Reflections During Black History Month

by Jennifer Thornton, Instructor at Create & Learn

Jennifer is an educator, a techie and travel enthusiast. When she isn’t teaching, playing sports or traveling she teaches Scratch Ninja and Junior Robotics courses at Create & Learn. Jennifer believes “Technology will not replace great teachers but technology in the hands of a great teacher can be transformational.”  

Growing up I always wanted to be a doctor. I never wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps and become an educator. Funny how things work out. After attending medical school for a semester I realized medicine was not for me but that my true passion was teaching and 17 years later I’m still going strong.

My father shared many stories growing up about his teaching career. For the first ten years of his career, he taught at the segregated all black high school in our home town.  Then, he shared stories of teaching at the newly integrated white high school. Reflecting on black history this month, I realized while growing up, black history was all around me.

I attended an Historical Black College and University (HBCU) earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. I followed in the footsteps of my father, mother, and sisters, all graduates of HBCUs. Also, while in college, I pledged a historical African American Greek-lettered sorority, immersed in the history of the strong black women who came before me.

Walking around campus everyday was a tour of all the scholars and history that came before me. From the engineering building being named after one of the first black astronauts in NASA, who graduated from the university, to the statue of the Greensboro Four, representing the four freshmen who are known for the sit-in at Woolworth's lunch counter during the civil rights movement. These are just a few of the notable black history achievements and events around the campus.

All of these experiences molded me into the well-rounded individual I am today. They influenced me to become a better educator and mentor for today’s young students.

My entire career has been dedicated to teaching in Title I, low performing schools. It is important to reach out to all minority groups and give them opportunities that ordinarily would not be available. In the past, I was the advisor of a club for young women interested in coding and Science. They needed to see that it is okay and possible to strive for a career in the STEM fields. This is why I lead by this teaching philosophy:

As a teacher I need to truly engage my clients (students) everyday on what I am selling, which is my subject matter. I have to be charismatic, engaging and entertaining but at the same time astute, factual and influential to give my clients (students) a reason to stay interested.

Not only do I have to be all of those things, sometimes I have to be a mother, big sister, mentor or a motivator to my students. Reflecting again on Black History Month, I am truly appreciative of educators such as my father, who paved the way to make it possible for educators like me.

Up next, continue reading our Black History Month blog series, with Follow Your Dream by instructor Jennifer Uboh-Jean.

Create & Learn is on a mission to power up your child’s future with courses in AI, Robotics, Data Science, and more. Designed for children grades 2-9, classes are delivered virtually with live, expert instructors. Lessons are interactive, foster creativity, and make real life connections across industries so your child can explore the latest technologies and have fun!