From the Podcast Archives: My Conversation with Instructional Coach Mrs. Nita Creekmore

On the blog, I share my wonderful conversation with Nita Creekmore, take a read to our impactful conversation and take a listen if you want to hear it for yourself.
 
Jebeh Edmunds

All right. Hello, everyone. This is Jebeh Edmunds here, and welcome again to the Cultural Curriculum Chat podcast, where I teach you multicultural education and classroom strategies and best practices. So I’m here to introduce you today in the guest chair, Mrs. Nita Creekmore. I love it. I love it. I tell you, she’s my diverse book bestie in my head. I’m so excited to have her on this show.

Mrs. Nita Creekmore

I love that. Thank you.

Jebeh Edmunds

So let me give you a little background audience before we chat with Nita. Nita Creekmore is an instructional coach who lives just outside Atlanta, Georgia. In the 18 years she has been in education. She truly believes that in all aspects of the field, relationships must always come first. She’s obtained a Bachelor’s in English, Masters in Elementary Education, and also an educational specialist in supervision and leadership. Nita is married to Michael Creekmore Jr. And has four children. In her free time, she loves spending time with her family and friends, attending her kids activities, and practicing yoga and relaxing with a good book. Nita believes that building relationships is foundational. The importance of self care and the impact of diverse read alouds on students of all ages and backgrounds to transform the world. I am so excited for this transformational chat, you all. Thank you. Welcome, Nita. Welcome to the show.

Mrs. Nita Creekmore

Thank you, Jeb. I’m so excited to be here. Thank you for having me and asking me to be on and talking and chatting. All the things I love. I appreciate that. Thank you.

Jebeh Edmunds

For having me. The pleasure is all mine. So yes, give of our audience your background in multicultural education.

Mrs. Nita Creekmore

Yes. I think it began even before I started teaching when I was learning as a student, a student teacher. I started collecting lots and lots of books, the books that I could get my hands on. I say back then. I’m 43. So it was like in 1998, there really weren’t a ton of book that I began to really engulf in because I really think a lot of multicultural education is through learning history, is through that. But I think the connection is, like, literacy is the books that helps us to learn. And so even then, I was like, oh, my God, Debbie Allen wrote a book on dance and it seemed like the wings. Those are some of the beginnings. I was like, oh, it’s some of the rich, rich, rich illustrations that would go along with that, too. So even then was my journey along the way. So as I was learning to be a teacher, as I was learning to be an educator, I was also engulfing myself in children’s literature. That was one of my favorite classes that I took and really looking at and really diving into critically looking at children’s books and children’s literature.

 Mrs. Nita Creekmore

As my journey went on, I would engulf those just in my day to day as a teacher, engulf it into interdisciplinary studies, into science, into social studies. It was one of those things that I felt like, Oh, I feel like this all my kids need to be seen. Of course, I love to see myself in books because it’s not something that I grew up with. But my mom would give me the books that… It was a folk tale book and I can’t think of Virginia Hamilton. And she got me those books. And those had like this book.

Jebeh Edmunds

The People Could Fly.

Mrs. Nita Creekmore

Yeah. She would bring those home and I’d be like, Oh, engulfing myself in those. But at the time, I think I was little and there were a lot of books that I was represented in during that time. So just in that, just threading that throughout, just me being a teacher and wanting to learn about my students and their identities and where they came from and wanting to value them and celebrate them, it was one of those things that just became what I do. Just what I do each day. That was my story and into multicultural education.

Jebeh Edmunds

And just like you’re saying, too, Nita, just that spark that opened, like, wow, that representation is me on the bookshelf. But who else can I invite into my classroom that represents all the kids? Because the eyes of our students, when they see themselves, they sit up a little taller, and they can grab that book off their shelf when they’re doing their read alo ons, and they can sit up and learn more about their groups of other groups of people. That’s just awesome.

Mrs. Nita Creekmore

Absolutely.

Jebeh Edmunds

Also, too, Anita, even being, like you said, we’re about the same age. I’m right there with you with the small minutiae of representation of African American children’s literature. What have you noticed now in this push for more multicultural literature in our classrooms? What have you noticed now?

Mrs. Nita Creekmore

So the first thing I noticed is that there’s still tons of work to be done. I feel like so much work has been done, and I collect all these books and I have books all over my house. And when the studies are shown, the data is shown, it’s still not enough. It’s still not enough. But what I’ve noticed in that, in including multicultural education and making sure that it’s not just something that we add on to the plate, this is the plate. It’s the thread. It’s the thread that builds our kids confidence. It’s the thread that allows our kids to say, Oh, me too. That’s the thing that is like, Oh, me too. When you think about… And one thing, there’s one lesson that I always think about, and it’s done in third grade here in Georgia, it’s colonialism. And it’s a lesson I see often, and I’m always thinking really critically and asking critical questions to spark this in educators is, yes, okay, I see you dressing up in your colonial this and your hat and your apron and your this and your that, and you’re having fun and you’re making better and you’re doing that, and you’re showing one aspect of what was going on during that time.

 Mrs. Nita Creekmore

What other voices, what other cultures, what was happening during that time with Native peoples, Indigenous people? What was happening? Where am I? Where are my people? Where are my ancestors? What’s happening with them during that time while you’re turning the butter? Those are things that I’m thinking of when I’m thinking of lessons. Because guess what? I was a seven year old, eight year old in that classroom learning this cologne real time period, and I’m thinking, Great, where’s my people at? What’s happening with them? Those are the tickets for multicultural education. And so the thing is, where am I seen in this? And if you teach students that are like the majority of your class, let’s say, identify as white, that’s still learning experiences for them, too. School’s voices aren’t being taught. Who’s white? Voices aren’t being heard. And go find the literature. Go find the literature, go find the book, go find… And so do that work because when you do that, it connects the kids to other cultures, other worlds, and it teaches them how to be human beings, empathetic human beings. That’s a lesson that always sticks out in my mind is where are the other voices?

Jebah Edmunds

Where are the other people? Where are the other voices? Yes. And do you also recognize, too, you, Nita. And when I was in the classroom, I felt there was this hesitation from the teachers in the majority who identify as white culture of, Well, that was such a hard time. I said, But you need to… Like you said, Nita, where am I? Where are my people at this time in history? And I always told my fifth grade students when we talked about European contact in our social studies series in Minnesota was, we need to talk about the multiple lenses and the different voices at that time to get the whole picture of what it is. Because like you said, that danger… Was it Chimamanda and Guzzleditche said the danger of a single story. And I feel like a lot of us educators, we’re scared to rock the boat, but we know that boat is there and we know the waves are there. So like you said, besides just churning butter, we have to have that conversation. And I think our students can handle it it if you have it in a compassionate, empathic way for them to understand.

Mrs. Nita Creekmore

Absolutely. And something I was going to say while you were talking and something that jog my mind, too, is that teachers have to get out of their comfort zone. It might make you a little uncomfortable to have that conversation. And so practice with other colleagues. So this is where I put leaders in the organizations as well is that this should be the work. This should be the work. And so if this is the work, unless I’m assuming positive intent, we’re all saying that this is the work, practice these conversations. Have your teachers get in groups and practice having some of these lesson studies and getting used to having the conversation with each other. And so then I’m used to having this conversation, whose voices aren’t heard, do some research together for some lessons. lessons.  Whose voices aren’t?  How do we do this research?  Where do we find this research?  How do we know this is credible?  How do we know these books are credible, right?  And so we do those types of professional learning in your staff meetings and your  professional learning. So then when your teachers go out in front of kids in front of students, they’re equipped to have these conversations.  And so I think that’s some of the issue is like get used to having these hard  conversations amongst each other in the educational community.  And then when you can when you go in front of your students, you can have these conversations and not feel I call it sweaty pits or like you feel uncomfortable. 

Your hands are off.  I mean, kids can, you know, they can sense it.  They’re like, oh, no, Miss Creeper is nervous to have this conversation.  But I think you feel more equipped to have this conversation. And then you also when you have a hard time having this conversation with these conversations, you have a buddy across the hall that you’ve done this work with.  Right.  And so you have something.  Hey, you know, I had this conversation.  This student asked this question.  I don’t know how to answer it.  Right. And you build a community there, a community of the work of the work that should be the foundation.  

Jebeh Edmunds

Yes.  And I love how you said that the practice, you know, we’re always modeling as  educators how to perform and do the content in an actionable way. But we also have to turn it in on ourselves to to do the practice. 

And I think what you said, Nita, was very important because a lot of us when we  get the sweaty pits and we get nervous is because we didn’t practice, you know,  or it’s, you know, oh, it’s Black History Month.  Let’s get out the tub. It’s like I’m still black all year. 

We can do this all year.  We can incorporate it in science and in math and, you know, and it is.  And I feel like a lot of us educators, you know, we want to have that time and  breath, but we don’t have this. We’re trying and I feel like, you know, to urge them to practice with your teammates, practice, bounce off ideas, because as educators, we want our students  to be critical thinkers.  But if we can’t do the critical thinkers.  But if we can’t do the critical thinking, how are they supposed to in turn do  that? 

Mrs. Nita Creekmore

Yeah. So, yes, I’m saying yes, yes, yes. 

Like inside, I’m like, yes.  And then I’m thinking, too, we’re learners ourselves.  I’m still learning.  There are so many cultures out there that I’m still learning about.  Right. And so modeling that learning, one, in community with other educators saying, yes, I know a lot about black folks because I’m black.  Right.  But I’m still learning about other cultures.  Right.  I’m still learning about other worlds.  And so modeling that, because then I feel like that allows everyone to see each  other as humans. Like there’s sometimes that I get it wrong, too. 

