A.J. Lewis Greenview Elementary School first-grade teacher Mukkaramah Smith recently received the Donald H. Graves Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Writing. This prestigious honor from the National Council of English Teachers (NCTE) recognizes exceptional teachers who have demonstrated how their teaching skills and methods have led to significant growth in students’ writing abilities.
Ms. Smith, who has 25 years of teaching experience, says this award is a great privilege and much more. “It validates the grit and perseverance I put forth for the success of my students every year. As a culturally responsive sustaining educator, I construct lessons grounded in empowering my students to be proud of who they are. It is imperative to be culturally relevant and honor the Black American communities and families I serve. Learning this way liberates my students from the societal norms to be unapologetically ME!”
The NCTE’s announcement of Ms. Smith’s selection described her culturally relevant teaching methods this way: “In recent years as a first-grade teacher, Mukkaramah’s classroom planning and instruction is centered around meeting students where they are as learners by implementing student-based projects that humanize Blackness and empower students through their heritage to be their authentic selves. Mukkaramah is passionate about centering Black joy in her teaching and strives for her students to love themselves, their history, culture, brilliance, and African American language.”
To learn more about the NCTE award announcement, go to https://ncte.org/awards/donald-graves-writing-award/ .