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We Got Next

Urban Education and the Next Generation of Black Teachers


Lynnette Mawhinney

Developing a more culturally diverse teaching force is one of the most important tasks facing the education system in the United States. Yet, in the midst of this challenge, little is known about who these teachers might be or where they might come from. We Got Next: Urban Education and the Next Generation of Black Teachers illustrates the journeys that Black pre-service teachers travel in their attempts to become educators. By looking at their educational life histories – their schooling experiences, teaching philosophies, and personal motivation – this book discovers what compels them to become teachers and the struggles and successes they encounter along the way. With texture and care, We Got Next helps professionals, policymakers, and teacher educators to understand what draws young African Americans toward the teaching profession and how to help them get there.
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Chapter 5. Junior Year: Practicing Teacher

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Shironda is a small and gorgeous woman with a personality and dynamic that gets people’s attention. I first met Shironda when she was a senior in high school through a non-profit organization on which I sat on the Board. She came to interview for a scholarship for high schoolers planning to major in education. In the interview, Shironda came with a very low GPA (2.0 range) from high school, but she explained how she “got her act together” late in her high school career, and she was determined to be an excellent teacher. Shironda promised, “I won’t let you down.”

Behind closed doors, there was a real debate if we should give Shironda this competitive scholarship, as she just did not have the grades. But I and one other person knew that there was just “something” about this woman. Shironda got the scholarship, and she actually chose to come to Carver University as a Secondary Education, English major.

Shironda did not hold back, and she kept her promise. From freshman year, she was voted in as class president and kept her seat through most of her college career. Also, she maintained a high GPA and was the president of Kappa Delta Pi—the education major’s honor society—and president of the Education Club. I left Carver University Shironda’s sophomore year, but I came back to co-teach an intensive urban course with ← 87 | 88 → a colleague, and I was fortunate to have Shironda as a student then....

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