By Cheri Farrior

            Teach to Lead Chicago attendees (picture courtesy of Teach to Lead)

            Teach to Lead Chicago attendees (picture courtesy of Teach to Lead)

Last weekend I had the opportunity to serve as a Critical Friend at the Teach to Lead Summit in Chicago, where I had the pleasure of meeting some amazing Alumni Fellows. Together, we spent the weekend working with amazing educators from all over the world on projects focused on inclusion, equity, and opportunity in their schools and communities.

Over the last couple years, many of our Fellows have also had the opportunity to participate in Teach to Lead Summits across the nation.  Being in a high-energy room with educators who were just as passionate about equity as we are and and working to create solutions, was a remarkable feeling.  My table group was from Alabama and saw a lack of teacher preparation for teachers working in schools with high poverty and homeless populations.  Their goal was to create professional development for in-service teachers in local districts to prepare teachers to become better advocates for students living in poverty.  

Arne Duncan gave a motivating Ed Talk in which he talked about the future of our education system, mentioning how it costs more money to educate poor kids and stated that students can't learn if they are hungry.  He has been to schools where students get more than just one or two meals a day and schools that have created food banks in their buildings for students.  

Bryant Marks, a Presidential Advisor on the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and professor at Morehouse College, said it best “some jobs have disproportionate impact.  Your bias as an educator can result in a student not pursuing their passion in life.”  Educators are humans, meaning we have natural biases.  Sometimes we have biases that we are unaware of that are attributed to thing such as, the environment we grew up in, family members, and our educational background.  This made me think, as educators what are you doing to advocate for all of your students?  When I say all students, I mean ALL students-not just the ones that you identify with.  How do you work to create inclusive and equitable classrooms for all of your students?  Most importantly, would you feel proud to send your own children to the school in which you teach at?

Cheri Farrior is the Program Coordinator for the Educator Voice Fellowship.  She graduated from North Carolina A&T State University where she earned a B.S. in Public Relations and most recently completed her Master of Public Administration from The Maxwell School at Syracuse University.  Prior to joining America Achieves, she taught 7th grade social studies at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in Charlotte, NC, as a Teach For America corps member.