional support. Jodi, the soon-to-be Dr. Miller, observed the effects of stress on her students when she taught high school science, and decided to make this her doctoral and life’s work.
Plus possibly the greatest top five in the history of HD Top Fives.
This week, we are fortunate to bring you a conversation with Denver Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero! It is unusual to break down the walls between leadership and teachers across the system, but our new supah-intendent is game! Listen to his story, as a kid from the Bronx who became a district leader. Hear what he has to say about staff shortages and teacher evaluations. Hear his Top Five Rappers. But most importantly, hear his two invitations and challenges to us!
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.
This episode is brought to you by our amazing patrons, as well as Quetzal Education Consulting! Check them out at quetzalec.com for a free consultation.