Black History Month is finally here and across the country there are dedicated and passionate teachers going above and beyond to ensure that their students have a memorable, inspiring and impactful February.
One way they’re doing that is by using their creativity and pride to decorate their classroom doors to pay homage to African-American heroes.
One teacher that caught our eye was Glen Mourning, an author and fourth grade teacher from Friendship Public Charter School in Washington D.C. See, the 31-year-old educator and former football player used his door to highlight Colin Kaepernick for his school’s annual door decorating contest.
Mourning told HelloBeautiful that their school has a strong focus on social justice and strives to make the connection between those core values and learning, which is important for Friendship’s predominately Black and Latino student population.
“We don’t necessarily teach a mainstream curriculum, so we don’t start our Black History lessons with slavery,” Mourning stressed.
Adding, “Our kids and our families are used to knowing more about the contributions of folks like us from all different perspectives and time periods.”
For Mourning, Colin is a perfect example of someone stands up for Black lives, an example his students can relate to and one he can expand on.
“It’s a pretty abstract concept for our 9 and 10-year olds to understand the power of Colin choosing to take a knee and being ostracized for it. So we make sure they understand that he’s more than just the ‘dude with the Afro that took a knee,’ but that these social injustices he’s speaking about are still happening.”
He adds, “That, and the importance of integrity and how doing the right thing can mean that people will not always support you.”
Mourning also makes sure his students know about Kaepernick’s work outside of football, teaching them about his, “Know Your Rights Camp, his foundation and how he has impacted people all round the world.”
“His actions are bigger than the NFL; it’s a global thing.”
Mourning, who couldn’t imagine not being a teacher, also wants for his students to have a more meaningful Black History Month than he had growing up.
“I grew up in Connecticut, so Black History Month was basically a music teacher singing some slave song and only talking about Dr. King. There was no deeper meaning that made me feel me proud or wanted me to learn more,” he explained.
And given the current culture we live in, he stresses that our kids deserve better.
“You turn on the TV and the radio and everything is anti to be proud of who you are. So as teachers we have to be as creative as possible on a regular basis and find ways for students to make connections with the world around us, so when they enter that world as adults, they know which side of the argument they are fighting for.”
Bravo to Mr. Mourning and other teachers like him who embody the phrase that “in order to be it, you need to see it.”
Take a look a some of our favorite Black History Month doors below: