Osceola Ward is one of three May Teachers of the Month!
This month we’re excited to release our Young Authors’ Book Project, our biggest publishing project of the year, in partnership with Civic Center Secondary School, Willie Brown Jr. Middle School, Mission High School, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School. Our History is Deeper Than What They Tell Us features the collected voices of young students as they tell the stories of their most resilient selves and their brightest dreams. To celebrate, we’re honoring our three partner teachers with the Teacher of the Month Award.
Mr. Ward teaches a Black media studies course for middle school and high school students. Within his teaching, he works to make sure that students feel confident within themselves. He says, “I think a lot of our students struggle to see themselves as people who hold histories, who hold stories that are worthy—that are valuable. And I think that this project was really an affirmation of that…I just think about what it means too, a locale like San Francisco, which has a very historic Black population, but one that’s often overlooked or erased—to be putting together a book by young people who really are the future of their communities, that are often times forgotten. I think that’s really really powerful.”
Part of fortifying his students’ confidence and self worth is done through his practice of reading from a list of positive affirmations that he initially curated with his students at the beginning of class. These follow after Mr. Ward leads his students through five deep breaths, a practice meant to give Ward’s class a moment to heal.
“With the ongoing state violence being enacted against Black men, women, children, gender non-conforming people, trans people—we are holding so much pain and trauma in this moment. To think about the way COVID has impacted our community, and also the economic impacts that we are continually dealing with—we oftentimes don’t have a space where that is acknowledged. So I think it was really important to acknowledge that pain and make space for it, but also make space for the collectivity that we all have, that we all share a common breath and that there is power and healing in the breath, and that we can imagine a better and brighter future that revolves around healing.”
Mr Ward strives to make his virtual classroom a humanizing and healing space through meditation, which has become important to his own stress management and intention setting. It’s a goal that his students take notice of: “I have had students say that this class has helped them stay present and focused on their educational journey during this school year. I’ve had students express to me that they’re thinking more mindfully about their relationship to stress., especially during these times…and I will say that all my graduating seniors are college bound. Not to say that’s the barometer of success, but I think that that’s really an indication of their belief and confidence in themselves as learners. So I take that as a victory.”
Thank you Mr. Ward for your dedication to the wellbeing of your students. Congratulations on being our Teacher of the Month!
We warmly thank our friends at KKR for making our Teacher of the Month Program possible this year with a KKR COVID Response Fund. Learn more at KKR.com/grants.