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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 6. Senior Year: Certified Teacher

← 106 | 107 → ·6·


One day in my office, I was briefly having a conversation with Claresha while another one of my students, Keshawn, was waiting to talk with me. After Claresha left, Keshawn closely watched Claresha leave the office and then said, “Who was THAT, Doc?” This was often the response many men had to Claresha, as she is a dynamic natural beauty. Tall and lanky, she would wear her hair in twists, and she really could pass for Erykah Badu’s baby sister. Often, she would come to class in a colorful, funky, retro outfit that was capped off with bright green Converse sneakers.

Claresha’s creative side would come out in many ways. My colleague, one day, saw her riding a long-board skateboard around campus. He exclaimed, “What Black girl does that?” but it was not surprising to any of us that it was Claresha, as she would often dance to the beat of her own drum. As an avid poet, Claresha would use amazing imagery when she talked or completed papers in class. Her spirit for teaching and her love for English were prevalent within the university classroom. A well-read individual, Claresha would often talk about finding different methods to connect reading to the ninth graders in her urban field experience class.

← 107 | 108 → Claresha was a Secondary Education, English major at Carver University. Originally from a White, middle-class neighborhood in Maryland, Claresha had intentions of being an Afrocentric-based teacher—something she lacked in her schooling experiences.

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