Students throughout the district are recognizing Black History Month through lessons that include the study of notable African Americans throughout history. It’s not only history classes that take advantage of this national month of recognition. Art teachers, music teachers, and librarians are finding creative ways to make their lessons interesting and impactful.

Music classes are learning songs such as the “Afro American Symphony" by William Grant. The study of jazz teaches students about the influence that African-Americans had on this art form.  Art classes are studying the works of famous black artists including Jean-Michel Basquiat, who gained recognition for the way in which he spilled his thoughts, environment, culture, and identity into his work. Students in Melanie Mooney’s middle school art class imitated Basquiat’s style, illustrating ways of defining themselves, as opposed to being defined by others.

Ms. Mooney said it is important to celebrate Black History Month. “We help the students to have awareness and celebrate the similarities, rather than focusing on the differences between people,” she stated, adding that “art connects all people.”

In libraries throughout the district, books are being read that recognize prominent African American figures and role models. Social Studies and ELA classes are reading books about Jesse Owens and IB classes are conducting in-depth research on topics such as the African Independence movements and the Harlem Renaissance.

At the elementary schools, classroom teachers and librarians are reading stories about the civil war and slavery. At AMP, students are reading Home Field Advantage by Justin Tuck, a black player on the Giants who, in addition to being a football player, funds an organization called RUSH that donates children's books to different urban areas. AMP Librarian Jacquie Galano said these topics overlap with other important lessons relating to character education, such as tolerance and inclusion. “Justin Tuck is a good role model,” she explained.

Black History Month is a good time to focus on these important people and groups in history, however students learn about diversity and acceptance throughout the entire year.