Baton Rouge Magnet High School
East Baton Rouge Parish School System
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Writing about a black artist who so explicitly addresses racial tensions while in college helped Teacher of the Year Kristin Bumgardner to recontextualize her own American experience(s) and privilege. Her academic work forced her “to grapple with white guilt, and although it is an ongoing process with no clear resolution, I have learned to apply these concepts in my social studies classroom. It translates into frank discussions about privilege, implicit biases, and institutionalized behaviors as my classes learn about, but also learn to critically question, the curriculum.” As a public school teacher in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, that discussion is critical given Baton Rouge Magnet High School’s (BRMHS) student population with 37.7% white, 36.2% black, 19.5% Asian, and 6.2% Hispanic. Bumgardner adamantly believes that diversity in the classroom is essential to the learning process.
Bumgardner approaches her work as an educator by asking herself critical questions about the theory of resonance:
This vision for all my students is manifested through activities and projects that promote resonance. These are assignments and lessons that I hope facilitate students to talk with their friends and family about something they learned, or teach their siblings, discuss ideas with their friends, or recall when they see a viral meme, watch a YouTube video, or listen to a podcast. Every day students practice questioning techniques that tap into their innate curiosity. I want students to be filled with questions! I want to embolden them to seek out answers to those questions without me. I believe it all starts with resonance.
As a teacher I want to see all educators challenge traditional approaches to direct instruction and even the learner-centered model, but, I feel fortunate that magnet teachers can lead the push in that direction. I try to be as innovative as possible by rethinking the approach to traditional instruction.
While direct-instruction is valuable, Bumgardner says, “I want to see teaching reinvented to reward passion and curiosity and fun! Magnet teachers are in a unique position to lead that charge.”
Raise the level of performance consistent throughout school districts nationwide and creates a platform from which all magnet schools can flourish. Magnet Schools of America’s national certification process is designed to recognize the hard work of the best magnet schools in the nation and to help them as they grow.