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Youth Voice: Malaz Hassan

28 September 2022 |

Our ability to develop meaningful relationships is an essential part of our social and emotional development. Take a moment to reflect on a meaningful relationship in your life. How has that person impacted your life, joy, and growth? Now consider how that person entered your life. Is this person a childhood friend, a family member, a loving partner, or even a previous teacher? Do you share similarities with this person either in interests, values, culture, or lived experiences?

In a conversation with youth leader Malaz Hassan, Youth Leadership Council member at Whole Child Connection, she shared with us the powerful impact her teacher, Ms. Coles, had on her life and why shared lived experiences are important!

In this quarterly newsletter, we will feature local Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) Educators as a commitment to elevate and honor excellence in our community. These stories will center on the importance of diversifying education, the power of representation, and the global impact (currently and historically) BIPOC educators have on our world.

This month's feature is dedicated to Ms. Jaizon Coles, a former art and sciences substitute teacher at The Rochester Academy Charter School.

When asked about an educator who has positively impacted her life, Malaz shared this reflection:

“Ms. J works hard, not as a teacher who is meant to grade or teach while sitting in a chair, but she makes an effort to give a positive impression of herself. She appears from time to time to show us who we could be if we didn't limit ourselves physically and mentally. She focuses time and resources to ensure that we comprehend who we are and what we can be or do. She also makes sure we open our eyes and observe what is going on around us, rather than only focusing on what we have been focusing on. She encourages us to be our own model or dream model, becoming and having a purpose. She also taught us to take a break, not to give up, but to recuperate and come back stronger. She inspires me to be the best person I can be. She is a Black woman and a Black educator, and she is my role model.”

We were so moved by the impact Ms. Coles has had on her students, Sierra Fisher (SF),  sat down with Malaz (MH) to learn more. She shared that Ms. Coles was not only a caring source of support but as a woman of color, she was inspired by the opportunity to ‘see” herself in her teacher.

(SF) What makes your relationship with Ms. Coles so meaningful?

(MH) “She is powerful with her words. She taught me a lot and cared a lot about us... It’s more than classwork. She cared about how we were doing... She wanted us to be our own selves, to have our own life, our own route to take....” Malaz continued to share... “She tells our parents how proud she is of us and writes big words on our report cards, she makes it personal. It makes me feel proud. Makes me feel like I did that!”

(SF) How important is it to have BIPOC educators in education?

(MH) “It’s very important. Ms. J. is a role model... she is a Black woman and a role model... she shows that you can become whatever you want to become, that we can be just like Ms. J.”

Thank you, Ms. Coles, for being a source of inspiration, affirming students’ experiences, and demonstrating the impact of meaningful relationships and the power of representation in education!

#belikemsj #bipoceducators #relationshipsmatter

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