Tag Archives: Early Career Educator of Color Leadership Awards

A Passion That Never Dies

This post is written by member Chawanna Bethany Chambers.

I’m nearly ten years removed from the freshly minted, aspiring teacher that I was in December 2007 after graduating Magna Cum Laude from Texas Lutheran University’s teaching program. I had major plans to change the face of education and bring fun back to learning for children. Education was serious business in my eyes, and I wouldn’t be complacent in what seemed to be a growing focus on exam accuracy and a stagnating view of child development. Didn’t kids need to know more than how to fill in the bubble without stray marks?

While I hadn’t yet narrowed down what my professional focus would be in the field, I knew that to gain credibility with my peers, parents, students, and community, I needed to produce some results and demonstrate my abilities. To lay the groundwork for what would become my educational legacy, I served faithfully in a variety of teaching positions. I was a Head Start prekindergarten teacher, an 8th- and 9th-grade public school English teacher, a department chair, a 7th-grade US history and 8th-grade humanities international school teacher, a grade 6–12 online English teacher, a curriculum developer, an instructional coach, a university adjunct instructor, and more. In 2010 I was selected as one of NCTE’s Early Career Educator of Color Leadership Award recipients.

I kept that flame ignited through the years and worked diligently to gather a depth and breadth of knowledge of the field so that I would be as prepared as possible to one day found my own educational nonprofit and public charter school. In November 2016, I took the next step and established Single Seed Enrichment School, Inc., which serves as a nonprofit organization that provides free tutoring services to children in my hometown of San Antonio, Texas. In addition to hoping to expand our influence in 2017, I will apply for an open enrollment charter in the state of Texas and start a preK–12 public charter school that uses competency-based education and blended learning to expose San Antonio children to international and service learning in August 2019.

In the meantime, I curate a blog in which I provide parents and educators with various resources and musings on topics in education. I hope to be a valued source of information for anyone interested in supporting children’s educational experiences. Currently, I’m excited to be engaging in research on K–12 online learning, as this avenue of education can provide greater access to quality instruction for children around the world. I’m also looking forward to speaking at conferences and providing even more professional development to fellow educators who want to learn more about competency-based education, blended learning, student voice, or dynamic teaching.

I value the work of teachers around the world, especially those who do their best to support every child in public school classrooms. If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that our greatest successes often come when we have a solid support system in place. Our families need support. Our students need support. Our teachers need support. I am not the same novice educator that I once was, and my passion has grown along with my skills. As I’ve honed my craft, my desire for change has intensified. I’m eternally thankful for the like-minded individuals who’ve encouraged my growth along the way.  The time has come for me to return those favors to the world around me.

Dr. Chawanna Bethany Chambers is a national award-winning and board-certified preK–20 educator committed to the enhancement of American public school education. She serves in a variety of capacities that contribute to education advocacy and family empowerment. 

Part 2: How I Stayed in Teaching

This post (the second of two parts) is written by member Lorena Germán. You can read the first part here

lorena-german-2-2-2After teaching at my alma mater for several years, I was exhausted. I was exhausted with the oppressive structure and the feeling of powerlessness as I watched mistreatment of students occur at the hands of teachers, administrators, and the overall system. I saw teachers abuse students verbally and even straddle the “physical abuse” fence. I saw decisions made that were not at all in the best interests of the student. I saw adults blindly follow rules and policies because we all felt powerless to a certain extent. There were days when I felt a part of the problem and not a part of the solution. I watched co-workers leave year after year; the turnover was probably the only constant considering new trends, new curricula, new school leaders, and new projects.

In my last year at that school, I learned about NCTE’s Early Career Educator of Color Leadership Award, but I hesitated to apply. I was unsure if I would get it and if it would be beneficial. Ultimately, I applied and then forgot about it until June, when I was at graduate school and received a notice that I was one of the six cohort members that year. Beyond being excited, I felt acknowledged and respected. Acceptance into this program was an affirmation that my passion was being recognized and appreciated.

My mentor, Anna J. Roseboro, was a great mentor and she helped me that year when I was home and pregnant and strongly reconsidering returning to the classroom. I couldn’t go back and deal with that intensity or the oppressive system anymore. Through our conversations and her support, she helped me remember my passion for teaching. She didn’t know what I was thinking or feeling, but her comments kept reminding me of my love for the craft.

The project I took on with my cohort was meaningful, and I really enjoyed synthesizing all of our research and ideas. We presented at the 2015 NCTE Annual Convention in Minneapolis on redefining texts and identifying multicultural texts for use in the classroom. Our presentation was strong and our work was important. It was such a powerful experience for me, and it came at the right time. I’ll always be grateful to the people I met through this experience who continue to be mentors in some way: Anna J. Roseboro, Dr. Mila Fuller, Dr. Isabel Baca, Dr. Tonya Perry, and my cohort members. Through this award, I have expanded my professional network, found a sustained motivation for my career, and acquired the drive to grow and think big.

Lorena Germán is a twelfth-year Dominican American educator working with young people in Austin, Texas. She has been published by NCTE, ASCD, EdWeek, and others and is an active member of the Bread Loaf Teacher Network. An NCTE Early Career Educator of Color Leadership Award recipient, Lorena is a wife, mami, teacher, and writer.   Follow her on Twitter @nenagerman.