Join Barbara Bray in her conversations with inspirational educators, thought leaders, and change agents to define their WHY and reflect on how they learned from their experiences and challenges. Each conversation is complemented with a post on her site that includes images, videos, links, and more that illustrate the stories of their lives. Join Barbara and her special guests as they share their personal journeys that will inspire you, touch your heart, and might even touch your heart.
Episode #128: Igniting Change through Global Conversations with Dr. Walter Greason
Dr. Walter Greason is a professor of history, chairing the department of history at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. His research has defined new areas of inquiry in history, education, urban planning, and economics. Most known for his work on the concept of Wakanda as it appeared in Marvel Studios’ film, Black Panther, Dr. Greason uses advanced technology to transform schools and communities around the world.
Your WHY: Core Value – People should be hungry for education
I am driven by a passion to ignite change.
I am an educator, a historian, an economist, and an urbanist all in one. For nearly 30 years, my unique interdisciplinary expertise and reach have connected millions of faculty, students, community leaders, and politicians to engage in global conversations about democracy, capitalism, and digital markets. These connections and conversations have sparked movements. They have initiated change. They have motivated people to take action. And I am continually encouraged by the progress we’ve made.
The Wakanda Syllabus
In 2003, Drexel University hosted a course on “Race and the Media.” This course was the first in the nation to teach students about Christopher Priest’s vision of the Marvel Comics character, Black Panther.
In 2007, this work expanded in conjunction with author and filmmaker, Reginald Hudlin, in defining the specifics of the character’s nation and culture. In 2016, following the release of the blockbuster film, Captain America: Winter Soldier, international interest in the Black Panther surged. The African American Intellectual History Society featured Walter’s column on “The Wakanda Syllabus” which brought two decades of artistic and intellectual work into a global discussion about black superheroes and science fiction.
Over the next two years, hundreds of scholars expanded this discussion in anticipation of Marvel’s Black Panther film. The global phenomenon was the definitive cinematic success of 2018, winning hundreds of major creative awards around the world. The first academic resource to explain the deep resonance of the moment was an edited collection compiled by noted scholars, Julian Chambliss and Dr. Walter Greason over the previous year. [2016: Introduction to the #WakandaSyllabus]
Researcher and Author
Dr. Walter Greason’s research focuses on the comparative, economic analysis of slavery, industrialization,
Episode #127: Amplify the Voices of All Students with Hedreich Nichols
Hedreich Nichols is an author, educator, and consultant helping educators and districts amplify the voices of all students. Hedreich’s YouTube series and podcast, SmallBites, further help campuses amplify student voices by focusing on equity in education. Between SmallBites and her work as a writer, Hedreich works to help educators create more culturally responsive classrooms and campuses. Her Cherry Lake trade titles “What is Antiracism?” and “What is the Black Lives Matter Movement?” provides teachers with materials to help students understand systemic inequities; and her upcoming Solution Tree title, Finding Your Blindspots, provides educators with guiding principles to help them create more inclusive, welcoming campuses for all students.
As a speaker at conferences like VASCD, MASCD, CUE, etc. Hedreich provides educators with inspiration and a safe space to move beyond conversations around race; giving them hands-on, research-based strategies that can be immediately implemented.
When not working, Hedreich plays Mom to @SwissChrisOnBass, godmother to her friend’s fur baby, and vegges out on Instagram puppy videos. Hedreich received her Master of Education in educational technology at Texas A&M University.
Hedreich met me and my son, Andrew, at the Deeper Learning Conference in Louisville, Kentucky in August 2021. We had a wonderful time learning and playing together. Hedreich did an amazing keynote on the first day. For this podcast, Hedreich added several stories about her life that I wanted to share with you here.
Your family growing up
I grew up in the house with my mom, grandmom, and great grandmom. Ours was a house full of laughter, music, and a lot of stories. My great-grandmom and mom especially told the stories of their youth, of coming of age in a time that seemed very different from mine. “Mommie” was born before the turn of the 20th century and the stories she told were from a time when lynchings were a regular occurrence. She herself was a landowner who operated a small store with her husband, “Boss” who had played in the Negro leagues before Black athletes could play major league sports. She also learned never to look White people in the eye and to “stay in her place” unless she wanted to see her husband lynched or her home burned to the ground. Louisiana was not a safe place for people who looked like us. The stories she told of people living in, being freed from, or escaping enslavement were told to her first hand. Those were stories I heard snatches of while pretending not to “mind grown folks’ business”.
My grandmother, a child of the great depression, managed to survive and even study nursing at Xavier University at a time when many Black people could not access K12 education, much less college.
