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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  • In the USA,only 7% of the Teaching Force is of African descent. Is it a problem with recruitment and retention? Or is it simply that the heterogeneous inner city students must be taught by the homogeneous teachers raised and schooled in the suburbs?One thing for sure there is a direct line from the business of learning to the business of punishment. The incarceration of City kids in the suburban prison.. Isn't it time that more and more minority students have in front of them someone who could be their neighbor?
    Babou Ido

    February 12, 2021 2:35 PM