Representation in the classroom matters

Current Events & News | 12/09/2020

Carsten Pennier
Social Studies Teacher

My journey to becoming a teacher is a little different than the traditional path. Growing up as a young Black boy in Slidell, I went through my educational journey without having any Black male teachers to look up to and only a handful of Black female teachers, so I never considered it as a career for myself. But once I got to college, that all changed. Throughout college I was able to take a handful of History courses taught by someone who looked like me, and it changed the course of my life. Even though I was a Marketing major, their classes and their stories had an impact in my life. It was because of my experience in their classrooms that I first considered becoming a teacher myself.

After college, I started working as a substitute teacher and it was through this experience that I learned first-hand the positive impact I could have on students who looked up to me as a positive male role model. I decided to pursue teaching as a career and began teaching 6th grade Social Studies classes at Creekside Jr. High.

At Creekside, I teach students with high needs, our school is located in a high-poverty area which presents additional challenges for our students. I am the only Black male teacher at my school, where only 10% of the students are Black. During my time teaching at Creekside I have learned of the impact my representation, voice and experiences have on all of my students. Since I am the only Black male teacher many of the Black students at school come to me to look for advice or have trusted conversations.

Has an educator of color made a difference in your life or taught you something new along the way? Take a moment to share your experience and recognize great teachers in your life?

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