Teachers celebrate Black History Month

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Submitted by: Abby Lincks

Jessica Sullivan teaches Art one class about artist Horace Pippin over zoom

Abby Lincks, Staff Reporter

Black History Month is an annual celebration that takes place in February to highlight African Americans and their achievements in U.S. history. 

This month some Vandegrift teachers have chosen to incorporate information and educate students about black history in a way that relates to the subject they teach.

“I’m introducing a Black &/or African American artist each day for Black History Month,” art teacher Jessica Sullivan said. 

By doing so every class, students are learning new information like different art styles and methods while learning a little backstory behind the artists work and their life, which can make for a highly interesting combination.

“I believe Black artists are underrepresented in the art world and in the history of art education and want my students to be familiar with the amazing impact Black artists have in the Art world,” Sullivan said.

Students’ familiarity with the work and impact of African American individuals is also being expanded in science classes this month via AP Environmental Science and Earth and Space Science Alyssa Kuklinski.

“I have been making a slide for every class that shows a black scientist or environmental activist and gives a bit of background on what they do and what they are known for,” Kuklinski said. “I also try to highlight any achievements that they have received or organizations that they lead.”

With many black scientists and activists, there’s a lot of great work that needs to be spotlighted like Quentin T. James who is the founder and COO of Vestige Strategies LLC, a civic and community engagement consulting firm. Another example is Jean-Michel Basquiat, a graffiti artist and painter who sets the record for the highest selling painting by an African American artist and artwork created after 1980.

“I hope it builds a positive mindset towards black culture and honors black excellence,” Sullivan said. 

The positive mindset and educational aspect makes for an even more positive classroom environment, especially when it comes to celebrating diversity.

“I have students who seem to be interested and excited about learning about the different artists each day and I’m happy to add to my student’s knowledge,” Sullivan said.

By learning about great black scientists, activists and artists who have overcome obstacles in their life and their triumphant discoveries, students can be inspired to make the same leaps to do great things and achieve their own brand of excellence. 

“I want my students to feel inspired by these men and women who have helped make great advancements in the scientific world,” Kuklinski said.

Whether it be more teachers looking to incorporate this into their teaching, black excellence and history being more incorporated into the school curriculum, or students reaching out on their own to learn more, we can all do our part for Black History Month and all the months of the year.

“I hope this inspires my students to realize the importance of the black community and the many things that we would have not discovered or done without them,” Kuklinski said.