Little Flowers & Leaving Howard

From the time I entered Howard University as a Freshman, I have wanted to work here. When I finished college, I made it a tradition that every time I drove past the campus I would pray, “God please let me work here one day.” When that door finally opened up for me, I felt that I had finally reached my ultimate dream career.

For the past 3 years (1 year as adjunct and almost 2 as a full time lecturer), I have enjoyed teaching Humanities 1 and 2 in the Classics and English department. Leaving was the farthest thing from my mind. I would often say, “I am not leaving until Howard puts me out or God makes me move.” The love I have for Howard has always been so deep and emotional, so leaving is a great sacrifice for me.

I have recently been reading Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi and there is a chapter that talks about when Fr. Bernard went to a little town and started a monastery. The ministry grew and the people of the town (who at one time rejected him) came to really love him. He felt his heart becoming so tied to the monastery. At that moment he knew it was time for him to go and return to his home monastery. Leaving must have been so painful for him, but he saw that each place he may go to minister is not “his” to keep but every place he goes is part of God’s plan for his life to fulfill a purpose. This story really touched me, because I love Howard. It is like home for me and yet I know that God is calling me to leave.

I was offered a position at Johns Hopkins that to my great surprise, is connected to a passion of my heart. This was not an opportunity I was looking for, but it is an opportunity that I cannot resist. As Director of High Quality Curriculum and Instruction in the Institute for Education Policy, I will be given the opportunity to review social studies and ELA curricula around the US and provide feedback for how it can be more racially and culturally sensitive. I will also be given the opportunity to give suggestions on how to bring more high quality content into curricula. I will be working with public, charter, private schools and other educational organizations and already this work has captured my heart. While teaching at Howard, I would often have my students talk about how frustrating it is that they did not get the same information in k12 schools. They recognized that coming to college was their first time learning so many different aspects of human history. It is my hope that with Johns Hopkins I can be able to support public, charter and private schools around the country who reach out to us, so that students come into college with a more complete perspective of human history and a stronger comprehension of English/Language Arts.

I feel that education is a public service and now I get the opportunity to serve children all over the US. I have enjoyed my time at Howard and now I look forward to sharing my passion for education with Johns Hopkins. This was not an easy decision. I initially tried to keep both positions, but the work became so overwhelming that I was forced to choose. I chose Johns Hopkins, because I feel that I can still have a connection with Howard students through doing my own independent projects and literature discussions with students who are still interested in learning from me (details about this opportunity are coming soon!). If I do not go to Johns Hopkins, I will not have the opportunity to touch K12 students around the country in a meaningful way.

It is my hope that leaving will not be seen as abandoning my community. In my mind, I see myself as still being available to any students from Howard or anywhere who want to continue the Great Conversation with me. Johns Hopkins has proven to be very supportive of the work I am currently engaged with in liberal arts education. There is opportunity for me to grow and advance here. There is so much I want to share with humanity, but I especially want to reach young people. I strongly believe that the best way to address some of our country’s tensions is to reach our young people in K12 education. I am thankful that the Institute for Education Policy at Johns Hopkins has opened the door and given such wonderful support for me to share my life’s work.

The book Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi is such an inspiration to me right now. Leaving Howard was a very dark moment for me at first. It was filled with many tears, and literally has felt painful. Yet, I recognize that sometimes sacrificing the thing you love the most for a greater purpose can bring forth something beautiful.

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