A first grade teacher from Suffolk, Virginia has found an attention grabbing way to teach her students about black history during Black History Month. She has been taking them back in time to meet celebrated black figures.
For each day of Black History Month, LaToya McGriff has dressed up like a famous African-American trailblazer and taught her students about their significant contributions to the U.S.
It began on Monday, February 3, when she dressed up as Virginia native Mary Jackson, one of the women featured in the book and film “Hidden Figures”. “She was a mathematician who worked as an aeronautical engineer whom people referred to as a human computer,” McGriff wrote on Facebook. She shared a photo of herself in 1960s attire, like Jackson would’ve worn when she worked for NASA.
Then every day it was another historical figure like; Tennis player Arthur Ashe, music icon Ella Fitzgerald, ballerina Misty Copeland, and political figure Booker T. Washington. She even threw in some Suffolk natives like school teacher Florence Bowser, Colonel Fred Cherry, who was the first and highest ranking African American officer among U.S. prisoners of war during the Vietnam War, and Mack Benn, Jr., the first African American superintendent for Suffolk Public Schools. Each day she taught her class about the individual she was dressed like.
She says the idea was borrowed in part from a teacher of hers who had done something similar years ago, “That’s what I remember, having a teacher come dressed as a storybook character. Well, I could dress up as a different figure, an African American figure past or present so they can see themselves represented,” McGriff said.
There’s still one last outfit for her to put on, one more lesson this year, but to find out who it will be we’ll have to check back with her Facebook page to find out – that’s where she has been posting about her adventures.
Inspiration can come from any where at any time and anything can have a lasting impact. You can find out more about McGriff’s idea in your Good News Story of the Day here. McGriff said bringing history alive kept her students curious and asking questions, and she’s hoping the overall project will give them the confidence to know that, like these historic figures, they can be great, too.
Story and Image from CBS News.