Right.  And there’s sometimes that I have to pull back and say, ooh, I didn’t get it  right that time.  And I have to relearn and unlearn and also tap into other people and their  cultures and learn from them. And I think that’s kind of what happens here. 

And, yes, I’m black, but that doesn’t mean I’m like, one, I know black people,  but we’re not a monolith.  Right.  Exactly.  We’re still learning each other.  And so I think that once we realize that we’re all learners and the work is ours together in community and collectively, then I think that then the work is threaded.  Then we’re together in this.  And I think that some of the some we’re division lines.  And, you know, I’m rooted in love.  I’m rooted in compassion.  And I just feel like once we get that together in community, we can we can  thrive together. And then when we thrive together, our students will thrive. 

Jebeh Edmunds

Definitely.  And, yes, please share with our audience your Love, Teach, Bless brand.  I mean, I love your tagline that says inspired educators inspire educators. You know, I mean, that’s how we thrive in this educational space.

It’s like, oh, I found this resource I’m always willing to share, you know.  And when you get that spark, it just you relive that enjoyment.  So please share with us.  I just love your platform of this Love, Teach, and Bless.  

Mrs. Nita Creekmore

Yes.  Yeah. So I started this when I was like still in the classroom. 

I was still in education.  I taught for 13 years and I started just sharing fun things, things that I  feel like inspired me in my journey.  And so when I came up with the tagline like inspired educators inspire educators, it really was from a community standpoint, like in a sense of 

like, because I’m inspired, I can maybe light up a spark that may have  been dim in you, right?  Because I’m so inspired.  Or sometimes when I’m dim in my journey, someone else who has a spark helps to light flare that up in me, right? 

And then it helps me to get inspired.  And I think I feel like that’s what education and educators is about is  that sometimes my light may not always be lit, right?  Sometimes I need someone else in community who’s whose light is lit. So it’d be like fire it up for me a 

And once I see that you’re inspired, I’m like, okay, let me get on this  bandwagon again.  You kind of lit something in me.  And so that kind of what started my journey of Love, Teach, Bless.  And I just feel like when I decided with the name of Love, Teach, Bless, one, I’m rooted in love always. 

I really try to root in love always.  I really try to assume like positive intent.  And when there’s times when I have to call in, I do it in love, like in  love.  And then when I teach, I’m always a teacher.  Like I always am a teacher. I’m an instructional coach, and I’m always an educator, always educating, always an educator.  I feel like I’ve been in this game.  I mean, this is what my 18th year in education.  This is a part of me.  So even though I’m a coach, I love teaching.  And I tell people this at a point where I was at a high.  So like my light was lit. And I tell people all the time, when you’re in a shift, when you’re in the shift and you’re shifting from a role to role, whether I’m shifting  from teacher to principal, teacher to vice principal, teacher to  instructional coach, do it at a time where your light is still lit. Because you’re not, you go into that space so ready. 

Because I tell people all the time, like I miss being a teacher.  I love being a coach.  But there were times when my teachers, I’d be like, oh, I need to get  in somebody’s classroom.  Let me get in your classroom.  I need this.  Because my light was already, oh, it’s lit. Or when I see an awesome lesson from a teacher, I’d be like, oh, my 

goodness.  Like it would just spark so much in me.  And that’s where the teacher comes from.  And blessed is like I hope that what I share always is a blessing to  others.  There’s so many times that people are such a blessing to me. And I feel like it’s like the flow of water. 

It’s like one of those things that’s like you’re a blessing to me.  I hope I bless you.  And so like it’s one of those things.  And that’s kind of where Love Teach Bless came from.  And then from that, it just birthed something completely incredible.  It’s something that is my passion and my joy. I’ve met so many amazing people through my social media and through 

the work that I’ve been doing through Love Teach Bless, including  you, Debbie.  And so like I just, you know, it’s one of those things that it’s been  a blessing to my life.  And so everything I do, everything I do is one of those things that’s  not calculated. People always ask me, how did you grow your account? 

How did you do this?  And I would love to say like there’s like some like magical puzzle  that I put together.  I just was my authentic self.  Like I just posted things and put things online that like meant a lot to me, meant a lot to the people that I’ve been in contact with, 

whether it’s my students or other teachers or the community that I  serve.  And yeah, that’s just, that’s been my journey.  

Jebeh Edmunds

Love that.  And yes, that’s how I found you on Instagram because you look like  me. You have this bright, energetic personality and you’re seven pages. 

I mean, you inspired me to find books for me to put on my YouTube  channel to read and share with others and record and share with my  teacher friends.  And so thank you for doing that because like you said, you’re, you are a blessing to us educators of showing and you’re welcome love.  It’s from the bottom of my heart because like I said, you are like  my book bestie.  Like you showed this reel the other day where you’ve got all these  stacks of books, step one through five.  And I’m like, that’s me.  I feel seen. Like I cannot leave a bookstore without books, you know? 

And I’m like, my husband Andy is just like, oh gosh, you know, he  knows when I buy more, where are we going to put this?  I’m like, it’s for work, you know?  Yeah.  So it’s, yeah, I just feel seen. When I saw you post that, I was like, yep, that’s my life. 

Yep.  I feel seen, you know?  Yeah.  So thank you.  Oh my gosh.  This has just been an amazing chat, Nita.  And please don’t hesitate.  I will definitely put your information in the show notes so everyone can also follow your Love Teach Bless journey as well. 

Thank you.  And just before we go, is there any other tips that you have for us  educators on this multicultural social justice and education space  that we’re in right now?  

Mrs. Nita Creekmore

I do want to share some books. I would be remiss if I didn’t share some books to help out with that. 

So one book that I’ve just been really loving so much is Literacy  is Liberation.  I don’t know if you have this book.  It’s by Kimberly Parker and it’s working toward justice through  cultural relevant teaching. And there’s some questions in there that you can ask, you know, if  you should teach this text.  And it’s just a really, really good book.  Another one that I always want to share is Street Data is another  amazing good book.  And the reason why I want to share Street Data is by Shane, Saphir and Jamila, I think it’s Dugan. I’m sorry if I say your name wrong.  But it says, you know, radically imagine, reimagine how you take data and what data u take for your student and that just sending equity. The reasoning why i share those books is because lots of time when we taking data nas were doing test. We are looking for multicultural data. There are few books i came up with i definitely say and you will learn alot and your audience will too. So these are some books that you really need to reimagine what books you need and how education can look like . This is for majority but for the world of majority

Jebeh Edmunds

That what equity all about , you know.So everyone that fits everyone needs. Thats amazing. Nita it just been a blessing to have you in the guest chair and audience follow Nita on Love , Teach , Bless on instagram and i will have more details in the show notes where you can follow her.

Alright , thanks everyone and have a wonderful day

 

 

You can find more information about Nita Creekmore below:
https://love-teach-bless.com/

Nita Creekmore on Instagram @loveteachbless

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1495555/11941863-season-3-episode-1-my-conversation-with-instructional-coach-mrs-nita-creekmore.mp3?download=true

 

From the Podcast Archives: A Conversation with Author Tiffaney Whyte

Here’s another podcast episode in the archives that I share with you on the blog today. Take a read, then take a listen below 🙂 
Jebeh Edmunds

Hello, everyone. This is Jebeh Edmunds, and welcome back to the Cultural Curriculum Chat podcast. I am just so excited. I have a wonderful teacher who shares her bright light with her students and infuses inclusion and multicultural educational practices that we can learn from every day. Welcome Tiffany White. I’m just going to share real quick about Tiffaney. Tiffaney Whyte is an author, an elementary special education teacher, business owner, and mother of two young adults who reside in Atlanta, Georgia. Tiffaney is originally from Brooklyn, New York. She is passionate about spreading joy and positivity in her classroom. Tiffaney created her brand, the D’Avian Blu Innovations, to empower and motivate fellow educators as they cultivate young minds. Tiffany’s motto is do what makes you happy, create joy for yourself. When you find that, keep going and don’t stop. In 2014, Tiffaney started her Teachers wear Yellow on Monday campaign. This initiative promotes joy and positivity among educators by having them wear something yellow every Monday of the school year. I’m just so honored to have you in the guest chair. Tiffaney, welcome. Welcome, welcome.

Tiffaney Whyte

Thank you for having me here.

Jebeh Edmunds

Thank you. I just have been a big fan of your work. You’ve got a wonderful book out called Nicole and the Fifth Grade Desk. I can’t wait to order it. And you have lots of strategies for educators, your T shirts. Everything you just embody is inspiration that just keeps us going, especially in this work. And can you share with our audience, Tiffaney? What is your story? I know you’re from BK, but what else that helps us learn more about you and your work?

Tiffaney Whyte

Okay. My name is Tiffaney. I am an educator, mom, sister, aunt, all of those things. My story is that I always wanted to be an educator. Growing up, I always wanted to be educated. That was my lifelong dream, and I accomplished it. My story is I have two children, two young adults, as you said, and I just love bringing joy and positivity to everyone that I meet. It’s important for me for someone to feel something when they meet me or for me to feel something when I meet them, especially the young adults and the young children that I work with.

Jebeh Edmunds

Every day. What did you observe in your formative years before you became a mother and an educator, was there something missing that you wish you had in education that reflected you?