Reflection #18: Why Teachers are Leaving Now, Helping Them Stay with Rita Wirtz
Cross-post from Teachers Packing Suitcases Filled With Dreams- Walking Out Classroom Doors. Let’s Get Real. Episode #2
We are aware there are plenty of shortages at the moment including teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria cooks, support staff. And add in a tremendous need for counselors, nurses, social workers, psychologists.
Do you see that happening? I hope so! What better use of funding than supporting our traumatized children and staff. Let’s also remember there are probably no classroom volunteers and likely a shortage of paras. That puts a huge burden on teachers.
And let’s consider administrators, the tough decisions being made by principals and superintendents. I thought I had a challenging situation, where I was, while Principal, but nothing like this. It’s also time to take a look at School Boards and their significant role in what happens. Hopefully, administrators and teachers are actively seeking out Board Members to share needs and requests. Better yet, I’d love to see educators running to be on School Boards, then we’ll really see changes in favor of what teachers know to be true. Their everyday action research is meaningful and powerful. Power and politics right now are run amok, in my opinion and I hope to see that change in the short term.
School Principals, Assistant principals. This is leadership where it really counts. How admirable watching these Captains right their ships with laser-like focus. It matters. Leadership right now, in this defining moment puts us on the cusp of a brave new educational world, future is now, really. It’s imperative that school leadership is shared, with teachers’ opinions counting. If there was ever a time for autonomy, it’s right now. I recognize teachers can’t take on one more thing, but having a voice in what happens at school is worth that effort.
And Tik Tok Trends, Unlawful and Dangerous, to Deal With.
After I finished my draft of this article, I caught a really sickening article in my newsfeed. Written by Alia Wong, in USA Today: Her headline is ‘Devious licks’ asks students to’ smack a staff member.’ “The nation’s teachers are feeling burnt out.”
“Educators across the country are already overwhelmed with the chaos that is teaching during a pandemic. As if that weren’t enough, now they’re contending with a different kind of chaos: a TikTok trend that encourages students to cause havoc on campus. This month, that havoc could reach a new level, resulting in physical violence against teachers and other school employees. And the prospect has already-demoralized educators increasingly worried about the sustainability of their profession as it stands.”
In September, its inaugural month,
Episode #126: Helping Students Feel Safe, Seen, and Stretched with Julie Schmidt Hasson
Dr. Julie Schmidt Hasson is a professor teaching graduate courses in educational leadership, a researcher, and a teacher advocate who researched the ways teachers influence students’ lives. She interviewed hundreds of people about the teachers they remember. This research became the Chalk and Chances project with what those stories mean for teachers, and the information and inspiration that educators need in her upcoming book, “Safe, See, and Stretched in the Classroom.”
Background and where you grew up
I grew up in Central Florida. My mother and grandmother were both teachers, and I loved playing school as a kid. I earned my bachelor’s degree from Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida, where I met my husband, Brian. We were married in 1990 and have two children, Connor and Cailin. I spent twenty-five years as an elementary school teacher, assistant principal, and principal. While working in school administration, I earned my doctorate degree in educational leadership from the University of South Florida. In 2015, I left my principal position to become a professor at my alma mater, Florida Southern College. In 2020, I accepted a faculty position at Appalachian State University and moved to Boone, North Carolina.
What it was like for you as a student and how your 1st-grade teacher, Mrs. Russell impacted you
I was a highly anxious kid. I struggled with dyslexia and was terrified to walk into my first-grade classroom. I just knew I wasn’t ready for first grade. Lucky for me, I ended up in Nancy Russell’s class. Because of her patience, persistence, and creativity, I learned to love reading. I know that if my teacher had shown frustration instead of patience, I would have seen myself differently as a learner. Because of Mrs. Russell, I grew to love school. So much so that I became a teacher, just like her. After fifteen years in the classroom, I became a principal. And Mrs. Russell was on the faculty of the school I led. I got to spend three years reconnecting with my first-grade teacher.
When my beloved first-grade teacher retired in 2015, I reflected on the impact she made on my life. Everything I achieved was built on the foundation Mrs. Russell laid, and I wondered if everyone had a Mrs. Russell. As a new professor, I needed to choose a research focus. I decided to investigate what teachers (like Mrs. Russell) said and did to make a lasting impact on students’ lives.
As a child, I spent many hours helping my mother prepare her classroom. She was passionate about teaching and believed it was her calling. She taught many of my friends, and so, I saw the impact she made. My daughter, Cailin, is so much like my mom. She is the perfect mix of soft and strong. Cailin is now in her third year as a third-grade teacher. I love seeing teaching through the eyes of a young teacher.
Your journey as a teacher, principal, professor
I spent fifteen years teaching in the primary grades. I loved being able to teach through thematic units and projects. I earned National Board Certification and served as a mentor. I left the classroom to become an assistant principal and principal,
Episode #125: Growing Empathy So We Connect More Deeply with Joshua Freedman
Joshua Freedman is a specialist on emotional intelligence, an author, and the Chief Executive Officer of Six Seconds, a non-profit dedicated to emotional intelligence (EQ). He co-developed EQ assessments and published a number of books and articles on the topic, creating an international network of consultants and coaches. In our conversation, Josh shared three inspiring stories that impacted his journey.
