This Black History Month, we are recognizing the accomplishments of Black Teach Plus teacher leaders―and the contributions of those who helped foster the success of today’s educators and students in the Black community.

New Mexico Policy Fellowship alumnus Derrick Adkins is a project teacher/adviser in Albuquerque. Derrick has been working with students as an educator and a coach for nearly two decades.. Derrick is a teacher mentor on his campus and is passionate about establishing positive relationships with his students and their families, including an evening school program for students who need more support in order to graduate. Learn more about Derrick

Massachusetts Senior Policy Fellow Chantei Alves is a Pre-K Inclusion teacher for Boston Public Schools. Chantei is passionate about equitable teaching and ensuring her students have a solid, culturally competent foundation to their education. Chantei recently created an affinity group for local Black educators to have a safe space to discuss their experiences and build relationships with each other. Chantei was awarded the AFT Massachusetts Distinguished Service Award in 2020. Learn more about Chantei

Tracy Edwards is a Nevada Senior Policy Fellow with more than 20 years of teaching experience. Tracy teaches fifth-grade English language arts in Las Vegas and develops ELA and science curriculum. Tracy is an advocate for her students, fellow teachers, and equitable learning. She’s written op-eds on topics ranging from the importance of states addressing student suicides to teaching students after traumatic experiences to the importance of simplifying language when communicating with parents and families. She also uses her voice on social media, having gone viral on Twitter with tweets about the importance of supporting students with mastery. She is a board member at the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Las Vegas Chapter and serves as a mentor for College of Southern Nevada (CSN)’s Nevada Promise Scholarship program. Learn more about Tracy

Colorado Policy Fellow Gene Fashaw is a sixth grade math teacher and grade level lead in Denver. Gene is in his third year of teaching and also serves as a flag football and basketball coach. He’s working with local communities to recruit and retain local teachers of color at the district level and is active in local philanthropic organizations. Learn more about Gene

Nevada Policy Fellowship alumnus Malcolm Gillard teaches gifted and talented education at the elementary level in Las Vegas. Malcolm has been teaching for nearly 20 years and has served in a variety of roles and as a leader developing professional development. He is a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion who believes that a positive and nurturing school environment is the best strategy for students to achieve success academically, emotionally, and socially. His philosophy is, “What is best for kids,” which encompasses the importance of the development of students’ character, dreams, and emotional intelligence. Learn more about Malcolm

Anika Green is an Indiana Policy Fellow who teaches English language arts in Indianapolis. Anika is working on research focused on understanding the impact of COVID-19 on teacher retention. As an educator, Anika has been a grade-level chair and has worked with her school’s teams to develop leadership strategies for students and staff. Learn more about Anika

Texas Policy Fellow Scoie Green teaches 10-12th grade professional communications at Obra D. Tompkins High School, in Katy, Texas. Scoie is a mentor teacher on her campus and is a member of the Association of Texas Professional Educators and of her school’s Black History Committee. Scoie cares deeply about empowering her students to use their voices, so they can “speak on their own behalf and on behalf of those experiencing discrimination and exclusion due to unequal power relationships across economic, political, social, and cultural dimensions.” Learn more about Scoie

Texas Policy Fellowship alumnus and 2021 Texas Teacher of the Year Eric Hale teaches first and second grade in Dallas. Eric made history this year as the first Black man in Texas to be honored as the Teacher of the Year. Coming from a volatile home environment, Eric has said he became a teacher to help students who are enduring traumatic experiences have hope for the future. His classroom is far from typical, with music and DJing playing a large role. Eric has been recognized for a variety of awards both statewide and nationally. Learn more about Eric

Colorado Policy Fellowship alumna and National Research Fellow Jamita Horton teaches kindergarten in Denver. Jamita serves as an adviser for the RELAY Fellowship and has previously served as the grade-level chair and a community service liaison. One of the issues Jamita is passionate about and has advocated strongly for is funding for full-day kindergarten for all students. In 2019, she was able to see that policy implemented. Not only is this an education issue, but it’s also one of equity and access for all students. Learn more about Jamita

