Duval County teacher Rashad Reed writes about the man who influenced him and the legacy he hopes to create in and out of his classroom.
'This experience has allowed me to enter rooms and spaces that I did not even know existed.'
What being a Teacher of the Year finalist meant to one Black male educator
By Andrew Lodge
Less than 6% of teachers in Duval County are black men, so to be able to represent that small percentage in a big way such as Teacher of the Year finalist is amazing. It has been a humbling honor if I could say the least.
This experience has allowed me to enter rooms and spaces that I did not even know existed. Also, having my work in the classroom and around my school validated from others is another bonus within itself. This experience, which JPEF (Jacksonville Public Education Fund) does a great job with, is always building you up professionally, spiritually, emotionally, and socially. It is meant to honor educators, but also to help you to take that next step in your career - whether that is being part of a panel, professional development, or even attending sponsored events like the Jaguars practice.
One thing I learned along the way for sure is that I am needed, and my works are not in vain. JPEF does a great job of emphasizing and being appreciative of the works of educators. Parents might not always say it, students might not always like it, you as an educator might not even feel like you are making a difference, but JPEF, the sponsors, and this whole experience has poured into me and made me feel like a great educator with a bright future.
Nothing is done at JPEF without you as the educator in mind and is always beneficial. I am grateful for this opportunity and forever thankful to be in this position. I do not take it for granted at all and look forward to the continued partnership and support from JPEF.
Knowing what I know now, even if I was not Teacher of the Year finalist, I would for sure be actively involved in JPEF activities and events. They are so impacting and uplifting for an educator. You are embedded in a community of people that understand you and can help keep that fire for education lit, even when it feels dim.
Especially for my male educators of color. We are in the minority, and it can feel like you are on an island at your school. With groups like The Ones and Los Unos you have a family of brothers that can relate to you and pour back into you. This experience as Teacher of the Year has been eye opening and second to none. I am eternally grateful and just thankful for the opportunity to be an ambassador for education.
Duval County second grade teacher Nick Nelson writes about his experience as a teacher and what he is learning from his students.
JPEF president Rachael Tutwiler Fortune writes about education equity in the Florida Times-Union.