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Educators Honored for Outstanding Contributions to Black History Education

Educators Honored for Outstanding Contributions to Black History Education

Four distinguished educators from Royal Oak Schools have been recognized by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) for their exemplary efforts in teaching Black history, as part of the nationwide celebration during Black History Month.

Throughout February, the MDE spotlighted the innovative classroom instruction of these educators on a dedicated calendar, shared widely among teaching communities through the department’s website.

Amy Murphy, spokesperson for Royal Oak Schools, underscored the district’s commitment to excellence in education, stating, “The MDE sought insights from educators… regarding their approach to teaching Black history, and Royal Oak Schools demonstrated excellence by submitting numerous insightful lesson plans.”

Maria Manolias, an English and social studies teacher at Royal Oak High School, emphasized the importance of inclusivity in curriculum design, asserting, “It’s so important for my students to see themselves reflected in the curriculum. When they don’t, they lose motivation and their sense of belonging.” Her curriculum centers on the treatment of Black males in America, fostering critical discussions on societal disparities.

Jennifer Van Every of Upton Elementary echoed the sentiment, emphasizing that Black history is intrinsic to American history and should be integrated throughout the academic year.

At Oakland Elementary School, Vikki Kasperek and Jodi Berger collaborated to infuse local Black history into their lessons, providing students with tangible connections to their community’s past. “The Hamers were the first black settlers in Royal Oak,” they noted. “Descendants of the Hamers still live in Royal Oak. This helps students make personal connections to their community, Black history, and Black excellence.”

Royal Oak Schools’ commitment to diversity and inclusion was further underscored by Ashley Philips, the district’s DEI Coordinator, who commended the educators’ contributions, stating, “Royal Oak Schools is the district with the most submissions selected to be shared with the State of Michigan.” She celebrated the impact of their work, which will resonate year-round across the state.

The recognition from the MDE not only honors the dedication of Royal Oak Schools’ educators but also reaffirms the district’s leadership in fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion in education. As Murphy concluded, “The district’s commitments to providing comprehensive and meaningful Black history education are exemplified through the selection of these exceptional lesson plans for statewide use.”



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