Category Archives: trauma

The Edupurist Podcast

The “Edupurists” Podcast.

 (Click this link for the new podcast) 

The Edupurist Podcast focuses on education in its purest form, the truth. The Edupurist podcast will shed light on the many issues that affect Black/Brown families. Each episode will focus on changing the narrative by using education as a catalyst for change. The goal is to shed light and love while being super critical of a system that not necessarily designed to uplift Black/Brown students.

8 Black hands Conglomerate.

So, many of you have heard the crew and me on the 8 Black Hands Podcast. The 8 Black hands podcast is when we come together to form Black Voltron in the podcast space. However, currently, we are all in the development stages for our podcast efforts. We will continue to record our 8 Black Hands podcast, but to give you more content, we decided to host individual podcasts under the 8 Black Hands umbrella. So, look out for six other hands and their podcasts coming real soon.

Episode 1- When the See Us.

A lot has been made about the new Netflix series When They See Us. Ava DuVernay did a fantastic job of bringing this to life. The way that she was able to bring truth power speaks volume about her talent. DuVernay is a national treasure, and we should celebrate her as such.

Guest(s).

In this episode, we have two guests. Mr. Terrell Dozier, Dean of Students and Families at the Riverhead Charter School. We also have Mr. Khari Shabazz, a Principal in the Success Academy Network. I was honored to be able to “chop” it up with these fellas regarding pertinent issues that benefit Black/Brown families.

Cinematic Importance.

These performances were as real as it gets. It doesn’t or probably will never bring justice to this situation, but there was power in these portrayals. When thinking about these performances, one person comes to mind; Korey Wise. The actor that played Korey Wise deserves all of the accolades that come with this type of production. He did a fantastic job, P-E-R-I-O-D-T.

Oprah Interview.

Oprah recently had the cast members of “When they see Us” and the Central Park Five. As well she had the victims of the injustice. This interview was powerful and deserved a listen. Below is a clip from the conversation. Kudos to Oprah for bringing much-needed attention to this injustice.

I don’t know who needs to hear this… but.

I Don’t Know Who Needs to Hear This… But.

I don’t know who needs to hear this… but, some of the things that our students are being exposed in school are unbearable.  As a school leader, one wears many hats.  One of those hats is a protector.  I think it is crucial that school leaders understand the role that they play in education.  It is essential to know that you set the tone of the school.  If anything goes wrong, you’ll also be the point person for parents to reassure them that your actions and the actions of teachers in your school or by the best interest of children.

In More Recent News.

Moreover, one of the more recent incidents in education involves teachers and a noose.  If I have to explain to your the historical pretext of a noose, you shouldn’t be in front of any kids of any kind.  Especially Black and Latinx students, given what the descendants of slaves had to endure some 400 years ago.  Yet the adults we choose to put in front of students give us constant reminders.  From students being made to re-enact slavery, to slave auctions, and now we have noose sightings.  The video below captures the story behind the noose.  The lack of care exhibited by these five individuals is more than just a bad joke.  It permeates the systematic racism and damaging systems that happen in schools that are unfit for students.

More Context.

Consequently, the photographer in this picture (allegedly) is the principal of the school.  I mentioned earlier that the principal sets the tone of the school.  If the principal is involved in such a tone-deaf act as this, what does that say about the school?  One of my latest blogs talked about a principal that took advantage of a young teenage girl.  We are starting to see more and more miscarriages of justice committed against our kids, and the people that are supposed to protect our students from harm are the same folks that are committing evil acts against our students.

Protecting Kids At All Costs.

I want parents to have a plan of action for when these events occur.  Especially given the frequency of occurrences.  Schools deflect, and often times aren’t accountable for the damage they cause.  People aren’t sorry about the harm that they cause to kids.  They are sorry they got caught.  So, as I stated in the title of this blog post, “I don’t Know who needs to hear this”, but we have to do a better job with protecting our most valuable parent resource, and that is our children.

