Inshirah is an educator and mother of three from lower Manhattan. After taking a break from teaching to focus on being a mom when her children were small, she returned first as a substitute and then to full time teaching when her youngest daughter went off to pre-K. Being a teacher and also a parent gave her a chance to collaborate between her job and her children’s school, with insight into both perspectives in two different school communities.
When COVID-19 closed school buildings across the city in early 2020, Inshirah began teaching preschool remotely. In June, with the protests following George Floyd’s death still ongoing, Inshirah heard about AQE‘s first Freedom Summer program from her son’s teacher. She decided to apply, and spent four weeks with AQE discussing topics including intersectionality, gender equity, disability justice and capitalism with other parents across the city. “It brought to light something inside me: as a Black woman who believes in equity and inclusion, I had always worked these things into my way of teaching and curriculum, and had always felt there needed to be a way for students to see themselves in their education. Freedom Summer helped clarify my own perspectives.”
When Freedom Summer ended, Inshirah decided to apply for AQE‘s parent leadership program, Education Warriors. She spent that fall through summer learning the ins and outs of the budget processes in New York City and state, and developing new skills and tools to use in education advocacy.
Inshirah also began actively advocating for culturally responsive education (CRE) in New York City. She connected with AQE‘s partner organization, the Coalition for Educational Justice, and was MC at a joint AQE and CEJ press conference pushing the city to adopt CRE. In July, the Department of Education announced a multi-year commitment to a city-wide culturally responsive and sustaining curriculum, and Inshirah is now at the table to help shape its implementation.
Over the past year, Inshirah has been learning and working as she goes, taking every opportunity to make the calls, send the texts, sign petitions, and put pressure on elected officials. She’s ready to continue doing what she can to ensure New York does right by our students.