Tate cultivates learning opportunities for Champaign fifth graders with collaborative and culturally responsive learning.
On May 9, students, teachers, and staff at the International Prep Academy in Champaign enthusiastically gathered to surprise and congratulate fifth grade teacher and Champaign Federation of Teachers (CFT, IFT Local 1925) member Kimetrice Tate upon the announcement of her Golden Apple award. Tate was one of more than 500 teachers across the state who were nominated for this honor, and one of only 10 winners.
“Tate inspires her students through her positivity, belief that any student can learn, and her dedication to creating a classroom with a culture of learning,” states the Golden Apple award announcement. “Tate’s lessons empower her students to celebrate their cultural and linguistic heritage and have even sparked inspiration beyond the classroom, prompting some parents to pursue adult education courses in their community.”
Each award recipient receives a cash award, spring sabbatical opportunity, and they become fellows of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators, who work to prepare the next generation of teachers and address the teacher shortage in Illinois.
Tate earned this award because of her expertise in creating a collaborative environment with culturally responsive learning for her students. She has also brought new programs and resources to Champaign students through union programs.
Tate worked with her union’s Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) team members to take a deep look at the district’s learning curriculum with the goal of decolonizing it – or examining its biases, limitations, and omissions to develop a more inclusive program for fifth grade students that includes teaching and learning through an antiracist lens. The CFT LEAD team held listening sessions with teachers across the district to find out what issues they faced with current curriculum requirements and what students truly needed to support their social emotional learning and thrive in a culturally responsive environment.
Upon realizing the need for a new curriculum and resources to support it, Tate was pivotal in securing a $30,000 AFT Innovation Grant that funded learning materials to support social, emotional, and identity development for fifth grade students. In addition, the LEAD team wrote a unit of six lessons to use with the book, “Stamped (for Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You,” culminating in a field trip to Meadowbrook Park, in which students could explore identity through music, movement, art, and literacy.
“Teaching is both heart work and hard work. It is also one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever held, said Tate. “I’ve observed first-hand through our lessons that when educators use their ‘superpower’ of instructional leadership combined with love and critical consciousness, our students thrive academically and socially. I continue to receive enthusiastic feedback from teachers who report their students demonstrated high levels of student engagement, as well as critical thinking throughout their work on the project.”
Started in 2014, IFT’s LEAD program is a professional development and leadership experience that helps teams of members create a vision, set goals, and develop a plan for strengthening their union. In 2020, LEAD participants focused specifically on building more antiracist unions and workplaces. Their IFT field service director and IFT staff from our Union Professional Issues Department are supporting the three-year process with training and guidance and by providing the time and space to make sure members’ visions become a reality.
For more information on how you can use the LEAD program in your local or council, please contact your field service director.
Learn more about the book “Stamped (for Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You” by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds, including a discussion guide.