Principal as Protector

A principal’s job is to protect his/her students.  However in those rare instances when principals don’t play their role, students suffer.

Where do I start?

I honestly don’t know where to start with this one.  You hear about it so often that you become numb to it.  Yet daily, there’s some kind of story that depicts an educator taking advantage of a student in a sexual manner.  Often times then not, these predators face no jail time and depending on how strong their union is, many get to keep their licenses.  The lack of morality exhibited by some educators is indeed a Black-eye on the profession.

Principal as Protector.

When I think about my time as a principal, I think about how it was my job to protect my students.  To shield students from harm and ensure their safety.  I wanted to be that person that students and families could come to if there were uncertainty.  These are the types of qualities that I view are essential to the principalship.

At a Lost for Words.

If you know me, you know I’m never at a lost for words.  But if I may be candid, this one is too close to home not to feel a certain way about it.  We witness educators who exhibit questionable judgment daily.  Research from 2004 states the abuse that happens in Catholic schools pales in comparison to the injury that occurs in public schools.  Typing this has me feeling sickly. But even with these feelings, if we aren’t pushing the conversation forward, how are we protecting our students?

Riverhead High School Principal.

Our school, the Riverhead Charter School, is located within the Riverhead School District.  We attract 50% or more of our students from the District.  So when I say this is close to home, it really is close to home.  The Riverhead High School principal is accused of having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a student.  While I fully support everyone having their day in court, this one is different.  As a principal of a school, your job is to protect your students.  Our students leave us in 8th grade and move on to high school.  This could have been one of my students.

                                                  District Stance.

I couldn’t imagine being the superintendent in this district.  The principal has been reassigned with pay pending the investigation.  According to reports, the school district could not immediately fire the principal due to his tenure.  Everyone believes that there can only be one outcome.  I’m a pessimist when it comes down to things like this.  I’ve seen privilege make the worst situations seem not so bad.

My immediate takeaways.

It’s important to highlight that our charter school, currently a K-8 charter school, serves as somewhat of a feeder to the Riverhead Central School District.  Our pool of students is about 50%, RCSD residents.  As a result, many of my in-district students end up going back for High School within the district. 

Riverhead Charter School Needs a High School.

I say this to say a couple of things, 1) We need a high School ASAP.  Fortunately for us, we were approved to go up to grade 12, but our 9th grade doesn’t start until 20-21.  2) There’s a high level of trust that must be maintained between our school and the district.  Currently, we have no working relationship with our district.  Last summer I met with the District’s highest official, and the response was a cold one.  I was told that my school is the competition.  My response was classic, “the only people we are in competition with is ourselves.”

What if the Principal was Black?

Now for the ultimate wrinkle: What if this principal were black or Latinx?  I know some folks will say, why do we always have to talk about race?  My response to that statement is, why would we not talk about race?  Especially in a country that continually ignores its working poor.  As a society, we need to have more conversations centered around equity, and sometimes the lack thereof.  Especially when it comes down to students receiving a fair opportunity to learn.

 

Assistant Principal Done Lost His Damn Mind!

Assistant Principal Done Lost His Damn Mind.

Okay, I’m speaking solely as a father here.  In a recent bout against Black popular culture, an Assistant Principal of a school in Texas decided the best way to approach a uniform violation was to use a permanent marker to color in a students hair.

That’s right, permanent marker.  This was an Assistant Principal’s solution to a student coming in with a design in his hair.

I couldn’t imagine my approach if my son came home with a permanent marker in his hair.  I honestly don’t know if I’d be more upset with my son than I would be with the Assistant Principal that done lost his damn mind.

I’d be upset with my son because he didn’t ask to call me directly so that I could give him perspective on the situation.  But honestly speaking, these are the unfortunate circumstances that black and Latinx students face daily.  We put our kids in schools with folks that are not culturally informed, and these folks continue to degradate our children.