Policy Fellow Edwin Johnson is a middle school special education inclusion teacher in Rosedale, Mississippi. As a Teach Plus Policy Fellow, Edwin has advocated for increased stimulus funding with Mississippi’s senators and advocated for raises in teacher salaries with his representatives. As schools prepare to receive more stimulus funding, Edwin plans to conduct focus groups with teachers in order to learn how to prioritize education spending on the state level. Edwin has taught various grades and subjects throughout his teaching career. Learn more about Edwin

California Policy Fellow Michele Lamons-Raiford teaches American Sign Language in Pinole, California. She previously taught English both at the high school and college levels. Michele became a teacher because she wanted to influence the lives of her students the same way her teachers positively influenced her. Outside of the classroom, Michele has served as the sponsor for the African American Student Union, Black History Month Celebration, and Day of Peace and Remembrance. She’s also been awarded the Carlston Family Foundation Outstanding Teachers of America Award. Learn more about Michele

Mississippi Policy Fellow Athena Lindsey teaches 6th and 7th grade math in Anguilla, Mississippi. Athena has been teaching for 18 years and is a member of the school’s leadership team and is a new teacher mentor. As a Policy Fellow, Athena has been working to develop recommendations to improve Mississippi’s teacher preparation and licensure policies. Athena is a leader on her campus and within her district, who has previously helped to advise students about their next steps after graduation. Learn more about Athena

California Policy Fellow Jason Morgan teaches high school math in Compton, California. Jason is the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) coordinator on his campus and also serves on an advisory board mentoring early career teachers. Jason is passionate about educating the whole child and student-centered learning because of his own experiences with educational inequity growing up nearby in South Central, Los Angeles. He’s previously been honored as a Carlston Family Foundation Outstanding Teacher of America and an American Graduate Champion in conjunction with PBS SoCal’s Education Revolution. Learn more about Jason

Indiana Policy Fellowship alumnus and National Advisory Board Member Andrew Pillow teaches at KIPP Indianapolis College Prep. As a Policy Fellow, Andrew focused on social justice and the school-to-prison pipeline and its effects on students. Andrew continues his education advocacy as a writer for Indy K12 blog and other outlets, writing stories about topics ranging from school choice to the efficacy of virtual learning. Andrew has recently joined the Teach Plus National Advisory Board to continue advising and advocating for students. Learn more about Andrew

Massachusetts Senior Policy Fellow Francis Pina is a 9th and 10th grade math teacher in Boston. Francis advocates for the recruitment and retention of teachers of color locally and nationally. He was a leader within Massachusetts’ teachers of color working group and created, planned, and facilitated a Teachers of Color Weekend Summit. As a teacher, Francis finds a way to both empower his students with choices about their coursework and make it relevant to their daily lives. Learn more about Francis

Cokettia Rawlerson is a Teach Plus teacher leader in Philadelphia and a special education teacher. Cokettia advocates for students with exceptionalities and centers the learning experiences of all students in her work. As a teacher leader, Cokettia quickly expanded her breadth of knowledge to understand the skills and standards of 5th grade in order to lead her team. She now helps her team identify trends in student work and turn takeaways into actionable changes in the classroom.

Keishonda Simms is an alumna of both the Illinois Policy Fellowship and the Change Agent program. A math, physical education, and health teacher for students from Pre-K to 8th grade, Keishonda is also the athletic director at her school. Keishonda was recently recognized with a Fulbright Scholarship to live and work in Brazil for a semester. Learn more about Keishonda

Pennsylvania Policy Advisory Board Member Aaron Taylor teaches 6th, 7th, and 8th grade general music and beginning band at East Middle School in Erie, Pennsylvania. Aasron directs the Singing Ambassadors and the after-school guitar club at his school. He is also part of a council focusing on the retention and recruitment of African American teachers. Aaron became a teacher because he wanted to teach students about the power and impact of music. Learn more about Aaron

Illinois Policy Fellowship alumnus Corey Winchester is a U.S. History and sociology of class, gender, and race teacher in Evanston. Corey’s passion and advocacy for anti-racism and empowering his students expands beyond his coursework. Corey has also served as the coordinator for Students Organized Against Racism (SOAR). In 2020, Corey was named Illinois History Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and in 2019, he was awarded the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching. Learn more about Corey