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WPU Hosts Screening of ‘American Promise,’ Discussion on Education of Black Boys

On May 26, the College of Education at William Paterson University (NJ) brought together university, school, and community members for a very special event organized by Candace Burns, dean of the college, and Sharon Leathers, director of educational innovations and grant initiatives. I was privileged to participate along with my colleague Rodrick Lucero, AACTE’s vice president for member engagement and support.

The event centered on the award-winning documentary American Promise, which follows two African American boys through 13 years of schooling in a unique coming-of-age film. Around the country, internationally, and through the PBS network, this amazing film has provoked new conversations and raised difficult questions about what the promise of education means in America, particularly for children of color.

To start the evening, an audience of William Paterson University faculty, staff, and students—as well as community members, parents, and PK-12 students, teachers, and administrators—watched the documentary together. Following the screening, the audience discussed the film’s messages and implications for educators with a panel of experts, including AACTE’s Lucero and Paterson Public Schools Superintendent Donnie W. Evans. The discussion concluded with the important message that by bringing together all of our communities, we can inspire and support thoughtful approaches to educating all of our children.

William Paterson University’s College of Education is also one of 10 institutions participating in AACTE’s Networked Improvement Community (NIC), "Changing the Demographic Makeup of the Teaching Workforce." The goal of this initiative is to help institutions increase the number of Black and Hispanic men receiving initial teaching certification through education preparation programs. To learn more about AACTE’s plans for the NIC, contact Omar Davis.

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Tim Finklea

Director of Member Engagement, AACTE