A first-grade teacher in Virginia is getting plenty of praise for her creative — and educational — Black History Month celebrations.
The veteran educator, who’s been teaching for 12 years now, has come to class dressed as everyone from Thurgood Marshall and Booker T. Washington to Arthur Ashe and Ella Fitzgerald.
McGriff’s Facebook posts each come with a brief description about her subject that day, plus a photo for comparison. But as far as the kids are concerned, her idea is much more a simple lesson in representation.
“It is important for the children to see that people who look like them have made contributions because it reassures them that they can, too,” McGriff told Good Morning America. “It’s hard to believe in something you don’t see.”
The teacher added that the majority of her school is Black, and she believes in giving them role models — from a wide range of backgrounds and professions.
She’s dressed as plenty of well-known activists, artists and politicians, but she’s also picked several more obscure figures, such as Florence Bowser, an early 20th-century education activist from Suffolk who is the namesake of a nearby elementary school.
McGriff’s daily costumes have been covered by several national and local news outlets, which the teacher said she found surprising. Despite the attention, her goal is focused on helping her students.
“I hope that [the students] learn, no matter the circumstances, they can make a difference in this world,” McGriff told Good Morning America. “No matter where they come from, how they look, they can make a difference.”
McGriff added, however, that she would be excited to see her lesson have a larger impact.
“I hope that [people who see the story] will implement some type of Black History Month program in their school,” McGriff said. “They don’t have to dress up like I did … but, I just want people to incorporate Black history so that other students of color can see themselves represented in history.”
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