Tiffaney Whyte

Here’s the thing. There was nothing missing in education that I didn’t have that didn’t reflect me. I went to school in Brooklyn, New York, very diverse community. All of my teachers looked like me, sound like me. They were of West Indian background. I went to a seven day Adventist elementary school from pre K to eighth grade. Every educator that I had looked like me until I went to high school. When I went to high school, I had educators of different backgrounds. My educational years were wonderful. The teachers were of Caribbean descent. One thing they would say is, Listen, your mother already told me what to do with you when you act up. I already knew that. It was like a real community. I love my elementary years. I love my high school years because they really embodied the culture.

Jebeh Edmunds

That’s amazing. Like you said, too, your educators around were a part of your community as a whole. I feel like a lot of us educators need that parental support and backing and that your teacher said, Yeah, we have your parents backing, so don’t try it.

Tiffaney Whyte

They tell me often of that.

Jebeh Edmunds

I.

Tiffaney Whyte

Do. Yes.

Jebeh Edmunds

It’s with love, too, to say, if anything, everyone is surrounding you and we’ve got you. I just love that. I love that story. That’s very positive. As a parent, what experiences have you embodied yourself and reflected as a parent and as an educator with your students now?

Tiffaney Whyte

I was a young adult parent. My daughter’s 24, so that just tells you I was a young adult parent. As a young adult parent, I had to navigate through a lot of stereotypes, and I had to navigate through what I wanted to do in my life and how I can accomplish those things. I really had to take a step back and look at my environment and look at the people around me and look at what were they doing that I didn’t do or that I can do. I teach fifth grade, but a lot of the times I have to tell my students just a little bit about my story. I have to tell them that I am an educator, but sometimes you do not make mistakes, but sometimes you do take learning curves. Even though you have those curves, you can still accomplish the things that you want to do. I did. I had learning curves. Being a young mother, first year college student, I had a lot of learning curves, but I still was able to persevere and still make my accomplishments, my greatest accomplishments. And I am super proud of myself for that.

Jebeh Edmunds
Yes, that’s amazing, Tiffaney. And I love how you reframe that mistakes. There’s a lot of shame behind the word mistake, but how you say learning curve. And as educators, we’re constantly lifelong learners. When you said fifth grade, I mean, you already have my fifth grade teacher heart because I taught fifth grade, too. It’s like, oh, we would have been awesome teammates.
Tiffaney Whyte

I love teaching fifth grade. I’ve taught kindergarten, I’ve taught first grade, second grade, third grade. I taught high school. High school one year. But it’s something about teaching fifth grade that just lights me up.

Jebeh Edmunds
I love it. Thank you so much because those fifth graders, they need to know, especially getting over that transitional period to junior high, middle school. It’s like, you’re going to have a lot of learning curves, but don’t let that deter you from your ultimate hopes and dreams. I really like that. Another thing I found on your platform that was really affirming is your affirmation cards on your mirrors and how the words, I’m droopy, I’m popping. Those are like fifth grade young people talk and that they can see themselves and stand up a little taller, sit up a little taller. The materials and the content that you’re sharing with a lot of us teachers is such a gift because a lot of us educators are thinking, Okay, what can we do? Especially halfway through the school year, how do we boost morale? You have things that are quick and easy to do, and you can do it in a minute to get things ready and going for your students. Is there anything else that you can suggest to us teachers that is specific to multicultural education and inclusion practices that they could use?
Tiffaney Whyte

I’m going to suggest very simple things. I love music. Music is like my heart and my soul. I feel like music always bridges everybody together. If you’re having a down day, a happy day, you put on a song, and everybody gets into the groove of music. You can always incorporate any cultural music and people would love it. Music brings joy, music brings sadness, music brings happiness. But I love incorporating music into my daily work. Every morning, I’m listening to music in the car, whether it’s rap music, Soca music, reggae music, track music, whatever. Then when I come to school, I’m doing the same thing, too. I’m in the hallway, so I have hallway duties. I make sure that I’m playing music, I’m singing music. I can’t sing, but the kids tell me every day that I’m a great singer, but I’m not. I love it. I try to encompass everything music. At my school, it’s not diverse in culture. When I play music, I make sure that I play a diversity of music because I want to always bring in my culture into anything I do.

Jebeh Edmunds                
I love that. You said music just brings that energy and it keeps kids engaged. I’m from Liberia originally, and I emigrated to Minnesota with my parents. And even doing some afro beats during brain breaks and things like that to keep them going. And then we’re journaling, and there’s a mandarin flute in the background or some Celtic music in between snack. You’re right. It’s a great transitional period of starting your day, keeping things going. I just love that. And yeah, you sing better than me. I’ve seen you post a post. You are singing at the top of your lungs on good 90s hits. And I can just imagine your students, oh, man, here we go. But that’s the thing I feel like as an educator, you really want to hook your students in. You kind of have to go all out, you know, to really have them remember you and how you make them feel at the end of the day. 
Tiffaney Whyte

yeah, because it’s all about relationships and how you make, you know, I read something the other day that said that education is not centered. It has to be relationship centered. And I was like, Wow, that’s important because relationships with your students is how you kind of navigate how they’re doing, what they’re doing and what they’re going to do for you. Yeah. You know.  

Jebeh Edmunds  

they show you their best when you give them that safe space and that, you know, that feeling of, Oh yeah, let’s try it. So yeah, sometimes I’ll do the Tootsie Roll in between handwriting way back in the day. But those are the things you have to try. And I just know even my students that are adults now come back and go, Oh, we used to do the birthday dance. It’s like, Yeah, things like that. You know, that relationship piece. Oh, thank you, Thank you. Yes. You have talked about music. You have talked about, you know, learning curves. Let’s share more about your work as an author. I love books and I can’t wait to read your book. I just ordered it, so I can’t wait to read it and put it on my YouTube to go, Yes, I know her. 

Tiffaney Whyte

Thank you. Thank you so much. Nicole. And the fifth grade desk was inspired by my students and my niece. Right. So my niece had the hardest time with school and my students. I feel like that transition from fifth grade to sixth grade can be a very tiresome one. So I came up with the A desk that talks to them and the desk is going to tell them about the first day and tell them all about the great things that we do in fifth grade and tell them all about the great things that your teachers are going to be and how you’re going to feel. And then it does have some educational background because we talk about figurative language, try to add some standard and some content in there figurative language. And the most important part is that desk don’t speak, right, They don’t talk right. So to have a desk talk is the epitome of figurative language, right? So it’s just an all around great book about a student that looked like me having a conversation with a desk and a teacher that looks like her. So I really I loved writing Nicole in the fifth grade. Jess It just came to me one, I’ve been thinking about it for a long time, but I was like, Oh, no. And then I was like, You know what, Tiffaney? This is a great story and I think everyone needs to read it. You know, despite that, it says fifth grade. It can go for any grade level because students are always scared in the beginning of the school year and middle of the school year and in the school year, because I have students start I had a student start last week, Monday, the first day of school, first day of my school. So. You can always read Nicole in the fifth grade desk.

Jebeh Edmunds  

I’m so excited. And trust me, I can’t wait to share it out. And I will definitely send the information of where you can order Tiffaney’s. Nicole in the fifth grade desk. I just love it how you’re saying we’re seniors of the building, You know, like. Yeah, yeah. Sit a little taller building. I just love that. And you’re right. Every grade level, you know, elementary school, high school, middle school, there’s always that new kid that comes in. It’s uneasy. Even if you’re all new on the first day, we all have those jitters of what to expect and what to do. And I can’t wait to share this book with the audience and any other things before we wrap up. Tiffaney, it’s just been so nice to speak with you and hang out with another fellow educator this morning and anything else, any other.  

Tiffaney Whyte

grade, fifth grade fellow educator just so thankful. This journey has been an amazing journey and it didn’t start out that way. The reason why I started this journey is because I was down about teaching and I felt like I didn’t. I felt like I wasn’t appreciated or I felt like I was being picked on and I wanted something to motivate me. And this journey motivated me. And in fact, it motivated me to motivate other people, right? So that’s why I always try to make sure that I’m positive, upbeat because I want to motivate educators because our job is very tiresome. Sometimes it can be helpless, selfless, and I want to make sure I motivate us all to appreciate and love the things that we do.

Jebeh Edmunds 

and you are a miss Queen motivator, I tell you, I look forward to every Monday going, okay, I love that shirt. Oh, I like that one. Okay. I got to just be brave one of these days and tag you. Go ahead.  

Let’s do it. Yes. Oh, thank you so much, Tiffaney. I really appreciate you on our show. And yes, cultural curriculum chat friends, I will send all of Tiffany’s information of how you can follow her and purchase her book and all of her amazing brand of Davion blue innovations and to keep us motivated because. Yes , oh thank you so much Tiffaney . I really appreciate you on our show.

And yes Cultural Curriculum Chat  friend I will send all of Tiffaney information how you can follow her and purchase her book and all of her amazing brand  the Avian Blue Innovations and to keep us motivated because yes we all are halfway to the school years alright. Thanks again

If you’d love to listen to this podcast episode. Click the link here

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1495555/11874324-season-2-episode-21-a-conversation-with-author-tiffaney-whyte.mp3?download=true  

 

 

Tiffaney created her brand “De’AvionBlu Innovations to empower and motivate fellow Educators as they cultivate young minds. 


