Narratives of race and poverty often interact in a toxic way for young people of color in the United States. Stereotyped as lazy or dangerous, young people of color frequently encounter economic, social, educational, and personal security challenges that diminish their opportunities and are barriers to their success.
On October 23, the Race, Prosperity, and Inclusion Initiative at Brookings hosted a discussion with two 2019 Teachers of the Year on how they have been working to upend the pernicious impact of these toxic narratives and empower their students to thrive.
2019 National Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson teaches grades 6 through 12 at Virgie Binford Education Center inside the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center in Virginia. Robinson chose to teach young people in the juvenile justice system because he wanted to better understand the school-to-prison pipeline and now advocates for a “whole child approach” to teaching that fosters social and emotional growth as integral to academic success.
2019 Alaska Teacher of the Year Danielle Riha is a middle school teacher at Alaska Native Cultural Charter School in Anchorage. Because many of her students are Alaska natives, Riha has developed a curriculum that emphasizes “culturally responsive teaching” including “Math in the Cultural Context” modules, which are now being used in districts all over the state of Alaska.
Following the conversation, speakers answered questions from the audience.