Teacher of the month: Charmaine Shuford

What can be said about January? It’s the first month of the year, the halfway point of the school year, a time for hope and positivity. While this past year has been a doozy for all of us, teachers continue to be the backbone for their students and our education system. For all these reasons and more, 826 Valencia is ecstatic to announce that Charmaine Shuford of Downtown High School is our Teacher of the Month!

Teacher of the month: Charmaine ShufordMs. Shuford is integral to Downtown High School (DHS) and is a fundamental part of Acting for Critical Thought (also known as A.C.T.), a semester-long project that helps students examine a subject and work together to write a play. As one colleague said “Charmaine finds the balance between tough love and loving caretaker in all her interactions. She’s incredibly supportive and encouraging while maintaining high expectations and being direct when students aren’t living up to their potential.”

Through offering unwavering support and setting high expectations Ms. Shuford has encouraged and challenged her students to step it up—in more ways than one. One unique way she’s done this is by incorporating step dance into her classes, which one colleague says “has fundamentally changed the DHS residency. I saw many Exhibitions (final performances) each semester at A.C.T. prior to the Step element being integrated and none of them have the same joy, power, and above all, collaborative sense of community that all exhibitions now do thanks to Charmaine’s integration of step into the final performance. Her students clearly respect her and value her, when I’ve seen her lead a classroom, her voice demands attention and love. The energy in the classroom is nothing less than a family.”

Throughout her time at DHS, Ms. Shuford not only has fans among her colleagues, but among her students as well! As one student said, “Ms. Shuford is a wonderful teacher. I love the way she connects with me. I love the way she teaches and makes sure we all got everything down and personally I love the bond I have with Ms. Shuford.” Another student raves, “Since I got to Downtown she helped me so much and helped me get out my shell in this new school environment and has helped me in not only my journey to succeed in school but in life.”

Here’s more about Ms. Shuford in her own words:

As a high school, humanities, and ELA teacher with the ACT project at Downtown High School (DHS), I teach and aid students how to empower themselves through writing in class using the knowledge accumulated over the course of a semester. I also teach step at DHS and Lowell HS.  I would describe myself as fierce, fearless, loving, and definitely bold with my laughter and love for my people!

Originally from Washington, DC, I aspire to serve the community and youth of San Francisco with everything I have. This has been my second home for the past 6 years and I have seen the unfortunate decimation of Black and POC communities in the city and the best way to halt this is with the youth. My hope is that hope is restored in these communities and they get to thrive and not just survive. 

When I’m not teaching, I am living my life to the fullest! That looks like hiking, traveling, dancing, spreading love and joy, seeking all kinds of thrills, and most importantly, being intentional about loving ME. We must preserve ourselves at all costs, serve those that are in any type of need, and remember that the world is waiting for US.

Thank you so much for all you do for your community and your students, Ms. Shuford. You are truly such an inspiration. Congratulations! Read more about past teachers of the month here.

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.