I serve the wonderful 4th through 8th grade, at-risk students at a high poverty school in Jacksonville, Florida. Our school is 84% minority and 100% of students receive free breakfast and lunch every day. Many of our students and families have suffered severe/multiple trauma(s).
Our school is the only one like it on the entire eastern seaboard, providing free, public Montessori curricula in English and Spanish classrooms, serving high at-risk youth in our city's "deadliest zip code." Through the Montessori Method, we develop inquisitive, reflective, and self-reliant humanitarians.
Our peaceful sanctuary builds relationships like no other, beginning in Pre-K, Kindergarten and 1st grade. Our students matriculate through elementary and middle school together, in preparation for high school and college. The community, teachers, staff, and administration are a devoted, diligent family who give our best to our students each day.
My students idolize superheroes, like many children their age. Unlike my students, however, many of their heros portrayed in literature or other media are white or caucasian. If you ask my students about Captain America, Thor, or Spider-Man, they know a great deal and speak excitedly about their origin stories and heroic acts of justice.
My students know very little, however, about positive & powerful role models who look like them in the fun, fictional world in which they engage.
With the release of "Black Panther" (the film) more attention is being drawn to the African American hero. Last year's reinstallment of "Black Panther" the comic book series has been brought to us by an African American author (Ta-Nehisi Coates) and an African American illustrator (Brian Stelfreeze). I hope to analyze with my students the implications and impact of history-shaping legacies such as colonization and slavery. Black Panther is a hero about whom my students can center discussion of their cultural roots, their land(s) of origin, and the possibilities in their futures.
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