You can purchase Tiffaney’s products on these links below:


https://deavionbluinnovations.com/


https://www.amazon.com/Nicole-Fifth-Grade-Tiffaney-Whyte/dp/B0B8BPKFZ6

FROM THE PODCAST ARCHIVES: MY CONVERSATION WITH AUTHOR SILVANA SPENCE​

From the Podcast Archives: My Conversation with Author, Illustrator Vanessa Brantley Newton

 On today’s blog I share my conversation with author, illustrator Vanessa Brantley Newton, I’ve been such a fan of her books, that I’ve shared in my classroom library over the years. Take a listen below.

JE: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the culture curriculum chat podcast with your host Jebeh Edmunds, I cannot wait to share with you all. An amazing author and illustrator whose energetic prose and pictures will motivate you and inspire you every day. We have with us in the guest chair Mrs.Vanessa Brantley Newton.. Welcome, Vanessa.

VBN: Jebeh It’s such a joy and pleasure to be here with all of you. Thank you so much for inviting me. It’s, it’s indeed a pleasure.

JE:Thank you. So before we get diving into it, I’m gonna share your background real quick with our audience. Vanessa was born during the Civil Rights Movement and attended school in Newark, New Jersey, being part of a diverse tight knit community. During such turbulent times, Vanessa learned the importance of acceptance and empowerment in shaping a young person’s life. When she read snowy day by Ezra Jack Keats, it was the first time she saw herself in a children’s book. It was a defining moment in her life, and has made her into the artist she is today. As an illustrator, she includes children of all ethnic backgrounds in her stories and artwork. She wants all children to see their unique experiences reflected in the books they read. So they can feel the same sense of empowerment and recognition she experienced as a young reader. So I loved reading your biography of Ezra Jack Keats snowy data is one of my favorite books. And can you kind of share with our audience that spark that catalyst for change that made you the author illustrator that you are?

VBN:Oh, my gosh, it’s such an awesome question. And every time I give an answer for this book, because I’m asked that question so many times, it was the 1960s when this book came out, and I actually 1963 the year I was born, and gone to predominantly white schools where I was the only black child in the classroom, and not seeing yourself. As a child, I would walk up to my mom and I would often ask her, Am I invisible? You know, something, something wrong, people can’t see me. And it was because we weren’t granted children’s books where we could actually see ourselves. Everything was if you remember, and you’re my age. I’m 60. This year. Dick and Jane? 

JE: Yes 

VBN:He dumped the magazines, Jack and Jill magazine, and all of these different magazines that came out focused on white children and their stories, you know, and so we as brown children, black children, never really got to see our hair textures, skin, what our parents look like, because I was raised with two parents and two parents who were Christian, you know, and so family was everything, whether you were Christian, Muslim, whatever. Family back then was very important. And my mom and dad would not spend their money on books that did not reflect that. Mrs. Russell, one of my favorite teachers, had one of the biggest afros I think I ever saw in my whole entire life. It was orange. She wore orange dresses that were so short that you did not want her to bend over to go go boots. And she was the coolest teachers I loved, loved love Mrs. Russell, and she wasn’t the nicest teacher in the world. But she knew children who learned different, and I learned different, I am dyslexic, I have something called synesthesia, which is the ability to see smell, feel, taste and your color. And I also am a stutterer. And so she knew that. And I remember the day Jebeh, she picked me up and put me on her lap and open up the snowy day. I am 60 years old. And I still get emotional. But it was the first time that I ever saw a black child. Beautifully painted that look like me. I even had a snowshoe. And so I thought Peter was a child that got lost in the book. That was my brother. And I just need to open that book and I could go and visit him anytime I wanted to reclaim the snow together. It was it was everything that book. As a matter of fact, I’ve cut my husband often when I leave here and go to be with the Lord put my Bible and a copy of the snowy day in my palm because I want to read it to the Lord. When I get there with what I get to have it. It’s that special to me. That book is that special to me. I love that book. 

JE:Yeah, such a beautiful written book. I read it I had the big book when my first grade class just the innocent It’s a child playing in the snow and seeing his tracks and you know and what I see how you have transformed your work. It does give you that childlike glow about it. And it’s bright it’s vibrant and just how you even you know described your teacher in the Orange throne with a golden boots

VBN:Yeah yeah Orange throne with a golden boots. Girl The fashion you have in your character. Yes, honey. Yes. Hello Jabba mascara. 

JE:It’s it’s so vibrant. You’ve got African textiles in it in some of these. You’ve gotten jeans down to the stitching, and I need your attention to detail is just perfection. And what I love about your books, Vanessa, is it does it makes you set a little taller? Because even in 2023, there is this urgency to have more I have colleagues and neighbors and people ask me, Jebeh, where are the books that don’t look like my kids? And I’m like, ooh, do I have books for you? Because we want to have all of our kids to know that Vanessa is in Jebeh’s, we exists. Yeah, existing daily themes. You know, I as an educator, I always would have, you know, my students see me out in the community. And it’s like, yeah, I exist. I do human things. For it to be in a book to open that conversation. I feel like you have done it, my dear. With your becoming Vanessa book. Everybody has their first day of school. Everybody have the jitters? Everybody wants to have their special outfit and with your feather boa and your parents saying, Oh, yes. What are you going to do that special today? And I really, when I read your book, it really took me back to my first day of school experiences. I had a different knee, you know, and how to write it down. And I just love how you juxtapose having two S’s and how you’re still writing your name. Everybody else who’s done.  Every year, we all have students like that they’re still working on their names. Other kids are at the door waiting to go to recess. You know, kids can relate to Vanessa’s story and, and what I love about how you wrote this, and I don’t want to give away too much audience, I want you to get this book, your mother sits you down and shows you and shares with you how important your name is, and why she means that. And I feel as as parents, we need to sit our kids down and say, Do you wonder why I gave you that name? You know, and I feel that gives that child that confidence. And whoa, I know my name and the meaning and why I’m named that and arrogant. eggless. Can you talk more about Yeah, becoming Vanessa. I just love that biographical feel to it.

VBN:I have to tell you and even in what we were first talking about, is I wanted to give children with Ezra Jack Keats .Yes, that that was the whole thing. If I could leave them feeling the same way as you made me feel. The day I got that book. I remember Jebeh going to the library and picking up that book, close to probably 25 times and the librarian threatened me. And he said if he take his book out one more time, she said there are other books that he’s written. Would you like to see them? I read them. And the next week went right back to snowy day. Yeah. You know, in becoming Vanessa. Name names are so important. And this is not to down Americans or America. As far as named, but concerned, this is not not about that. It is when you don’t know you continue to do the same things over and over and over again. When you do know the value starts to come. And then the worse starts to come.

VBN: And then the pride of you know what you have and that’s why naming your child. It’s something so very, very special. It’s looking at that child and it’s there’s something special special about you. And even that is because your mommy and daddy’s baby. There’s something special about you. I remember going here in low country, South Carolina, and I was in art gallery for African American art delegates. You my family’s delegates you from no country governor. Yeah. There was a woman that was in there she was beautiful, gorgeous woman had wrapping all I said, Alexa, what’s your name? And she says my name. I’m trying to remember how she said it. The thing is a great title. And I was so moved when she told them what her name cuz it’s really like a bell when she said it. She said my name is if a title I’ve said oh my god. What is that mean? She said it’s bringer of joy. As I told you, you don’t know how much joy you brought me by sharing your name with me said that name over and over, even if a title if a title. And I was like if I ever have another baby, I’m naming my baby if I type. Because if you’re naming your children names that don’t have any meaning to it, or something derogatory, that’s what you’re calling your child all the time. I lost several children, buried a daughter who would have been 23 years old. I have a 22 year old now named Zoe. VBN:And when I had Zoey, I knew that I wanted to name her Zoe. And the first thing people said to me, Jebeh was, oh, you named Chris Zoe. After Zoe on Sesame Street. I said, No. It’s a biblical name. Zoey needs the God kind of life, there was no depth in it. And I got to hold her. And now that she’s 22 years old, she has become her name. And so when I see her, I tell her constantly, baby girl, you are becoming your name, the God kind of life, there is no death in it. And so when I got my name as a child, I was in what a flight one of the one of the things that I used to do, I would go to school, and when the teacher would give me paint, I would put all the paint in the middle of the page, and then add some stuff together and then pull the page over instant butterfly, and butterfly butterflies. And my mother said neck girl, no, she loves butterflies. My mother was pregnant with my little brother, who was a stillborn as well. And I remember her going through the book and I told her I hate money. She said, You hate your name. Why do you say it it has two x’s in it? Two A’s. It is Harpy. People always ask me why your mama name up next. And I was embarrassed at the name. I remember one of my teachers, one of my teachers, white teacher told me she said that name is too big for you. And when she said that, you know when you said to a six year old that always thought something was wrong with me. And she goes NASA, what a rich name to give a child like you. And the thing to hurt me so bad. I didn’t even know I was hurt Jebeh until I got home.