The Assistant Principal Has Rights.

Some folks are going to come to the aid of this Assistant Principal.  They’ll say he was following policies and procedures.  If he were a revered AP in his district, he’d find a new job in no time.  That’s how the system works, recycling administrators.

When will this constant assault on black culture end?  Our kids deserve better than this.  These strict policies outlined by districts don’t create a safe learning environment.  It does, however, develop a life of servitude.  When you treat kids like they are in prison, they’ll become prisoners.  And I don’t know one parent that is willingly sending their kid to school to become a felon.  Yet by having these “whip cracking” reactions to these culturally unjust policies creates a school to prison pipeline.

Dialogue That Disrupts the Lack of Cultural Acuity.

The only real way to address these types of issues is to create dialogue.  It goes back to training educators on how to engage families.  It also calls for educators to respect other people’s children.  Whenever I engage in dialogue with my students, I always approach it thinking about how I would want an educator to engage with my children.  By incorporating this mindset, it helps me to make sound decisions.  In the rare occasions that I question my choices, I’ll call a colleague for advice.  Before I make any final decision, I’m calling that students parents.  Why?  Because as a parent I would expect a phone call from an educator making a decision about my child.

The adults in this instance dropped the ball.  Now it’s up to this family to help this child put this incident behind him.  It’ll be hard for Black and Brown parents to trust educators in this district.  If I were in this district as a parent, I would ask for a policy review.  As parents, we have to understand our rights.  This type of incident is exactly why I support a parent’s union.  The students should have a union as well.  If educators are offered protection to do hideously stupid things to our families, parents and students deserve equal protection to ensure they are afforded protection as well.

Trauma-Informed Classrooms

Student Trauma in the Classroom.

Trauma-informed classrooms help. Student trauma from home to the school is a real thing. Some of our students have seen the very worse of what life has to offer. These students don’t need nor want your pity, but they deserve your respect. They deserve for you to walk a mile in their shoes. Our kids deserve love and nurturing.

Your scholars deserve this from you because what they have experienced is by no fault of their own.

Growing Up in Trauma.

As an educator, I have the uncanny ability to spot student trauma. Through lived experience, I know what to look for. As a child I exhibited signs, but teachers didn’t always pick up on the signs. For example, there were times when we didn’t have running water, and my oh balance would be off center. Or times when my homework wasn’t complete because the electricity bill wasn’t paid.

These were all sorts of issues that I had no control over. Moreover, the adults in my life never really picked up on these sorts of things.

Adults Who Care More.

I don’t want any kid to grow up the way I grew up. No kid should be cursed at or demeaned at home. I agree on kids deserving discipline, but not to the levels some people are willing to take things. Students should not be made to feel like they are less than anyone else.

Our jobs as educators are to protect our students. No, you can’t control what occurs at the homes of your students. However, you can manage how you embrace the trauma they are experiencing. You can turn your classroom into a safe space, so kids want to come and talk with you about their experiences.

Creating Trauma-Informed Classrooms.

A teacher who goes above an beyond is the teacher that knows. The teacher that displays a culturally relevant mindset is a teacher with the openness to learn their students. Providing the right mix of care could mean the world of difference for some students. Keeping your hand on the pulse of your students is equal to ensure the students are learning.

Student Trauma is Not my problem.

Consequently, you’ll have some educators that are of the mindset that they aren’t paid enough to deal with any types of trauma. I won’t argue against that. What I will say is, if you came to education for the money, this probably isn’t the right career for you. We need more folks that are willing to make a difference in trauma filled neighborhoods. For some of these scholars, it’s their only way out.

Educators that have Experienced Trauma.

Some educators have or still may be suffering trauma. If that’s the case, we can’t be of any good to our students until we address our issues. I’m providing you with a measure of trauma. Please use it to self-diagnose. Once you know if you’ve been impacted, it will allow you to be in a better situation to help your students. Trauma-Informed classrooms help.
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