A class conversation with a community advocate

To the Editor:

As an educator I make every attempt to continue to enrich the lives of my students on a daily basis. On October 2, 2018 Mrs. Cheryl Mack helped me in my quest when she agreed to be a guest speaker for my African American History course.

I chose Cheryl to be our first guest speaker because of her passion for art and her love for our community. Cheryl’s expertise fit perfectly with our first unit of study in which we examined the evolution of African Americans in TV and film.

From the moment Cheryl introduced herself to my students they were hanging on her every word, wanting to hear more about her life, views and experiences. After our conversation with her, several of my students came up to me after class and were so thrilled that she offered her time to work with them. The next day my students even gave me thank you letters to give to her. Jeninya Holly wrote, “I liked the topic in which you discussed the art that you’ve seen nationally and I would like to physically see it in person one day.” Sean Lopes said, “I loved hearing about the Black Comic art show and I wish I had the opportunity to see it.” Ricardo Mojica wrote, “After hearing you speak, your passion for art has inspired me to visit The Bridge Art Gallery.” Erica Sagna wrote, “… Growing up in Bayonne we rarely get female speakers who come in and talk to students, never mind an African American women. I found it really empowering hearing from a successful woman of my own color.  This is how we help engage our community and the variety of students in our classrooms: conversation.” Echoing the feelings of every student in the class Andrae Padilla wrote, “I appreciate you coming to speak with us and it also meant so much to me to know that there are so many other people in the world who share this great passion about celebrating diversity and cultures.”

Thank you very much Cheryl for taking the time to share your experiences with my students. You brightened and enlightened their day.

Teacher of U.S. I, Facing History and Ourselves and African American History