It seems like a trick question to try to tell my own story. My earliest memory is playing with a battery-powered triceratops with glowing red eyes with my brother Mike. The dinosaur could only walk in one direction and didn’t have a remote, and I remember us pointing it to the stairs to see if it could manage to walk down. It couldn’t, no doubt, but it was a pretty exciting endeavor nonetheless. I was one then, maybe two, and it is the only memory I have of my mother and father in the same home. My next earliest memory is when I am five or six, and by then we are living in a single-parent home. To be honest, I think that this single-parent home environment speaks most to my research interests and professional interests.
I didn’t want to become a teacher until I was 19. Prior to that time, I only wanted to be a doctor. The first profession that I was able to name somehow became the only profession I’d considered for college. It wasn’t until I began volunteering at community centers and schools in Atlanta that I thought of education as a possible career field, and it was a simple comment from a student at Booker T. Washington High School that my mental gears began to spin: “Antwan, man, you would make a good teacher.” Dallas Tilley sold me on the prospect of a career in education because he was getting what I was giving, and I believed him.
After six years in high school classrooms in Providence, Rhode Island; Norfolk Virginia; and here in Denver, I stepped away from the classroom to work in a local church as the youth pastor. I saw this as a chance to give me a bit of a reprieve from the physical and emotional costs of working with five sets of 25-30 students per day. Since stepping away from the classroom, I’ve learned that schools are important to me, and that families are important to me as well. Becoming a doctoral student at CU Denver has helped me develop perspective about the work that I can do with families and schools, especially those families that often are not seated at the tables where decisions are made for their children.
As a member of the faculty in the Urban Community Teacher Education program, I have a tremendous privilege to work with teachers preparing to enter classrooms, although I don’t see it as my work to lead my students. Instead, I see my work as inviting teachers to take an important journey toward seeing diverse schools, students and families through new lenses, contexts and experiences. I see my work as a journey with them into our own and different lived experiences. Sometimes this requires me to navigate, other times it requires me to observe, and at still other times it requires me to jump in first.
My students at University of Colorado Denver:
Keep me humble. I’ve learned, and continue to learn that there is no personal story that I can predict; and this is one of the most important things I can share with my students.
Courses I teach at CU Denver:
- Social Foundations and Cultural Diversity in Urban Education - UEDU 4/5010
- Co-developing Culturally Responsive Classroom Communities - UEDU 4/5020
- Data Decisions – Diverse Learners - SPED 5030
Spaces where I participate at CU Denver:
- Center for Culturally Responsive Urban Education (CRUE)
- Urban Community Teacher Education Collaborative Council
- Professional Development School Site Professor at Montbello High School
My research interests:
- Family-School Interaction
- Thirdspace Theory in Urban School Contexts
I am a doctoral candidate, so there isn’t much hobby to my life. I enjoy spending time with my family. I go to soccer practice with my son, Bryant, when we’re not wrestling. I read stories to my daughter, Bellamie, when I’m not laughing at her. I admire my wife, Dominique, who seems to be able to hold a lot of things together really well, so I spend a lot of time trying to make her laugh. Oh, and I like to cook, but only when it’s convenient. I spend time as a mentor to young adults, and I daydream often about ways to challenge and change power inequities in the city.
I also am a fair-weather Denver resident. In the summer, I ride bikes on trails, roads and mountains. I hike. I raft. I take a yoga class with my wife. I climb rock walls indoors. In the winter, when it gets cold, I stay inside writing academic manuscripts toward my dissertation, and I recover from that by reading novels (slower now) and catching up on projects around the house.
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