High-Impact Retired Teachers Project

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately ravaged Black and Brown communities with devastating effects in education. The pandemic exacerbates several pre-existing realities including the elimination of Black teachers from the lives of Black students (and all students) following Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the overrepresentation of white teachers in Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh, and the suffering of Black youth within urban schools — a finding well-documented in research literature.

In 2021, the Center for Urban Education and The Grable Foundation offered six after-school enrichment experiences for students across the Pittsburgh region led by High-Impact Black Retired Teachers. These enrichment experiences were designed around the principles of the Freedom Schools and supported the development of academic skills and knowledge as well as social emotional learning and critical consciousness development. 

Spring 2021 Course Information

Course Title: The Creative Exploration of that Caribbean Vibe Hiding In You and In Your Phone

Teacher: Mr. Robert Doswell

Description: This class will explore the culture of the Caribbean through its music.  We will learn how their music and our musical impulse can merge as we learn how to use musical language to create experiences that will last forever.  To begin our musical journey, we will look no further than that ever-present musical tool that is probably cradled in your hand right now…your cell phone.

Grade: 7th – 9th grade

Course Title: Time Traveling Pittsburgh

Teacher: Ms. Lucy Ware

Description: If you are curious and creative, you’ll want to be a part of this group. Archivists collect and preserve history. While focusing on Black culture, we will study objects, music and art for what we can learn about the time they were made. Reading and writing will be integrated in this course as we explore the history of African Americans in Pittsburgh. We will use famous poets as stimuli and models for composing poems, and you will learn how to write a great essay.  After viewing some of the work of photographer, Teenie Harris, you will explore perspective through a black and white cut-paper construction and compose your own photograph.  We will travel virtually around the world using google maps and writing about places of significance to your family or Pittsburgh.  Students will use technologies and persuasive techniques as they create a presentation to share their ideas.

Grade: 5th and 6th grade

Course Title: Enhancing Critical Thinking Through Culturally Responsive Literature and Art

Teacher: Dr. Shelia Carter-Jones 

Description: This course is designed to enhance critical thinking skills through the use of literature and art by African American authors and artists of the African Diaspora. Art will serve as a context of visual images as purveyors of views, genius, power, history and traditions which characterize the African and African American cultures. Connecting the aesthetic in art with the efferent in written texts will serve to enhance comprehension and aid in strengthening the ability to call forth and apply critical thinking skills in reading various kinds of texts and life situations.

Grade: 7th - 10th grade

Course Title: Exploring Language Arts Through Literature

Teacher: Ms. Fontana Crable

Description: Do you want your child to fall in love with reading?  Would you like your student to connect with other students and engage in discussions and activities that will help them become even stronger readers?  In this course, students will read and interpret children’s books featuring characters of color with an emphasis on reading comprehension, vocabulary, grammar, and spelling.  The course will incorporate fun lessons that will get students excited about reading while building their confidence and character!

Grade: 3rd and 4th grade

Course Title: A Bundle of Functions

Teacher: Ms. Dorothy Coates

Description: Functions are the heart of mathematics learning. The concepts of variables and functions are the building blocks of algebra. Functions allow students to describe a relationship and to predict future outcomes. For example, students can create a relation by recording and monitoring the growth of a plant over time. The goal of this class is to allow students to explore real-world problems that have true connections to the twelve basic functions. Students will meet these functions algebraically, graphically, and numerically. 

Grade: 9th – 12th grade

Course Title: Accelerating My Education as an African American Student through Reading and Creative Writing

Teacher: Ms. Jacqueline Dandridge

Description: Students will be exposed to several genres of literature that are about African Americans and have characters that look like them. Upon completion of the books/stories students will be able to: write a detailed report, make a storyboard, devise and draw a poster or mural, write letters to a character or editor of a book, create a pamphlet or brochure are just a few examples.  Auditory activities will include retelling the story, giving speeches, conducting interviews. Technological activities may include developing power point about what was read, making visual aids for a presentation, construct a card or board game about the book/story.

Grade: 3rd grade