…reflecting on perception, education and self-actualization by Stacey James McAdoo…

fine art - backyard girls
“Backyard Kids” acrylic painting by Leron McAdoo

Its been almost a year since I was named the Teacher of the Year for my school district…roughly five months since being named it for my state… and in approximately one hundred and twenty days I’ll step out of the classroom to assume that position. In theory, I’ve had close to 9,000 hours to think about my platform and what I would like to shine a light on, using an amplified teacher voice.

“Pick one issue,” they say.  “Think of, then share, one message — one thing you’re passionate about and focus on that. You don’t want to be all over the place.” But that’s extremely difficult for someone who lives in her head and who knows intimately the dangers of and damage caused by singular stories.

I grew up in a single parent household. The neighborhood that I affectionately remember is now often referred to as “south of 630” by outsiders and usually said so with great disdain. And although I am in no way ashamed of who I am or where I come from, when people who don’t “know know” me, introduce me — those singular story buzz words they use make me cringe.

I get it. I am the typical feel-good story that people like to share. And it usually goes a little something like this: “Stacey James McAdoo, born to parents from the projects, whose father was a high school drop-out who was murdered by the time she started grade school has been defying the odds for more than four decades. An average student in high school, who paid for college out of pocket while working full time, now serves as an inspiration to many at-risk youth. She is currently an AVID and Communication instructor in an urban district where she spends most of her day teaching low socio-economic students.”

Insert gag here.

While I am the person described in the text above, I’m so much more. I care deeply about many, many things. Life experiences, losses, and first-hand exposure to blatant racism and social injustices have never afforded me the luxury to care about just one thing. Some of my passions include addressing the inequities in education (including but not limited to school funding, zoning, access to curriculum and resources, the distribution of teacher courseloads, duties, assignments, and salary, etc.)…teacher recruitment and retention – especially as it relates to the need for more Blacks and educators of color in core, as well as, advanced placement classes and leadership positions…wrap around services for students and teachers…counselors (not cops) in school…as well as the removal of gatekeepers, policymakers, and lobbyists, who as Ice-Cube said, “either don’t know, don’t show or don’t care about what’s going on in the hood” are several of my passions.

Revisiting of high school graduation requirements, revamping course offerings and re-examining our policies and procedures for implicit biases are also things continuously at the forefront of my mind. I even passionately care about being treated like the licensed professional that I am, the sacredness and protection of my time, the elimination of punitive tasks and anything I’m required to do if  “no” is the answer to my question of “If I don’t do this, am I hurting my students?”

As a classroom teacher, I pride myself not on the statistical data and test scores of my students, but rather on the relationships built, connections made and the art of reflective practice. Before I can take a student up Bloom’s ladder or help them develop a Growth Mindset, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs must be addressed and met.

Every.Single.Thing. I do in the classroom is done with the goal of getting my students closer to their self-actualization of the greatness that was already inside them long before they ever met me. And I often use my passions and poetry as a connector to help remove barriers so that they can see themselves more clearly.

So, if a singular story must be told or only one message shared, let it be that.

* * *

Please like, share and leave a comment. If you could only share one message or a singular story about who you are and what you stand for, what would you say?

*Stacey James McAdoo, the 2019 Arkansas Teacher of the Year (affectionately referred to as 2019ATOY), is a 16 year Oral Communication instructor, AVID Coordinator and sponsor of the spoken word collective called Writeous Poets from Little Rock, Arkansas. She teaches at the historic Little Rock Central High School where she is the living embodiment of her ATOY platform of using passion and poetry to close the opportunity gap.*

10 thoughts on “Changes

  1. Sarahí Monterrey February 28, 2019 — 9:54 pm

    This!! 🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽 My favorite sentence: “Every.Single.Thing. I do in the classroom is done with the goal of getting my students closer to their self-actualization of the greatness that was already inside them long before they ever met me.”

    What a powerful statement! You are right, it is so hard to focus on only one issue but you picked an excellent one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sarahi. I started writing this on the airplane ride back from California but it didn’t finish itself until last night.


  2. You are ALL OF THOSE THINGS and that’s what makes you the rockstar that you are! Let them use that elevator speech but continue to show them you are so much more! Remember, this platform simply opens the door but there are so many opportunities for change/influence on the other side.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m grinning from ear to ear. Your bias is showing. You luv me. And I luv you, too.


  3. Victory Jackson March 1, 2019 — 3:14 pm

    Yeah, you’re pretty amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It takes one to know one! You’re pretty amazing yourself!!😘


  4. Yes! I can relate to the struggle of having to “pick one” issue. In teaching, all major issues are connected and interrelated. It becomes a challenge to talk about a singular issue of importance. However, it is not as challenging to focus on a singular goal for students. We are in the business of helping students access excellence and become their best selves. Every day, in every way. Period. The ways we do this are as numerous as the students we support, and the barriers seemingly more so. Still, the goal, our why, gives us the strength and incentive to do the work on even the most challenging of days. Thank you for this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No thank you for this: “We are in the business of helping students access excellence and become their best selves”. I will certainly conjure up these words on those most challenging of days that you referenced!


  5. Because I am not a “writer” I am some what jealous of you and your gift of written word. It’s not that I wish you could not write but that I wish I held the skill and passion you do for it. You have such insight into the written word and how to use it to speak your heart. I believe, more importantly, you inspire others to have the desire, skill and courage to speak their heart as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooooh Rosie! I’m hugging you in my head right now. Also if I’m honest the first thing that popped in my head when I read your first five words was a remixed image of President Obama addressing Congress when Rep Wilson interrupted him by shouting “you lie”…except you were Obama and I was Wilson.🤣


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