Member Spotlight: Paul Massy
AACTE’s new Member Spotlight features an individual from a member institution, highlighting how their work makes a difference in classrooms across the country. Nominate yourself or another member by providing a response to the following questions and sending to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get to know Paul Massy …
Current position: Graduate Teaching Assistant, Florida Atlantic University
Expected Graduate Year: 2024
Alma Mater(s): Corinth Teachers College; University of the West Indies (U.W.I.), St. Augustine
Hometown: Arima (Trinidad and Tobago); Boca Raton, Florida
- How long have you been a member of AACTE?
I am in my second year as a member of AACTE; however, I feel like I have been a member for a more extended period.
- Why did you join AACTE?
The chair and faculty of the Department of Curriculum, Culture and Education Inquiry informed me about the AACTE Holmes Scholars program and I was nominated, interviewed, and selected. I see this achievement as an opportunity to participate in a crucial professional field and simultaneously contribute to the institution as I hone my skills.
- Why did you decide to enter the field of educator preparation?
My teachers inspired me. They were knowledgeable, dedicated, culturally responsive, and pedagogically prepared. I admired these qualities and their ability to see the potential of every child. They also volunteered their time in social and sporting organizations to ensure that students like me were holistically developed. Therefore, for the past 20 years and more, I have been able to do the same for other students in the field as a teacher, administrator, curriculum officer, examiner, researcher and higher education instructor. I know I am in a privileged and critical position to continue their legacy and to whom much is given, much is expected.
- What’s been your favorite or most memorable moment of your career so far?
It is difficult to identify a singular experience however, my most memorable moments are the ones that allow me to experience the transformation of students, especially when you have intentionally put structures in place to make it happen. For example, I recently had the privilege to work with Dr. Nightingale-Lee, an AACTE Holmes Scholar Alumnus and faculty member at Florida Atlantic University. We worked with Black and Brown students at a middle school in the district to improve their literacy skills using Hip Hop Based Education. The boys’ transformation reminded us of the importance of our work and we were also transformed during the process.
- What’s one thing—educator preparation-related or not—you learned in the last month?
I learned the necessity and power of advocacy. Dr. Ramasamy, the FAU Holmes Scholars Coordinator, ensured that we participated in the AACTE’s 2020 Washington Week, Holmes Policy Institute and Day on the Hill. We were well prepared and met all our congressional representatives virtually. More importantly, we cogently and collectively advocated for the pertinent issues identified by AACTE and the FAU Holmes Scholars.
- What has been the greatest challenge in your career?
The greatest challenge in my career has been my advocacy for an egalitarian education system. To have all stakeholders understand why the Arts should be considered core subjects in our curriculum. In Arts Education, students get the opportunity to learn a discipline and 21st century skills that are needed for success. Students learn to collaborate, be creative, empathize, respond technologically, critique, express themselves, and appreciate different perspectives. These skills are transferred to other aspects of their lives, and their engagement with the community becomes an all-encompassing one.
- What advice would you give someone who is interested in working in this field?
I would advise them first to ensure that they are going to love what they do. The field of education is dynamic and ever-changing and we are responsible for the lives and trajectory of so many people. I have a saying, “speak more from the heart and less from the mind.” Give people oxygenated blood so they can be inspired, motivated, have hope, and eventually continue the cycle. Secondly, know why you are doing the work because your answer becomes your fulfillment. Thirdly, keep learning because the knowledge, skills, and depositions gained will allow you to understand why there can only be enrichment in diversity.
- Who or what inspires you?
My journey inspires me. I grew up in a humble home and community. However, my parents, relatives, teachers, church and community members believed that education was the key to success. The school, as an institution, allowed my friends and I to develop holistically. I was involved in sports, the arts, scouts, Red Cross, and even the 4-H club that taught me to be environmentally conscious, especially as an ‘island’ citizen. My teachers embodied multicultural education, and as students, we saw the richness in each other as we participated in a myriad of festivals and social events. The self-efficacy I developed allowed me to graduate as Male Teacher of the Year from Corinth Teachers College. I graduated top of my class and received numerous awards at the University of the West Indies and I am presently at FAU due to a scholarship and provost fellowship. My trajectory, including at the FAU College of Education, is due to dedicated colleagues and friends in education. They are a perfect complement to my family and I am in a critical position to run with the baton.
- What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I graduated with a B.A. in Music at the Department of Creative and Festival Arts, U.W.I. My principal instrument was the steel pan, which was created in Trinidad and Tobago.
- What is your favorite part about being a member of AACTE?
My favorite part is the diversity of experiences. First, the College of Education Holmes family is from a myriad of departments. As doctoral students, we learn from each other and are prepared to engage the rest of the student population. As President of the FAU College of Education Student Achievement Council, I recently asked my colleagues to serve on a Holmes Scholars Panel. They agreed and we had a dialogue about racial and social justice issues with graduate students and faculty. At the national level, the 2020 AACTE conference in Atlanta was another fulfilling experience. Graduate students were in leadership positions and ensured that we understood the idiosyncrasies of our community. Facilitators reminded us of the importance of mentorship, research, being intentional and focused as Holmes Scholars graduate students. Out of this experience, I am presently completing a manuscript with another Holmes Scholar from Auburn University to submit to the Journal of Mental Health Counseling. AACTE understands the importance of community and continues to create spaces for its members to grow and contribute positively to a field that is crucial to the overall development of society.