February 5, 2024

Michael Simmon – 2024 Black History Month Educator Spotlight

Name: Michael Simmon

Role: Teacher

E4E Chapter: New York

Why is it important to support Black educators in the classroom?

Black Educators, especially African American male teachers, are the minority in the classroom. I truly believe that working for the N.Y.C.D.O.E., our diverse classrooms need more teachers of color, preferably men, so that students can see themselves in me as a Black Educator.

How do you plan to celebrate Black History Month? (In your school, family traditions, self-exploration, and care, etc.)

My classroom has a very cultural look and feel of Black and Brown figures contributing to American history. Images and artifacts are all around my classroom for my students of color to see themselves and their work within a living environment. As for celebrating our vibrant and rich culture, I will teach the works of W.E.B. Dubois and Booker T. Washington. Their tremendous contributions to African Americans in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

What is your favorite quote from a Black figure in history?

“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today” – Malcolm X

Additional comments you would like to make around Black History Month? 

I am currently teaching a curriculum I created and developed and got approval to teach at my school this year called “The History of Hip-Hop Culture.” This course covers the four main elements of Hip-Hop (Deejaying, Break Dancing, Emceeing, & Graffiti) and the fifth element, Knowledge, which I’m giving them about the culture. This is a high school’s 11th & 12th-grade accredited elective course. Students learn the origins of hip-hop culture and how it has evolved to become the number-one genre of music worldwide.

The second element of Hip-Hop Culture, which has gone international, will be in this year’s Summer Olympics in Paris, France, “Break Dancing.” We will conclude the course with a spring trip to the Universal Hip-Hop Museum in April 2024, looking at the Golden Era of Hip-Hop in the 1980s and 1990s.

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Michael Simmon – 2024 Black History Month Educator Spotlight