February 4, 2020
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How 4 teachers are bringing black history to their classrooms

From art projects to visits to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, teachers are inspiring their students to be a part of Black history.

Teachers across the country are bringing civil rights lessons to life during Black History Month and throughout the year. Photo by William Lovelace/Express/Getty Images

February is Black History Month, a time when teachers across the country bring their students resources and lessons that reflect upon the often under-taught and overlooked stories of black history in America.

To give you a peek into the rich tapestry of learning students are embarking on this month, we’ve collected a few of our favorite projects that focus on and celebrate black history.

Building Bridges and Breaking Barriers–Celebrating Black History Month

Ms. Bost, a 2nd grade teacher at Barrett Elementary School in Homestead, Pennsylvania, requested a wide set of resources to celebrate black history through a school-wide “living museum.” When describing how items like traditional percussion instruments, posters celebrating famous black Americans, African masks, and more benefited her community, she shared the following.

[Read more: Embracing Black history’s painful past to shape a more hopeful future]

“With the new artifacts for our Black History Month Museum, we are able to bring diverse individuals together and start conversations regarding what makes each of us special and unique, about culture and heritage, as well as the opposition and obstacles that we had to overcome to get where we are as a society today as well as the work that we still need to accomplish.

By promoting and enriching our Black History Month Living Museum, we are able to bring the whole community together and allow these lessons to be taught in a safe and nurturing environment where administrators, teachers, parents, community stakeholders and children can learn together.

The best part of this whole project is it started with one small idea and continues to grow.”

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!: Exploring HBCUs

Ms. Ghebregergish wanted to give her high school students in Saint Paul, New Mexico, the chance to visit Historically Black Colleges and Universities before they begin their college application process. She requested funding to bring her students to Morehouse College, Spelman College, Clark University, Tuskegee University, Stillman College, and Rust College.

Ms. Ghebregergish shared why this trip was so important to her students.

“As a teacher and advisor at my current school, I am inspired daily by the energy and resilience that I see in my students. I believe that [my students] deserve so much more than they get. Seeing what else is out there for them will help them make their vision for their future much clearer.

“My goal is to show my students that they can literally go anywhere they want in this world if they work hard and are given the opportunity.

“They will get the opportunity to meet college students and professors, and they will learn the importance of going to a university/college that genuinely values black history. Students will be learning about the HBCUs through independent research and networking. Students will learn the application requirements of each school. Ultimately, they will become more informed before making the very important decision of where to attend college.”

Afrofuturism: Through the Eyes of Our Youth

Afrofuturism is a concept that marries African diaspora history and culture with technology. Ms. Thomm wanted to give her Chicago elementary school students the opportunity to represent themselves and their visions for the future through art.

“Our mission within our school is to make sure that our students’ voices and stories are seen and heard. Each of our students deserves to use their voice to tell their story in a way.

“The items within this DonorsChoose project will support our students in creating work that will be viewed by not only themselves, but the entire school. Students will use these materials to create an Afrofuristic (a movement in the arts featuring futuristic or science fiction themes incorporating elements of black history and culture) and vibrant self-portrait that will be on display in the hallways.

“When students walk through the hallways of our school and see their own faces, it will create a sense of belonging and they will be able to embrace themselves and others around them. My students will be so excited to explore futuristic Black identity through the lens of Afrofuturism and use their radical imagination to showcase themselves permanently in our academic home.”

Honoring Black History in Our Classroom

Having a classroom library filled with diverse characters was fundamental for Ms. Potter as she prepared her 10th grade classroom for Black History Month. She wanted to ensure that her students not only feel represented, but that they know the world is open with possibilities.

“As educators, we aim to inspire young men and women to accomplish great things. We have a diverse student population, yet we have few things in our classroom that represent our student’s identity. In an effort to do so, we intend to create a display in our classroom of books focused on the visibility of the Black community through books written by and about black people.

“We intend for every young person that enters our classroom to leave with equitable respect for people and belief in their ability to achieve great things.

“By providing these books as resources to our students, we hope to help our students see themselves in our classroom. We want students to feel accepted for who they are and know that they have a place in our school community.”

Here’s to a month and beyond of learning and celebrating our country’s rich history!

See more Black history projects on DonorsChoose.org.

This article originally appeared on the DonorsChoose.org blog.

Katherine McLennan

DonorsChoose.org

Katherine McLennan is a Senior Writer for DonorsChoose.org.