VBN: And I told my mother I didn’t like my name. And my mom and dad sat me down and then I’ll never forget. They said your name is Vanessa. Do you know what Vanessa means? I had not a clue. She said what’s your favorite thing to draw? Vanessa? Butterflies. So that’s what Vanessa means. It means butterfly, the pride and the joy that I felt in my soul. I still get teary eyed when I tell the story because my self esteem was so in the toilet. I failed completely through school at Cindy’s until I got out of high school. And didn’t want people to call my day. Because I thought something was wrong. When they come by then, of course, she’s dyslexic girl. Oh, she’s a girl. That’s synesthesia now, that crazy stuff. And she started. So every reason to pick on me. So there was like, I don’t know why my parents gave me this name. But in grasping it and now learning it. I just want to empower babies, to know their names. And to know that there was worth to every single one of them. It is so planted in my heart. It is what I pray about in the morning. If God gives me a heart of Christ, where children are concerned, because I love children. I don’t want to see them abused. Don’t call them out in their names, even when it’s something that has really angered you. Take your time and breathe and say what you need to say to them soundly of course and everything. And I am a believer in spanking by. Yes, I got old school. Okay. The second thing, my desire to see children thrive and grow is from a very we’ll we’ll place because I’m five years old, I’m still

JE: And you have done it beautifully. Any time some your gift and I apologize that you felt that way as that child and I remember when I was going into education, my mother she was a teacher just retired a couple years ago and she always said it’s it’s yeah, a big blessing. My favorite teacher was my mom in it. Like, she always said, you know that one may need to see your face that you exists that you’ve done wrong in that role in two. I always thought of the words of Maya Angelou, they’ll never remember the lesson you taught them how you made them feel

VBN:that you made them feel

JE: Yes.And as an educator, and now you as an artist showing your work, you’re sending hope to those kids that felt small, you’re sending hope to those kids that sell to others. You know, what could you you know, I’m at the bookstore. I like yes, I would all the titles. Yep. And I was telling every cashier, I’m interviewing her on my podcast, like I said, Yes. You know, I want to share your work, because even back in the day when you illustrated that one love my mom. 

VBN:Yeah

JE: I had my first grade class, you know? 

VBN:Wow, wow

JE: No, you’re my fan girl moment. I’m like, Oh my gosh, but even thing. I’m just so honored and your work is just bright, and vibrant. And it’s so happy. It’s sharing, and even your solemn pictures that you have on your website. They make you think they make you get rooted down, you know, to understand your not the breadth and depth of your work. But even to switch gears on you’re just like me your book of poems. I just love how self affirming it is. And I feel like you were writing this to your younger Vanessa. Yeah. I mean, I’m just gonna quote one quick sentence from all I mean, there’s so many I love me mas wisdom it reminded me of my favorite that one and yes, oh my gosh, and yes, I am a canvas and just I even I have two you know, biracial boys and 14 and 11 and even reading it out to them you know, it’s just like yeah, there’s gonna be days where you’re not feeling it. You’re feeling you know, bluesy kind of way just to show you that yeah, it will get better you know and you have to be painted of your words is just beautiful. Warrior I mean went up in those moments I’m just like, I’m willing for a good fight to speak up and stand up for myself yeah, yeah good fight when love and oh, it’s just in Italia. I am like freaking out in a good way. Because how you have this this not just for girls only. I mean, you have a written in the girl’s voice. But all students can you know, take it every student can take away from it. Yes, every suit he can take away from it. Feelings are so many poems that teachers can write about analyze, and come up with you know, ideas of their own, you know, feelings after they’ve read it. That comfort of having your grandmother’s face to face conversations. over texting I’m Lea. And among those are the things that we need that human connection. And it brings me back to those moments with my grandma sitting on her lap and having her Sandy’s cookies, I can not go past the grocery store having Sandy’s cookies, you know, and I just love it and your paper, your paper chains is  just beautiful. Yeah, everybody needs to have that just like we’re holding each other pulling each other up. And I quote, and it’s a powerful link that we are together. It just culminates who we are as human beings, you know?

VBN: Absolutely, absolutely 

JE: I can’t get enough of your book. So please keep sharing more. Is there anything else that you would want educators to know, with your books, or anything that is in that multicultural literacy space that you would want them to know, like, strategy that they can do tomorrow?if 

VBN:Absolutely, you know, it’s important that we talk to each other? No, I’m not talking about Texan. I’m talking about really, you know, now that COVID is somewhat controlled to a degree conversation is necessary. It’s necessary for parents to really you know, I know you got in from work and you’re tired, and you don’t want to go to that school meeting or that PTA meeting. But this is where we get to talk to each other. And you get to hear the teacher, and the teacher gets to hear you. And hopefully we’re listening, where we’re not just talking at each other. But we really come in with an open heart to listen, because at the end of the day, it’s about the child. It’s about the child. We teach racism. We teach it, we teach it extensively. You know, when I hear parents say, well know where that came from. I’m walking through the supermarket. And this little boy says the N word. Mommy is that and she kind of looks at him like she Shut your mouth. You know, you don’t say things like that in public. You know and and she was in, I don’t know where he got that from none of that no wigs we got and get it from the teacher. He got it from yourself. For 25 years job as a professional phlebotomist, that’s the person who takes blood. And my specialty were children, women with cancer, people with AIDS, everything, nobody wants to be bothered. Okay, when you’re holding a premature baby in your hand, and I have tiny hands, and a baby can fit in my hands. And I’ve been when I tell you, I took care of children of every ethnicity that has walked this planet. I have, I’m taking care. Okay. The one thing that I’ve learned that’s what I want to leave with your listeners is, babies want three things, children, one of the things. Is there a clean diaper when I mess this one up? Right, or is there a bottle or breasted here with some milk in it? Are your arms in your heart strong enough to hold? Well, that’s all this other stuff? Oh, you think about slavery? Why babies were put on the black brush. But were treated like animals. Basically, the women were treated like animals. I’m doing what you should do for your own. 

JE: Yeah.

VBN: We need to break this thing of racism, and send it back to the pit of hell from once again, begin to see people as people get to know my character. Let them know who I am, before you just start jumping off with oh, they’re black. Oh, they’re white or Asian, Latino or Hispanic. So they had nothing. Oh, get to know me first. 

JE: Get to know me first. 

VBN:So the message that I want to leave them first of all is to all your educators. I appreciate every last one of you. You work so hard to put lessons together. And there are times you can’t teach your lesson. Because you got a parent. Student It takes away from you even tried to teach. But I want you all to know we appreciate there are a bunch of us that know the hard work that you all put in the late night the whole thing just wanting to see children succeed. I love you all. I thank you all I pray for you all that God would continue to cover you. When can you give me more money because you deserve it? Or that? Anywhere in where you want to go? You shouldn’t have to pay a dime.

JE: I know our educator friends are like Thank you. We feel seen because yeah, you can have the best boss, beautifully written lesson plan but something always happened. Okay, that away pivot, how do I keep it going? How do I still get my work in that my students need to achieve before they move on to the next grade. And I can tell you, they tip my hat. It’s a profession that is honored by the educators who do it every day. We just hoping that honor will be reciprocated by more people that have reciprocated it. We feel it. We love it. And we appreciate y’all because y’all keep us going in those trenches especially lovely. So I love my love. Yeah.Oh my goodness, this has been an amazing talk. Where can my listeners get your books? 

VBN:Absolutely. You can get my books at most indie bookstores. You can find it at Amazon and on Barnes and Nobles websites as well. You can always go to Penguin Books and find my books there. But I would love it if you would follow me over at Instagram at Vanessa Brantley newton.com. You can find me on Facebook at Vanessa Newton. And Vanessa Brantley Newton, I have actually two pages. And that’s about it for social media. But I also have a website of Vanessa Brantley newton.com, 

JE: I will put all of that information in our show notes too, as well. Oh, Vanessa, it’s such a blessing to get to know you and laugh with you and just cry with you and tear up with you with your most beautiful, heartwarming, inspiring stories. And you’re one of those students that you know, really did defeat and beat the odds of having someone say who you are, but you define it in your way. 

JE:Even when I went to Barnes and Noble in Duluth, Minnesota, your books are on those selves got going on last night. 

JE: I cannot thank you enough

VBN: Oh,  dear Thank you. Thank you.

JE: I’m honored to just share this chat with you today. So that’s all we have today, folks. And yes, I’ll see you next week. Bye bye. 

Hair Love Book Review

I’m so excited that you are here with us today. And I’m going to share a poignant heart tugging gives you all the feels picture book titled hair love, written by Matthew A. Cherry and illustrated by Vashti Harrison. The reason for picking this book is that the main character Zuri, Swahili, is beautiful, and she is getting ready for her day. And she has a lot on her mind, but it just talks about how she revels in her natural hair in her coils. And in the story, she loves having her hair and different styles.

For example, She loves her funky braids and beads and feels like a princess. She says her daddy tells her she’s beautiful, which makes her feel so good. It’s so reaffirming. And it shows how even her hairstyle is more sir into a different persona. For example, she feels like a superhero when her hair’s in two puffs to Afro pub. And some days, she hangs out to have magical moments on Sundays when she gets up for her daily routine. She’s going to figure out how I am going to do my hair. And she’s looking online for tutorials and things like that. But her Daddy needs to help. And the beautiful thing about this book is that she wants her hair to look good to make her feel good about herself. And this dad has no idea. Bless his heart. And he’s trying his hardest.

And he’s trying to see what kinds of ways I can help my daughter Zuri. And Zuri is just like, Whew, okay, let’s see how this will go down. Dad’s trying, you know, and it reminds me of the one time I could remember my core memory. When my Father, the late Emmett Metzger, tried to do my hair. And I remember he had all my hair slides and ties, pulling and pushing. And I ended up with one braid. Off the top of my head just stuck straight up to the sky. But he tried, and it reminds me of Zuri’s dad of him trying as hard to get his daughter’s hair done to enjoy and make her feel so good on the inside and outside.

