Educator Spotlight: Rebecca Blumenfeld, Spanish teacher, G.W. Carver High School

Dia de los Muertos Birmingham

Blumenfeld and students at a Dia de Los Muertos celebration.

G.W. Carver High School’s Spanish teacher, Rebecca Blumenfeld, has a pretty ambitious idea about foreign language instruction.

“When students leave my classroom,” she says, “I want them to be motivated to become lifelong learners of the Spanish language, to use their Spanish to bridge differences between people, and to help their peers and their community as a whole. I want them to have a better understanding of what it means to be a citizen of the world through experiencing different cultures.” Continue reading

Getting to know our families: Staci McCloud, Tuggle Elementary

Staci McCloud has high hopes andstaci expectations for her children.

“This is just the beginning,” she says, “And I want [my children] to understand the foundations so that they can be whomever they want to be.”

With two children, ages 4 and 6, she takes her role in laying the foundations seriously: “We read a lot. We talk a lot. I do everything I can to expose them to different ideas and experiences that will spark their imagination and make them say ‘Wow, Mommy’!” From trips to the Art Museum and McWane Science Center to spotting objects by color during the car rides to and from school, Ms. McCloud constantly keeps her children’s curiosity heightened.

“You can’t have a future without education,” Ms. McCloud says, reminiscing about the messages her parents and community consistently reinforced in her as a child. “We all went to school. It wasn’t an option to not finish high school and go to college.”

She expects the same outcomes for her two children. Her youngest aspires to be a doctor and her eldest daydreams about being a racecar driver. Whatever different career paths they may ultimately choose, Ms. McCloud believes that their education is the cornerstone on which their imaginations rest.

McCloud notes that Tuggle Elementary is a school characterized by varying strengths and areas of growth, many of which are shared by other schools in the district. “I have experienced teachers at Tuggle who really care,” she says. “They’ve welcomed me and provided the space for me to get involved.” McCloud believes it’s the role of the school to ensure that parents are connected and engaged in meaningful ways, and as an active member of the PTA, hopes for even more opportunities for parents to get together and bounce ideas off each other. “I want to see everyone working together,” she says. “Not in silos.”

You may find Staci McCloud at PTA meetings, a smile on her face, and her contagious charisma lighting up her eyes. You may find her studying at Miles College and welcoming visitors at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. But you will most certainly find her at Tuggle Elementary with her children, counting steps as they walk hand-in-hand, turning everyday occurrences into learning experiences for her children and inspiring you to do the same.

For this, Ed thanks you, Staci McCloud. You are certainly a parent we are thankful to work with.

Getting to know our families: Princess Henderson, Hudson K-8 School

phendersonPrincess Henderson, Hudson K-8 mother of three, is just like many of you—a parent of children attending a Birmingham City School. And just like all of us, she has a powerful story: one full of gifts, hopes, dreams and struggles.

Princess lives in the North Birmingham community near Hudson. Like every parent we’ve met, she has high expectations for her children. She also has the same expectations for the school she sends them to.

“Hudson’s standard’s are different,” says Henderson. “The staff members at the school hold my kids accountable for their actions.” Henderson makes an effort to stay in contact with her children’s teachers by continuously being present at the school and maintaining an open line of communication. She knows this is one thing she can do to ensure that her kids get the education they deserve—one that will lead them to be ready for the college or career of their dreams.

But Princess knows that part of the process of preparing kids for life after high school takes place at home.  When asked what she does to support her students academic success, Princess passionately replied, “I am willing to take that extra step that makes sure that they are doing their absolute best. And both of them are on the A/B honor roll—and they will stay on it.”

“Whatever [my students] need help with, I’m doing all I can to provide it.”

Princess is the Parent Connector for Ed’s Asset Mapping with Birmingham Neighborhoods and Schools program at Hudson K-8 this year. The purpose of the program is to create community-to-school partnerships based on the assets that are discovered by “Connectors”. Princess is a full-time mom, wife, and student and has committed to working with other parents to connect them to Hudson K-8.

“My hope is for the doors of Hudson to be wide-open with structured opportunities for parents, teachers, and community members to work together for our kids,” Henderson says smiling, dreaming aloud about a school and community that worked together to “teach our kids to give back to the community that gave so much to them.”

She speaks with optimism coupled with doses of realism. She understands the barriers students, families, and educators face. “It’s tough,” she says, “but we’ve all got one thing in common—these are our kids. By working together, we’ll be the village they need us to be, you know what I’m saying?”

We do know what you’re saying, Princess!

Here’s to you Mrs. Henderson—a parent Ed is more than grateful to work with.