Memories, Reflections, and Lessons from 20th-Century African-American Educators
About the Book
Where you live does not define who you are or who you can be.
Those were the words of a wise woman who did not know that she was a teacher or that her words would be remembered and passed on to future generations long after she died. However, this wise woman did know that to make her belief come to fruition, education was the key.
For many African Americans who travelled life’s highway during the twentieth century, caring teachers were their guiding star, their map, their GPS, and their light through the tunnel. Teachers gave students confidence, hope, determination, knowledge, and a feeling of “yes you can.”
In this book, the author rejects the idea that anybody can teach and provides clear, distinct criteria for anyone thinking about teaching as a career. The stories she shares also serve as a thank you to all of America’s teachers.
Discover how African-American teachers have inspired students to succeed and pay it forward with the remarkable stories in Teacher Journeys.
We must have outstanding teachers in today’s schools. Expectations are key to student performance and teacher success. If teachers have realistic expectations, our kids will try to live up to them. No child wants to be a failure and no good teacher wants their students to fail.
—Daisy R. Wright, Teacher
Without knowledge and skills, opportunities cease. The burden of developing and imparting the knowledge and skills has been placed squarely upon teachers, regardless of how unfair and lopsided it seems. If anyone is thinking about becoming a teacher, he or she must understand that this profession makes the biggest imprint of any occupation in society.
—Verna Cahoon, Principal
About the Author
Dr. Rita Greer, a native of Louisville, Kentucky, is a graduate of Central High School and the University of Louisville, from which she received three degrees, including a Doctorate of Education. A professional educator for nearly fifty years, Dr. Greer divided her time between the K-12 education arena and university teaching. Initiating her career as an educator with the Louisville Public Schools in 1971, she taught middle and high school for thirteen years before matriculating to Central Office as an administrative intern with Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS). Later she served as Human Resources specialist, Data Management Coordinator, and Human Resources director. During her tenure with JCPS, Dr. Greer was either teaching; directing the recruitment or hiring of teachers for elementary and special schools; training teachers for elementary, middle, and high school positions; or developing programs to recruit and nurture teachers and administrators for employment in JCPS. After her retirement in 2004, Dr. Greer continued serving as Special Projects Consultant for the District.
Among her various accomplishments, Dr. Greer is also credited with the development and implementation of several teacher recruitment and training initiatives for supporting teacher certification and providing quality teachers for JCPS. Initiatives to her credit include the Minority Teacher Recruitment Project (MTRP), the longest continuous school district/university teacher recruitment collaborative program in existence in the country, begun in 1985. In addition, she co-designed the Alternative Certification in Elementary and Secondary Program (ACES), the only certification program in Kentucky that allowed a school district (JCPS) to certify teachers. Furthermore, Dr. Greer was instrumental in designing and developing a number of specifically focused recruitment and training programs, including the Para-Educator Teacher Training Program (PETT); the Montessori Teacher Training Program; the Exceptional Childhood Education Teacher Training Program with Bellarmine University; Career Opportunities in Special Education (COSE) with the University of Louisville; the Extended Alt-Cert Program with Indiana University Southeast and Western Kentucky University; the Stillman College Student Teacher Training Program; the Barbadian Teacher Recruitment Initiative; and the Professional Educator Teacher Training Program. Through her recruitment efforts, leadership, and program development, thousands of educators, including minority teachers and those in high-needs areas, have joined the profession. Many have subsequently migrated to various administrative and leadership positions in JCPS and throughout the Commonwealth.
In 2010, Dr. Greer joined Spalding University’s faculty as Director of the Leadership Education Doctoral Degree (EDD) Program and Advanced Graduate Education Programs. At Spalding, she shepherded the EDD Program as well as the Masters and Rank Programs for certifying counselors, teacher-leaders, and principals. She also served as co-chair for the 15,000 Degrees Initiative, a project under the Community Foundation of Louisville designed to encourage and support degree attainment within Metro Louisville’s African-American community. She officially retired in 2014, but continues her professional commitment as an education consultant and adjunct professor.
Dr. Greer currently serves on several boards, including the University of Louisville College of Education and Human Development Advisory Board. She and James, her high school sweetheart/husband of more than fifty-two years, have one daughter who is a public school educator, and two grandchildren.