I was born in Berkeley, California in 1967 and attended the Head-Royce School in Oakland. After a stint at the University of Toronto, I graduated from the World Arts and Culture program at UCLA and went on to work at the Nueva Learning Center in California in the early 1990s. While there, I worked with the emotional intelligence-focused “Self-Science” curriculum developed at the school. The curriculum was featured in Daniel Goleman’s 1995 book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, which helped explain why EQ is important; but we got a lot of questions about HOW people can grow and use emotional intelligence. So, in 1997, I cofounded Six Seconds to answer that question.
What is Six Seconds?
Six Seconds is the global emotional intelligence community at 6seconds.org. We’re working in over 200 countries & territories bringing a practical, measurable approach to increase value with emotional intelligence. From leadership & team development programs at places like FedEx, Qatar Airways, UN, US Navy, Microsoft, HSBC… to wellbeing programs at universities… to social-emotional learning initiatives in partnership with UNICEF World Children’s Day.
What is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
The @6s_EQ Model of Emotional Intelligence is a cycle … every spin of the wheel is a new practice. How do you develop people’s EQ? How do I start understanding, using, and growing my #EmotionalIntelligence?
3 Steps to Emotional Intelligence
What is the Free Emotional Intelligence Test
Why have global levels of EQ dropped during 2020
UNICEF World Children’s Day and 6 Seconds Partnership
In partnership with UNICEF World Children’s Day, POP-UP Festival is celebrated in 200+ countries by sharing free, playful, meaningful activities to help kids grow their emotional intelligence and take action on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There are Mini-Popup kits to get started here, or sign up to get the full curriculum: https://6sec.
Episode #124: Touch the Heart Before You Can Reach the Brain with Hal Roberts
Hal Roberts has had an amazing journey as a teacher, principal, superintendent, and educational consultant. He focuses on leadership and the relationship with wine. Yes, I said, wine. Hal is the author of Make Waves! and started Safe Harbor Academy as a school for kids with incarcerated parents.
Background, where you grew up
Born and raised in Dallas, I was the baby of three, one brother who was very intelligent, one sister. My mom would tell you I was the favorite. I was a very average student, but a strict rule follower…maybe a few classes, I was the teacher’s pet.
Above is the group picture of my family on Thanksgiving 2019. I am married to my beautiful wife, Susan, who is an AVID consultant. We have two grown daughters. My older daughter, Colleen is Vice President of Proactivate, a search firm for C-suite candidates. She has two kids, Tatum and Bryson. My younger daughter, Emily is a teacher in Brownsboro ISD. She has two sons, Drew and Kyle.
My wife and I are currently serving in the Re|Engage ministry in Lakepointe Church in Rockwall, Texas. It is a marriage ministry to enhance, improve, repair, or heal any marriage regardless of where it is on the marriage journey.
Your journey as an educator
In 1974, I played for the St. Louis Cardinals. After I was placed on waivers in the NFL, I began my teaching/coaching career. I began as 7th-grade health, history teacher, and coach.
My goal was to coach in college one day. I quickly moved to varsity football assistant, eventually obtaining an Athletic Director position/head football. In Texas, it is all about winning, and I didn’t win enough so, after 20 years of coaching and teaching a wide variety of subjects, I got my first campus administrative job as principal in a 3-5 grade campus…it was me and 33 women! I will not add anything to that.
I then served as HS principal in two districts, then moving to an Asst. Supt. and finally superintendent in a small k-8 district with approximately 350 students. The board wanted a high school so we created/built a High School. When I left/retired from the district we were K-12 with over 750 students with a new high school. That was a dream come true in building/creating a school.
Below is the video of my presentation at the National Title 1 conference in Long Beach, CA. The presentation is entitled “The Neurocardiologist Teacher/Leader” It focuses on brain-friendly teaching strategies and keeping students engaged.
Author: Make Waves!
Make Waves! is all about leadership with the foundation of service, trust, integrity, humility, and of course building relationships. I tell people it took me about three years to write, six months to type it, put it on paper, and save it on my computer. I signed a contract with EduMatch Publishing for my book Make Waves! The quote in this image is in my book and in one of my presentations talking about leadership. In short, the life of the leader is on the other side of the desk.
✨Deep conversations with education thought-leaders✨
Barbara is an amazing host guiding thought-provoking conversations in a very natural, engaging way!
This podcast connects me to others
Thank you, Barbara, for these conversations and connections. Especially in these isolated and lonely times, I’m so grateful to come to know other educators.