And we even did his homework. And that’s what I think is neat because I didn’t want to give away too much when mom was away at a time. It was nice to see that Dad took the time to cultivate in making sure that Zuri’s hair was protected and still regal at the same time. And why I picked this book for your audience is so many of us in the BIPOC community with our natural hair, we need to have you all understand that it takes a lot of time. Our hair is very delicate. It’s easily breakable, and we use ways to protect our hair.

So it can grow and thrive in some things where people might be asking, wow, Jeb, you had braids in your hair one day. And now you have it in twists, or now you have it in puffs, or you have it out natural as a little mini Afro a TWA. And there are some things that we love to change it up. We love to change our hairstyles. But we also know that it takes a lot of care and patience with our hair. And I think educators can use this book to show all of our kids the different styles in the BIPOC community with our hair and our natural hair care. But it also shows the importance of how we value our hair.

There’s an old African American saying that says our hair is our crowning glory. And my touch on that is in a crown should be seen and not touched. So when you are an elementary school educator, and you are reading this book to your students, please reiterate to your students, especially your African American students in your classroom, that it does not permit anybody to touch their hair. Their hair is their crowning glory. I can’t tell you how many times I was a student, people would want to touch my hair and put sand in my hair. or felt like I was on display. And even as an adult, even as a teacher, some colleagues would come up to me and ask to touch my hair.

I felt very tokenized when I had colleagues coming up and wanting to touch my hair. So having books like hair love opens up that conversation of the respect of natural black hair and opens the door for all kids to see the different hairstyles and the pride that comes with it. So I highly recommend this book, Hair Love by Matthew Cherry, illustrated by Vashti Harrison. They also have an animated short that goes along with it. And what I love about this animated short, it doesn’t have much dialogue.

Still, you can see in their nonverbal cues and communication how the Father loves his daughter and his determination to get the hairstyles just right, just like the mom did. And so, I highly recommend reading the book first and then showing the animated short; you’ll love both of them. So highly recommend this book. Please share this blog post with people that love their natural hair, and share it with a friend who might be curious about natural hair and the different styles that go with it. Thank you so much.

Juneteenth for Mazie Book Review

Welcome back to my blog. This book is excellent for students to understand the historical significance of the holiday of Juneteenth. And the title of this book is called Juneteenth for Mazie, and it’s written and illustrated by Floyd Cooper. I picked this book because Floyd Cooper is a fantastic artist. In his words about this little girl staying up late getting ready for the big celebration of Juneteenth and how her father sits her down and talks about her great grandparents that were slaves. And I quote, great, great grandpa, and great, great grandma, mosey and how they crossed into liberty, a lot of formerly enslaved people when it was around this time, right after the Civil War. 

 

This was this vast celebration of liberation when we were all freed two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, and that’s how it became on June 19, hence Juneteenth. And so the story talks about her ancestors, showing pictures and depictions of them in the fields, looking up at the North Star, and trying to envision a life of freedom and solitude. And it just gave them that freedom of bondage and liberation and peace. What I love about this is this story, it goes back to that fateful day in Galveston, Texas, when that announcement was made, and it shows how African Americans weren’t even. They weren’t even recognized as Americans at this time and were shouting and jubilation in celebrating, and they knew they had a long road ahead. What I wanted you to share with your students when you are reading this book is to talk about how the misconception that once the slaves were free, everything was all right. Everything was perfect. Everybody was equal. 

 

The story opens up this discussion that it took years, and many things aren’t equal even today. And so I would be grateful if you could read this book. It talks about how from that emancipation time, after Juneteenth, how people still African Americans voted, lobbied the cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge Bloody Sunday events, you know, it has a beautiful timeline depiction of why Juneteenth should be celebrated and why it should be remembered, and showing the descendants of those formerly enslaved people and how they forgave how they moved forward, and how they excelled and achieved. They became heroes and quote, so it’s just a beautiful book. It talks about celebrations with Strawberry Pop. I will challenge educators to examine the historical significance of why African Americans drink Strawberry Pop and have red velvet cake on Juneteenth. That’s a bonus question for you. And that’s something that you all can look up.

Trust me, there are some delicious recipes for red velvet cake, but there’s a historical significance to that. 

 

There are so many books about Juneteenth and many great picture books out there, and I will have my favorite list of Juneteenth books and antiracist books that you can start getting into your libraries. And I found through my work alongside the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce; they also partnered with a local independent bookstore. And I will also put in the link below—their list of curated books in honor of Juneteenth. So, my challenge for you is to find out after you read the book Juneteenth for Maisie about the historical significance of Strawberry Pop, as we say in the Midwest, pop or soda if you’re not from Minnesota—the historical importance of red velvet cake that’s my challenge for you. So happy Juneteenth, take the time to go out. There are lots of events this weekend coming up.

I know in Duluth, Minnesota, where I live, we have two events. Everybody is welcome to attend in honor of Juneteenth by our local African American chapters and affinity groups. You don’t have to be a bipod person to rebel and celebrate liberation for all people. And I also wanted to share with you that we have lots in store with Jebeh cultural consulting. I have a digital course on my website if you would love to learn more self-paced work in your cultural competency game and understand people in my lived experience, how we navigate, and how we can be better authentic colleagues and neighbors with our BIPOC friends. Be sure to share this blog post with anybody you think is interested in diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as friends interested in more culturally diverse literature for their students and their children. 



The Kindest Red Book Review

  

 My name is Jebeh Edmunds, and welcome to my blog if you’re new here. I’m an educator and love sharing my insights on Multicultural Education. 

Speaking of sharing, got to love that segue. I am so excited. I have created. A self-paced, self-guided digital course title. How to be a culturally competent leader. You’ll have four weeks of self-paced work, quick, 15-minute videos, and a couple bonus podcast episodes. 

And a digital guidebook and a certificate that shows all your hard work. This is something that I created and that will help you in your busy life. Understand our diverse society. What to say, what not to say, what to read up on, and with this guidebook, you get to journal and self-reflect with the prompts I have for you. So there’s more information in the show notes below. 

Be sure to check it out here: 

https://jebeh-edmunds.mykajabi.com/offers/LMwntaji/checkout

    

It is so important that we read authors from diverse backgrounds to better understand their cultures. Their traditions and understanding them as human beings, especially in our daily lives. So I wanted to share with you another great title. The Kindest Red was written by Ibtihaj Muhammed and S K Ali. 

Art by Hatem Ali and Ibtihaj Taj wrote a book that I showcased last year. Titled The Proudest Blue, and this is her second, don’t quote a second story from this dynamic team; it follows these sister characters and their journey.

 Now the premise of this story, I don’t want to give away too much. But it talks about these two sisters, again, Faizah and Asiya. And they’re getting ready for picture day. Of these two sisters, Faizah has a hijab on, and, Asiyah doesn’t have one yet. But she is rocking her red dress. And what I love about this story is that it talks about how our educators write about what they would love for our students with these open. 

Questions of what would you like to see the world? As educators, we are eager to write down all our students’ responses and try to get as many answers as possible on our boards. So what I love about this book, it parallels that excitement; it parallels children in their minds of what they view the world as should be. 

And how they would feel in that world. I really want you to talk about this book with your students. It has excellent references to representation. Ms. Ramirez is the educator. So you have a teacher of color and a very diverse classroom. And you see the similar games that you probably grew up in elementary school playing tag. 

And solving problems and talking things through. The tradition of picture day and the excitement behind picture day in elementary school, especially. Um, yeah, my youngest son wore his Phy Ed uniform for picture day. So yeah, I wasn’t pleased about that. 

But this talks about the excitement of picture day. And the choice of color and being oneself. How. The color red makes you feel and how you would like the world to portray you. And. What I love about these two sisters and their bond. Faizah has always looked out for her little sister. But it also showcases how everyone else looks out for each other. And that is the goal of an educator in their classroom community.  

 I just remember being that. Little black girl in my elementary school and getting excited about a new dress. My mom got me and my hair done. Just that pride of me in this particular grade every single year. 

And, you know, smiling big and also that boost of confidence. 

 Everybody helping you feel like your best self is an excellent illustration of how this little girl’s world wants to be like an Asiyah. 

 If a person only knows. People of a particular cultural group, especially the Islamic community. , need to continue to educate themselves more. The negative biases are kept at bay on these diverse characters and their attributes. Everyone can relate to picture day when we’re looking at these stories. Especially at school, everyone can relate to playing at recess. Everyone can relate to solving problems together and writing what our view is. 

Points of what we see and writing our hopes for the future of what we would like to see our world. I remember when I taught, we had an extensive list of our hopes and dreams our personal. And community goals in the classroom. So these are just some excellent examples of The Kindest Red. I highly recommend it. 

This book is perfect for Kindergarten to Third grade, and I even enjoyed The Proudest Blue. I highly recommend both titles if you want to have both in your classroom library or even in your home library collection. They both have a charming message. And also showcases and validates the Muslim American experience. 

That’s all that I have for you today. Just a quick, short episode. Have a really great book. The Kindest Red, written by Ibtihaj Muhammed. And S K Ali illustrated by Hatem. Ali, check it out. 

Cultures of Belonging Book Review

Another great book for your professional development is titled Cultures of Belonging: Building Inclusive Organizations That Last by Alida Miranda-Wolff

When we are talking about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. Belonging is the next step of sustainability. In your DEI work, Alida just really crafts this in a way where she talks and walks you through what belonging actually looks like? She even goes further into who the stakeholders in your organization are and how you can get from point “A

To point B”. No pun intended. When I’m talking about being and belonging. So one of my most important things is when you’re talking about inclusion, you really have to get to that foundational piece of what it means to include and trust me, people that look like me and other BIPOC
folks, we can see the BS from a mile away.

