Don Dumas Makes History Relevant to All of His Students

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As a high school student, Don Dumas didn't feel he mattered because the curriculum was disconnected from his experience. "I was kicking and screaming on my way toward graduation," he said. But Joyce Suber, a Black high school English teacher, took notice, introduced him to books like The Autobiography of Malcolm X and Manchild in the Promised Land, and urged him, Dumas says, to use his experience "for your own elevation and your own self-realization for who you are and who you want to be." 

Now, as I high school teacher himself, he was recently recognized as one of five teachers of the year among 40,000 educators in San Diego County. Dumas says he tries to emulate what he learned from Ms. Suber--most importantly her belief in all of her students. "She never gave up on us," Dumas, said, despite frequent suspensions, expulsions, and run-ins with the law. "She never let us believe we couldn't achieve more than what our circumstances dictated."

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