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2016 Early Career Educator of Color Leadership Award Recipients

Born and raised in (West) Phoenix, Arizona, Steven Arenas is proud to call the Valley of the Sun his home. He taught for several years at his alma mater, Westview High School in Avondale, and is currently an English educator at Alhambra High School in the Phoenix Union High School District. Steven coaches football and cosponsors Raise Your Voice, an arts-based club focused on community empowerment, and the Poetry Club. He earned a BA in secondary education and a master’s degree in English education. Steven is a teacher consultant of the Central Arizona Writing Project (CAWP) and cofacilitated the CAWP Invitational Summer Institute in 2016. Currently, Steven is a participant in the National Writing Project College-Ready Writers Program.

While Steven comes from a family of educators, his passion for writing and literature was inspired by the contemporary voices of the Chicano/a Renaissance of the 1960s. Authors like Anzaldúa, Anaya, Mora, Soto, Rivera, Jimenez, and Acuna inspired Steven to pursue a field that is not dominated by people of color. Dumbfounded that texts like these are not appropriately utilized in the secondary curriculum—especially in Arizona—Steven works to incorporate an inclusive multicultural literacy curriculum. A social justice educator and an advocate for ethnic studies, Steven has created a literacy pedagogy that honors and sustains students’ home culture, language, and experiences. By incorporating a multicultural frame, Steven encourages his students to use their understanding of literacy as a means to matriculate through colleges and universities. When not teaching, Steven enjoying spending time with his wife, Lizeth, and son, Gabriel.

Patrick Harris is a proud native of Detroit and Southfield, Michigan. He is also a proud first-grade elementary teacher in Washington, DC. Patrick wanted to teach since he was in the first grade. He looked forward to the day he could read to his own class and grade his own papers. His elementary experience was filled with many key players—his teachers, administrator, and his family—who reinforced how cool it was to learn. All this helped him to become the teacher he is today. Patrick is also serious about answering the call to address the need for more Black men in the classroom.

Patrick is dedicated to making his students’ classroom experience movie-magical. He is dedicated to making sure that his students develop a passion for social justice. He is dedicated to making sure his students see themselves in the books they read and the material they study. He wants to continue learning to make astronomical academic gains through innovative methods. When he is not in the classroom, he is traveling the country facilitating deployment readiness curriculum to military youth. Patrick also is working with a social realty organization to bring academic programs to youth and adults in low-income housing. He enjoys studying traditional Korean martial arts, reading James Patterson books, and analyzing and discussing reality television shows.

Sahar Shafqat is a first-generation college graduate from Chicago, Illinois. She earned her BA in English, BS in secondary education, and Reading Teacher Endorsement from Loyola University Chicago. She is currently working on her master’s degree in Teaching, Learning, and Assessment from National Louis University.  Shafqat is an English teacher at her alma mater, Lane Technical College Preparatory High School in Chicago. She teaches Survey of Literature and American Literature courses to ninth- and tenth-grade students. She is a tutor for the English department as well as the sponsor for Cuban Club and the cosponsor for the Senior Class. In addition to those roles at her school, she is a member of the Chicago Humanities Festival Education Program and the Goodman Theatre Student Subscription Series. When not teaching or mentoring, Shafqat enjoys reading YA Literature, planning future units of study, and watching performance poetry. One day she hopes to pen her very own “coming-of-age” novel.

Raven Jones Stanbrough is an assistant professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University. Her teaching and research focus on literacy, culture, race, equity, and the educational experiences of students of color in urban contexts. Raven creates and facilitates debate education programs in an effort to promote and expand the educative and creative engagement that debate offers. She is the editor of God is Not an American: Poetry, Politics and Love (2009), authored by internationally renowned poet Jessica Care Moore, and has forthcoming works in books and journals from Teachers College Press and the Southern Education Foundation.

As a 2014 Fulbright-Hayes award recipient, Raven traveled to Tanzania to examine the cultural dimensions of urban and rural Tanzania while studying the established humanities curriculum mandates and the influences of cultural traditions, music, and storytelling. Additionally, she received the King Chavez Parks–Future Faculty Fellowship in 2015 and the 2016 “Excellence in Diversity” award from Michigan State University for her outstanding efforts with promoting diversity and inclusion inside and outside of the classroom. This year, she is also the 2016–2017 recipient of the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership Fellowship, which will allow her to engage in community and grassroots initiatives to create and sustain new ways of being, thinking, and doing. Raven resides in Detroit with her husband, Darryl Jr., and their daughter, Zuri Hudson.

Trinity Thompson is a fifth-grade English language arts ICT teacher at Harlem Village Academies, a charter school with a progressive education model. Here she serves as the cofounder of HVA network’s Cultural Competency Committee, in which she helps to facilitate workshops and trainings on power, privilege, oppression, intersectionality, cross-community solidarity building, and culturally relevant teaching. Through this committee, Trinity also spearheaded the creation and implementation of the school's first social justice elementary curriculum.
Outside of teaching, Trinity serves as the Education Programs Manager for Catalyst Network Foundation, an organization focused on college readiness and career development for students of color. A proud member of New York’s Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE) and Educators 4 Excellence, Trinity is always working to build alliances toward creating educational equity. Trinity holds bachelor’s degrees from Stanford University in English (Creative Writing) and Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity with honors. She also received a master’s degree from Stanford in sociology, where she focused her graduate work on the intersections of race, class, and education. She is currently completing her MS in general and special education from the Progressive Education Institute at Touro College.

Renee Wilmot is from Woodbridge, Virginia. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English and African and African-American Studies from the University of Virginia in May 2013. In June, Renee matriculated into the Donovan Urban Teaching Scholars Program at Boston College, where she studied secondary English education and earned a master of education in May 2014. While at Boston College, she taught students in grades 9–11 in Cambridge and Boston Public Schools. Before leaving Boston College, Renee became a graduate assistant and mentor to the succeeding Donovan cohort. In August 2014, Renee relocated to Richmond, Virginia, where she began teaching grades 9–12 English at Church Hill Academy. This is a small private high school that serves 35–40 students per year and provides small class sizes, mental health counseling, college mentoring, and special education services to its students. During the summer of 2016, Renee was a faculty member in a program called the Institute for the Recruitment of Teachers (IRT) at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. In this program, Renee mentored and taught prospective graduate students of color in preparation for graduate study. This fall, Renee is beginning her third year of teaching English at Church Hill Academy. As a teacher, Renee challenges students to think critically about themselves and the world around them, while encouraging students to persevere. Ultimately, Renee plans to return to her graduate studies to earn a PhD in English and continue developing her pedagogical practice.

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