So make sure you have the best intentions authentically, and Ali’s book will help you walk through that. When we’re talking about cross-cultural connections and building them stronger, she talks about. To make your own onboarding team. As you can see, I’ve got things dog-eared, and I’ve referenced her work because it is so well done in my own research, and she also talks about people who could resist this movement in your organization.

Remember, there’s gonna be a lot of push. When you have some folks, but if you talk about them and the buy-in and why it’s important to have everybody feel culturally and psychologically safe, they’ll get on board. And this book is a tool to get you there. As I said, it really does showcase the leader’s work in how you.

Definitely work with her research findings with her ethos work, as well as think about the policies you already have in place and how to audit it to make them more inclusive, so people feel like they belong in your workplace. She does definitely walk the walk in this book. Be sure to order her book wherever books are sold.

I found this online. As I said, it was even printed in 2021. So this is the most cutting-edge research-based book you can find to help sustain your thriving organization. Remember that I’ll send you a new find in this multicultural educational space every week. That’s all that I have for you today. Have a great one

Bella the Scientist Goes to Outer Space Book Review

I cannot wait to share my passion for another fantastic multicultural educational read, and today I can’t wait to share with you all. It is titled Bella, the Scientist goes to Outer Space. It’s written by Silvana and Isabella Spence, her daughter, and it’s illustrated by Darwin Marfil.

I love this book because it talks about two sisters, Bella and Vicky, and Bella and Vicky have this love and passion for all things science. And the cool thing about it is that these two sisters go on an adventure, and they’re trying to find different roles for other scientists out there.

I love the illustrations and how it shows these beautiful African American girls and their natural hair. And it also talks about looking over a list of various sciences you could become. Savannah and Isabella do an excellent job in these girls venturing into outer space. I’m not gonna give away too much because I want you to get this book, and it even talks about the planets in actual scientific facts.

So your students can also get involved in taking notes and, Oh, a teacher’s dream. Of course, cause you know, US educators love extra resources at the end of this book. She even has a rocket vinegar experiment. So you and your grownup at home, educators, can do this in the science lab at school to take this book to another level. Another cool thing is that she even talks about the scientific method in the book, as well as using the scientific method alongside your rocket vinegar experiment.

Love it. Love it, love it, love it. Keeping that going and having those fun facts about the solar system are also included at the end of this book. So I can’t wait to share more. Silvana is a fantastic educator that I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing on my podcast. She and her do extraordinary adventures throughout Florida in that love and passion for science and experience.

Ms. Silvana Spence. Another favorite educator of mine, I will have in my notes and description below all things you can do to purchase this book wherever books are sold, as well as follow this excellent educator’s journey in her classroom on Instagram. You can follow Sil’s journey below and order her book here: https://silsteps4success.com/

Just Like Me Book Review

Another great Vanessa Brantley Newton book is called Just Like Me, and this title is really a book of her poems, and it is very self-affirming with students. She really captures self-confidence. She’s got titles like I Am a Canvas. The day I decided to become sunshineWarrior. That’s a really good one.

 Altogether, girls talk about being proud of their bodies and even pimples that come into the mix. She has a poem titled  City and Country Dreams, and the duplicity about it talks about young girls having friendships, bonds, dreams, and ambitions.

Being ourselves in the poem Weird that’s one of my favorite ones. There are so many great poems here. She really does capture things down to detail. You can even see newspaper print on the bottom of the drums. She’s got down to the stitching, ah, Meemaw’s MA’s wisdom.

Also, another favorite poem is titled Memawh’s Wisdom, thinking about your own elder and having those face-to-face conversations and the bond you have. Everybody’s Memaw is unique and kind, and it just brings back fond memories, talks about feelings, and is one of my favorite ones. Like I tell you, I have them all.

 But even sharing the poems,  Hair and My Crown. It’s just beautifully done. And what I love, this last one, that culminates everyone together, is called paper chains and how it talks about everybody uniting together. We can only do it once everyone joins, once we are all invited.

Won’t you be a link in our paper chain for the change end quote? Beautifully done. Vanessa. And remember to share and subscribe so I can share more books like these with you.

Get this book, Just Like Me, by Vanessa Brantley Newton. Wherever books are sold. There is a lot of great content that you and your students can analyze in your poetry units. So be sure to check it out. You know you’re gonna love it.

Becoming Vanessa Book Review

Hello there! I’m a happy educator today, and I cannot wait to share with you all again another great book review, and it is titled Becoming Vanessa. It was written and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton. I had the pleasure of interviewing Vanessa a few weeks ago, and definitely check out her podcast episode with me on The Cultural Curriculum Chat.

I will have that link down below. Now to get started with this book. It is a coming-of-age book on the first day of school. Everybody has those jitters, especially the teachers, but we don’t wanna spill that kind of tea. Okay? So becoming Vanessa is her self-titled character, and she talks about getting ready for the first.

School, her mommy and daddy ask her, what are you gonna wear that special today? And as you can see, I got my little particular leper print cardigan on because we all have to enjoy our inner childlike energy. And what I love about Vanessa’s attention to detail. She’s got it down to the hair textures of her parents.

Even how things just come to life. Even the fashion, the feather boa that little Vanessa does. What I also enjoy in this book, it even has a mommy and a hair tie. Okay. It shows all walks of life that Vanessa brings to the pages. She even talks about her name and how long it takes to write it when everybody else is done with the day.

And you know, as a teacher, we all have those students that have those beautiful, unique, long names that take a while, but she talks about how she gets into her name. Feels in the beginning that her name isn’t that special, but her mom walks her through and tells her the true meaning of her name. You will just choke up with joy and see how this beautiful little girl takes that pride in herself.

And she sits a little taller, like I say, and talks about how her beautiful name has meaning and how she portrays herself and honors who she is just beautiful. So definitely check out this book. It’s one of my favorites. And just how colorful, bright, and childlike Vanessa has this in her book.

It’s very well done. As you can say, Vanessa is a beautiful person inside and out. And you are going to enjoy this book. I highly recommend this book, kindergarten to about third grade, for the beginning of the school year, but, Check it out now. In honor of Black History Month, she is one of the most well-known illustrators in our children’s books universe.

So definitely get this book Becoming Vanessa wherever books are sold. You can learn more about this fantastic author here: https://www.vanessabrantleynewton.com/

Barack Book Review

In honor of President’s Day, I’m going to share a great book about our first African-American President, Barack Obama.

This book, titled Barack, is a beautiful biography for students written by Jonah Winter. Illustrated by AG Ford. This story is beautiful and impactful, and it talks about our first African American president. Um, it talks about how Barack went on his own unique journey. Self-identity and belonging.

We’ve been talking a lot about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, and this really does share and showcase what it means to belong. AG Ford has some beautiful illustrations about Young Barack as a baby, where he was born and grew up in Indonesia, and it parallels Barack Obama’s. He wrote a memoir called Dreams of My Father, but that’s for more grownups now.

Also talks about reuniting with his father at the age of 10 and belonging to that self-identity that many children of color have to go through. It talks about where he found himself in the community and his campaign to become the first African American president, the 44th president. So I would love for you to get this book in honor of Black History Month and to showcase another true trailblazer as our first African American president, Barack Obama.

If you’d like to learn and order more lesson plans that are culturally appropriate for your classroom, be sure to stop by my website, jebehedmunds.com/shop. You can find many multicultural activities that are companions to many lessons I’ve learned.

 

 

The ABCs of Black History Book Review

Today I’m gonna chat more about this book, The ABCs of Black History, written by Rio Cortez and illustrated by Lauren Semmer. This is a wonderfully made book inspired by the late great James Baldwin.

You can see. “History is not the past. It is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history.”- James Baldwin. I just love this. Whenever we talk about black history, it’s more than just the month.

Throughout the year, we must learn about all our country’s innovators, explorers, organizers, artists, engineers, scientists, and diplomatic people. I always did that in my classroom, and I know you can do it for educators. It starts with A is for Anthem, lifting our voice strong, and it does ring true to the black national anthem.

It continues and the illustrations that Lauren has created. It reminds me a lot of Faith Ringold. I loved her book Tar Beach and Dinner at Aunt Connie’s house, which I believe was the one. Also, another black history book, one of my favorites from back in the day. Rio also talks about the diaspora, what that means, um, and it continues through.

F is for folklore, and H is for Harlem. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it. My husband and I went to Harlem on our honeymoon, eh, another H word. It’s a beautiful neighborhood. It even talks about J’ouvert and Juneteenth, how the people organized and marched and stood up for themselves, and the different queens throughout Africa and our American history.

Just wonderfully done. Ooh, this is such a well-done book. Talks about, like I said, our scientists, our astronomers, our writers. It’s a good launching pad. For your research studies, every year when I taught, we did African American biographies throughout the year with my students, and I would have a list of African American contributors from the past president in the future, and my students got to pick, and this is a great launching pad to start that project as.

And then it ends with Z for Zenith, the highest peak always reminded me of Dr. King’s speech. I’ve Been to the Mountaintop. Another beautiful one is that we’ve got much more to do, grow, and thrive. Love this. It even has a glossary people of the terms and the. And figures from this book. Very well done.

I am so proud of this book, and I recommend you get it as soon as possible to kick off your learning for Black History month and beyond.

