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3 Things to Avoid During Honor Black History Month Celebrations
Posted 2/17/2020 at 4:21:12 PM by ESC Communications [System User]
Words Celebrate (in grey) Black (in red) History (in green) Month (in yellow) in caps on black

By: Dr. Sierra Austin, ESC of Central Ohio Regional School Improvement Coordinator of Diversity & Equity

In my last blog post, I provided some history on how Black History Month (BHM) came to be and three ways you can honor BHM with your students. In this blog post, I’ll provide three things to keep in mind during your BHM celebrations to avoid doing harm. 

  • Committing cultural appropriation: Cultural appropriation occurs when members a dominant group mock, mimic, adopt, or steal aspects of the cultural identities of less powerful groups. This includes, but is not limited to, historically/culturally significant aspects of dress, speaking, hairstyling, art, and other practices.

     If you are unsure about something, consider the following questions:

  1. How respectful is this to African American/Black cultures?
  2. “Why am I doing this?” Do I have a genuine investment in it, or is it trendy? How can I further my own knowledge about this? Can I solicit the expertise of others to help execute this lesson/project?
  3. What is the source of the idea or artifact? Where, and with whom, did it originate? Are they given credit for their contribution?
  • Shrinking Heroes: What other, perhaps lesser known, leaders exist other than Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.? Additionally, it is important to highlight to the contributions of those who were/are multiply marginalized, such as women leaders or LGBTQ pioneers.
  • Doing nothing: Honoring and celebrating BHM is a treat for everyone! African American and Black histories are a vital part of U.S. History. Further, consider how you can incorporate the importance of these legacies all year, not just in February.

Dr. Sierra Austin is a graduate of the Department of Women's and Gender Studies at The Ohio State University, with a focus on race and social justice. Sierra's research (done in our member district Columbus City Schools), activism, work focused on education equity and prioritizes operationalizing intersectional approaches to social change. She offers professional development through the ESC focused on equity, consultation, and community workshops. 

Email Sierra to see how she can help support your school or district! 

3 Ways to Honor Black History Month in Your Classroom
Posted 2/14/2020 at 4:07:39 PM by ESC Communications [System User]
Letters BHM and words Black History Month are on red, yellow, green background.
By: Dr. Sierra Austin, ESC of Central Ohio Regional School Improvement Coordinator of
Diversity & Equity

How We Got Here

Black History Month (BHM) is a federally recognized, national commemoration of the contributions of people of the African Diaspora. This celebration originated in 1926 by historian and educator Carter G. Woodson, the first person born to enslaved parents to graduate from Harvard University. While BHM began as a week-long celebration, it was expanded to the full month of February in 1976 by President Gerald Ford. 

Woodson chose February to honor the birthdays of prolific writer, orator, and abolitionist Frederick Douglass (whose exact birthday is unknown), and President Abraham Lincoln, who signed the Emancipation Proclamation that abolished slavery in the confederate states.

3 Ways to Honor Black History Month

Here are three way to promote awareness, equity, and social change related to BHM:

  • Acknowledge it: Utilize the opportunity to celebrate this federally recognized month with your students and colleagues to honor the legacy and contemporary achievements of people of the African Diaspora! Even if BHM has not previously been celebrated in your school, galvanize others around starting a new tradition!
  • Celebrate: Highlight achievements and contributions, including pre-colonial history and profiles of contemporary figures your students will recognize from politics, education, pop culture, sports, or other areas. While historicizing is important, avoid focusing solely on slavery and Jim Crow. This may be isolating for African American/Black students, particularly in environments where they are the racial minority.
  • Get Creative: Have fun! This is an ideal time to conceptualize out-of-the box activities and lessons to enhance engagement! Students, and colleagues, will appreciate the intellectual energy spent on cultural awareness.

Stay tuned for my next blog post in this two-part series that will provide three tips on what to avoid when honoring BHM.

Dr. Sierra Austin is a graduate of the Department of Women's and Gender Studies at The Ohio State University, with a focus on race and social justice. Sierra's research (done in our member district Columbus City Schools), activism, work focused on education equity and prioritizes operationalizing intersectional approaches to social change. She offers professional development through the ESC focused on equity, consultation, and community workshops. 

Email Sierra to see how she can help support your school or district!

Welcome to ESC Connect!
Posted 1/10/2020 at 12:59:57 PM by ESC Communications [System User]
Tom Goodney HeadshotHi, I'm ESC of Central Ohio Superintendent Tom Goodney, and I'd like to personally welcome you to our new blog.

We've created ESC Connect to not only highlight the work we do every day in support of Central Ohio schools, educators, and students, but to also provide thoughtful insights, actionable information, and expert advice that you can use in your ongoing mission to improve outcomes for students.
 
What You Can Look Forward to Reading on ESC Connect
  • Highlights of our programs, services, and partners we work with to enable success for students in education and our communities
  • Stories covering efforts around literacy, continuous improvement strategies, English Learner supports, and more
  • Tips and best practices from our experts on the challenges we hear you're facing every day
  • Introductions of the people who make the ESC what is it and how they are supporting schools
  • Answers to the most frequently asked questions we hear when we're working in the districts 

We work with numerous partners in schools and districts, government, the nonprofit sector, and the business community and believe it's important that we share these stories and the resulting work with others in hopes that it can help you further your unique mission with students, families, and the community.

We invite you to join this conversation! The success of our programs and services is dependent on the success of our partners, so we want to share your goals, efforts, and successes as well. None of us can do this alone. 

What's Next
In an upcoming post, you'll hear about a new pre-apprenticeship/apprenticeship program effort that we are collaboratively working on with a local school district, a business partner, and a state government agency to give students more opportunities for success. 

Thank you for being part of this and thank you for your role in helping students succeed.