February 5, 2024

Petrina Miller  – 2024 Black History Month Educator Spotlight

Educators For Excellence •

Name: Petrina Miller
Role: Classroom Teacher, E4E School Facilitator
E4E Chapter: Los Angeles

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

 I have been teaching long enough to see the demographics of our school community change drastically. Our black students are still in the minority. They seldom see representation in school, media, or other places that have a positive impact. I believe that having a teacher that looks like me and can speak like me and can understand what my family, faith, and community mean to me can touch a life in a way that others cannot. We all can sympathize with others, but sometimes it is empathy that is needed and that sometimes requires someone who has gone through what I have experienced. We need to see superheroes that look like us so that we can aspire to be a positive change. Not that teachers are superheroes, but maybe they are…?

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

I always begin Black History Month with a focus on defining what is fair. I do a quick social experiment with my students. I randomly assign two different colors to the class, and we discuss one group with privilege and the other group as underprivileged. We discuss if the treatment is fair. Then I switch it and the opposite color now has the privilege and advantages and it very powerful. We will begin with social studies and take that understanding of fairness and continue it through bullet points of the civil rights area that would be grade-level specific. This year, I would like to focus on art/music/and dance, some of the things that are accessible to the kinders and we can highlight some of the milestones that were made by cultural icons. 

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

There are so many rich quotes. I think the simplest one, yet the most powerful is  “The time is always right to do what is right.” –Martin Luther King, Jr. This becomes very powerful because, for a 5 or 6-year-old, I can help them understand it and enact it within the classroom to help them make smart choices. 

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

I am not sure if you need to use this, but I found a shirt that I wear in February and at other times that says “I’m Black every month.” People are people all the time and should not be defined by a season, a month, or a holiday. The uniqueness of a person is divine. We are as unique as our fingerprints and should be celebrated for just being you.

Educators For Excellence

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Petrina Miller  – 2024 Black History Month Educator Spotlight