February 5, 2024

Syeita Rhey-Fisher – 2024 Black History Month Educator Spotlight

Educators For Excellence •

Name: Syeita Rhey-Fisher
Role:  ELA K-8 Instructional Coach
E4E Chapter: Connecticut

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

The educator workforce should be a healthy representation of the population they are serving. Although we continue recruiting diverse teachers through pipeline programs, legislation, and attempting to remove systemic barriers, the diversity teacher gap remains a national issue. We have a long way to go because of retention. It is even more important we support black educators already in the classroom to ensure our recruitment efforts aren’t wasted. It doesn’t matter how many black teachers we recruit if we don’t work to dismantle work conditions that give breath to factors such as unfair assumptions, microaggressions, exclusionary behavior, and other toxic school environments for black educators.

What excites you most about Black History Month this year? 

What excites me most about Black History month every year is the hyper-focus on the achievements and pride that connects my people, past, present, and future, and affirms the identities and aspirations of the black students in our classrooms. Black History Month also gives space for all people, regardless of racial background, to pay homage to Black excellence. 

How do you plan to celebrate Black History Month? 

I serve on the Black History Month committees at multiple schools. On February 17, I participated as a panel member with esteemed legislators, educators of color, and education-adjacent colleagues in a New England Regional Forum discussing “increasing and diversifying the educator workforce.” It was a collaboration between The Commission on Women, Children, Seniors, Equity, & Opportunity (CWCSEO) and the White House. 

I also celebrate Black History Month the same way I do every other month, instilling pride in heritage in my three children.  

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

My absolute favorite human is Maya Angelou because she helped me see that I am a “phenomenal woman. Phenomenal woman, that’s me.” But my favorite quote is from Frederick Douglass, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” This quote embodies the reality that nothing is easy; our strength and growth come from our struggles.

Any other comments you would like to make around Black History Month?

I would be remiss not to name that Black History does not belong to a singular month; it is something I give homage to every day. And educators striving not just to be culturally responsive but culturally proficient incorporates Black History fluidly in their practices throughout the school year.

Educators For Excellence

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Syeita Rhey-Fisher – 2024 Black History Month Educator Spotlight