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Interview Series

We’re introducing the work of three change makers in the education field so that you have more tools and resources to build safe and brave spaces in your schools.

Each of the 25 minute recorded interviews are designed for individual educators to watch or for teams to play and discuss. You’ll learn about their work, why it’s important, how you can learn more about each of them, and how you can dig deeper into their work.

Michelle Cottrell-Williams

Michelle Cottrell-Williams (she/her) is the 2018 Virginia Teacher of the Year and a member of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY). She considers herself a disruptor and hopes to empower others to rethink the status quo. Michelle taught high school Social Studies in Arlington, VA for 13 years and now serves as the Resource Teacher for the Gifted at Gunston Middle School. As an educator, she considers herself lucky to get to spend every day with incredible teens who are finding their voices and preparing to change the world.

Michelle has taught many different subjects and levels of students but is most passionate about teaching social justice and supporting English learners. Here, she finds the greatest opportunities to support students who sometimes struggle to feel like they belong. She was inspired by the work of Brené Brown to focus on forming relationships with students built on vulnerability, trust, and empathy.

If Michelle had to choose which animal best represents her personality, it would have to be a unicorn: part glitter, part rebel.

Additional Resources

TEDxMarin: The Masks We All Wear
Courageous Conversation

Shawn Ginwright

Shawn Ginwright, PhD is one of the nation’s leading innovators, provocateurs, and thought leaders on African American youth, youth activism, and youth development. He is Professor of Education in the Africana Studies Department and a Senior Research Associate at San Francisco State University. His research examines the ways in which youth in urban communities navigate through the constraints of poverty and struggle to create equality and justice in their schools and communities. Dr. Ginwright is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Flourish Agenda, Inc., a national nonprofit consulting firm, whose mission is to design strategies that unlock the power of healing and engage youth of color and adult allies in transforming their schools and communities.

In 2011, he was awarded the prestigious Fulbright Senior Specialist award from the State Department for his outstanding research and work with urban youth. Dr. Ginwright is the author of “Hope and Healing in Urban Education: How Activists and Teachers Are Reclaiming Matters of the Heart,” “Black Youth Rising, Activism and Radical Healing in Urban America,” “Black in School- Afrocentric Reform, Black Youth and the Promise of Hip-Hop Culture,” and co-editor of “Beyond Resistance!: Youth Resistance and Community Change: New Democratic Possibilities for Practice and Policy for America’s Youth.”

Dr. Ginwright currently serves as Chairman of the Board for the California Endowment, with oversight of a $3 billion endowment to improve the health of California’s underserved communities. He also serves on the Advisory Board for the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning at the Jonathan Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tuffs University. Dr, Ginwright lives in Oakland, CA with his lovely wife and is currently an empty-nester—both children are in college.

Additional Resources

The Future of Healing: Shifting From Trauma Informed Care to Healing Centered Engagement

Kelly Wickham Hurst

Kelly Wickham Hurst is as 23-year public and private school veteran as both a classroom teacher and an administrator as both a guidance dean and assistant principal. She spent 10 years in the classroom at the junior and senior high school levels as an English teacher. Her transition to Literacy Coach for 3 years encouraged her to return to a master’s degree in Curriculum & Instruction. She then pursued and earned a master’s degree in Educational Administration from Illinois State University. Her work has primarily been in the middle and high schools and she’s written about education and race and single parenthood as well as other social justice issues since 2005 on her blog, Mocha Momma.

In 2016 she created Being Black at School, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to moving equity conversations into action and making schools a safer place for Black students. Her organization uses data and policy analysis to help parents, teachers, and school administrators identify and address, and eliminate the biases and barriers that stifle students’ cognitive and social development using the lens of trauma-informed research.

In addition to that work, Kelly is a National Organizer and Trainer for Crossroads Antiracism Organizing and Training where she facilitates conversations and learning around anti-racism, critical cultural competency, and anti-bias education.

Kelly is a member of the Springfield Coalition on Dismantling Racism, a board member of the Family Service Center, and a works with local organizations to complete a 2 and a half day training she leads titled Understanding and Analyzing Systemic Racism.

She and her husband are the parents of 6 grown adult children and they have 2 granddaughters. She works and lives in Illinois.

Additional Resources

Seeing White podcast
Crossroads Antiracism Organizing & Training

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