Nicole and the Fifth Grade Desk Book Review

I’m here to share another great book for your classroom and homelife: Nicole and the Fifth Grade Desk by Tiffaney Whyte, Illustrated by Christina Rudenko. 

First of all this book is really well written it talks about a little girl named Nicole who is all ready for the first day of 5th grade but still a little nervous to start a new grade. She meets her teacher who greets her with a smile and on her face Nicole feels like she could be ready but she’s just so nervous to get started.The book is perfect because it talks with a talking desk and the desk guides Nicole into what to expect in this new grade in 5th grade. It talks about lots of affirmations that are true to her as a 5th grader how she is, I quote, “special unique and beautiful” and how she will accomplish great things in life.

 What I love about this book is the desk even gives her insights of what to expect in fifth grade as far as figurative language. Which is one of our 5th grade standards for understanding what similes and metaphors would be like and helping her know even the events that she’s going to be going through, dressing for Success day and school fundraisers and fun, engaging activities that she’s going to be learning alongside her classmates. 

 Jitters and. I remember talking to Miss Tiffaney Whyte on my podcast. Go back and check it out, season 2, episode 21 and listen to my conversation with Tiffaney. 

You can listen to the episode right on the link below.

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1495555/11874324 

  Let’s face it, everybody has jitters no matter what grade level you’re going through, and I love how Tiffaney writes in this book that it’s a celebration of starting a new grade. You can begin this book with a new student that comes into your classroom because that new student is going into a class that already has their routines and norms set up significantly in the middle of the school year. Educators, I’ve had students come in the last week of school, and it’s always very intimidating to be the new kid on the Block, but this is a great tool to start that conversation of what to expect in fifth grade. You could read it and any grade-level to open up that conversation. I recommend ordering the book Nicole and the fifth-grade desk, written by Tiffaney Whyte and illustrated by Christina Rudenko. You can purchase this book at the link below. 

https://www.amazon.com/Nicole-Fifth-Grade-Tiffaney-Whyte/dp/B0B8BPKFZ6

All Are Welcome Book Review

All are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman is a New York Times Bestseller. It comes with the cutest poster in the jacket I used to put up in my classroom.

 

 


I love how this book even starts inside the author. Suzanne got inspiration from her daughter’s school Kimball Elementary where I love that she wrote about where diversity and Community are not just protected but celebrated. I love how this book shows the excitement in the energy that families, students, and parents are also excited that I love about it. The ending sentence of each prose says, “All are Welcome Here,” for example, and I quote. “Pencil sharpened in their case. Bells are ringing. Let’s make haste.”

It’s a new family created every single year, and I feel that energy when I am with my students, so this one was fantastic to show the illustrations. They’ve got mothers in hijabs and dads wearing their religious Sikh Garb and parents of all shapes and combinations; it’s just such a joyful book. It talks about how far everyone comes, how everybody starts their day no matter how you start your day, and I quote, “What you wear when you play” it just shows that inclusivity is at the forefront of where our society is going. I love how the illustrator Suzanne’s imagery.


She’s got beautiful kids with human colors in their hair that are different textures and different styles. You know, children even wear yarmulkes in there. It was starting so students would see representations of themselves which is a very, very powerful talk about how people celebrate all cultures. You see dragons in the Asian Pacific culture and dancers in the gym. You see Lil darlings with backpacks on and getting excited about getting home to rest and starting the next day again. I would love that if more of us had these books in our classrooms. Children would be able to identify with students that maybe not reflect their own identity but show that other identities and cultural lenses exist. All people are welcome. Thank you so much, Suzanne and Alexandra, for creating an excellent book. This book is one of my favorite books.

I suggest sharing this book at the beginning of the school year and whenever you get a new elementary school-aged student in your classroom.

My 3Cs of Cultural Competency

Today we’re going to talk about all things Cultural Competency, what it is, and my famous 3 C’s to keep us all in check so we can better relate to our community members of color. I can’t wait to share tips on understanding my 3cs of Cultural Competency so you can get to work.

 

 

 What is Cultural Competency?

Cultural competence is the ability to comprehend, interact, and communicate with individuals regardless of their cultural background. Cultural competency includes:

  • An awareness of one’s cultural views.
  • Working at and developing positive attitudes towards cultural differences.
  • Knowing varying cultural worldviews and practices. 

 

Typically, cultural competency regarding work environments, school systems, or some other kind of organization, where such knowledge is transformed into specific policies, standards, and practices to increase the environment and create better outcomes. 

 

 

3 Mrs. E’s 3 C’s of Cultural Competency 

1) Check

2) Correct

3) Connect

 

 “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities” Stephen R. Covey.

 

 

 Check 

1. Remember the term Checking for Understanding when we’re building instruction? The same applies. We need to check our understanding of other cultures,  

2. How do you interact with other cultural groups, including immigrant groups? 

3. Have you learned from each other who their family is? If their kid plays with your kid at the baseball field?

4. Have you attended a cultural festival with which you don’t identify?

 

 

 Correct your own bias

1. We all have biases, and we know that there are systems in place in our nation that allow biases to solidify and amplify discrimination. 

2. We are all going to step into it. Have you had the feeling, oop, I shouldn’t have said that or, man, why did I ask that question?

3. Researching methods Dr. Maura Cullen “Most times, knowing what is right is the easy part; it is in the doing that tests our courage.”  

4. The last C in my method is Connect- By connecting with others who have multiple perspectives than you will help you advocate for them. There are so many hurdles for people of color and people of immigrants that hinder them from living out the American dream. Once you connect, we can speak up and say something. 

 

Your Name is a Song Book Review

This book is amazing. It is a love between a mother and her daughter on her first day of school. And I have to tell you, I can relate to this little girl because she gets picked up from school by her mother. And she is upset. Is she mad and frustrated because of how her teacher made her feel about her name? She told her mommy she choked when she said my name, and the other kids in my class chuckled. I was that little girl. And I remember the day my mom picked me up, and I had that experience. Now my mom is also an educator, and knowing her and my father, when they named me Jebeh, after the chief of our tribe, who was my great aunt Chief Jebeh. 

 

And this book also depicts the same love and confidence that this mother only pays to her daughter. She has it in a lyrical rhythm that your students can tap into the syllables of each name. And the names that the author picked are names spoken throughout the world. Some names are in Arabic. Some names are in Vietnamese, and some names are Nigerian and Ghanaian. Some names are African American. And what I love about this book is that it has a glossary at the back. Before reading this book out loud to your students, I recommend you read the love glossary and practice the names because when you’re reading the book out loud.They’re gonna sit up taller. They’re gonna feel proud. They’re gonna love that their name is actually in this book. Hey, I must admit, the day I have my name written in a book, I am going to fall over with joy. Hopefully, it’ll be a name I wrote myself because I am also a writer. But I want you educators to take this book and read it. Like I said, it will be music to your ears. It is a beautiful, well-written story. 

 

I’m going to share just a couple names in the book that you have to read because once you read it, you can feel the rhythm of The fire the stars. In this story. We have Lamika, Kwaku, Born on Wednesday, and Ghanian names. I have Ta’ Jae, and I also have Ngozi. Have a cousin named Ngozi, Ngozi girl, your name is in this book, she’s gotta love that too. Also, you’ve got names, like I said or done. And you’ve got Ha, that is Vietnamese. Another thing that I want you to see at the end of this book is she shares her name in a song. She is practicing her classmates’ names in a song and how that teacher changes her attitude towards this girl is also very powerful. The name she is in this book is about the little girl. Her name is Kora-Jalimusu. Now the meaning Kora-Jalimusu is after the harp instrument played by a female griot. A griot is a West African storyteller. 

Not everybody gets the honor to become a griot in their tribe in the western part of Africa. So for her to have that name of a harp, Kora, the harp is just beautiful. And if it wasn’t for my mother and my father giving me the name of my great aunt, I don’t think I would have felt as strong and important and validated with the identity that I do now. It takes your parents and your community around you to learn your name and understand your identity and take pride in that. And it also depicts the beauty of names that, although you’ve never heard of them or are unfamiliar with these names, names are so beautiful, and they are music to everyone’s ears. So when you’re reading a story the first time, enjoy it, learn from it. 

 

You might not have a student in this book that will go, “oh my goodness, that’s me!”  It is beautiful. And I tell you, I cannot wait to meet this author and say thank you to all the children out there. I cannot wait to personally find the author and thinker because I am one of these names in this book, feeling despair at first and discouragement. And then my mother and father brought that pride back into me because I was named for a reason.

 

 My name is also a beautiful song. It is titled Jebeh, written and performed by the African icon Miata Fahnbulleh, so look it up and listen to Jebeh. The melody of the son of Jebeh is owned by son Jebeh, which means my heart is pleased to meet you. I play the song in front of my students every year I have taught. I even played it and performed it in my community. My name is a song. Your name is a song. And we need to have our symphony of names together, united and understood; Jamilah, I hope to meet you one of these days because I am a huge fan of your work. Educators, please get this book on your bookshelves.

 

 Study the glossary for others like myself; you need to learn how to say our names correctly, like Jebeh. I can’t tell you how many times my name was mispronounced by my teachers growing up, and some of them practiced really hard. Some of them didn’t. So please don’t be those who didn’t teach and read this book to your students. I am so excited that I also have a companion lesson plan with this book. So check it out on my website to order the lesson plan and more information on where you can find Your Name is a Song written by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, Illustrated by Luisa Uribe