In a kindergarten classroom in Akron, students eagerly raise their hands as Chelsea Griffin, a recent Kent State University graduate, leads a lesson on her last day of student teaching.
The kids want to be first in everything. And they want to please their teacher.
Griffin, 23, likes to think that she once shared her students’ carefree outlook on life.
She grew up in a supportive middle class family with great friends and teachers. But she first noticed around third grade that her race set her apart.
Her chances of confiding in a teacher who also identified as multiracial were slim. In 2006, only 20 multiracial teachers worked in Ohio’s public schools, according to state data.
In the predominantly white suburb where Griffin grew up, 136 of the 137 teachers remain white.
Griffin admits to internalizing bits of her sometimes confusing search for racial identity. The experience wasn’t all negative, she added, but she figures a few students or, at the least, a single teacher who looked like her might have given her more comfort and confidence.
“You know when you wake up that you’re black. When you’re the minority, you feel like you’re constantly reminded of that,” Griffin said. “And going to not as much of a diverse school, I think you’re reminded of that more. And so that may have been something that I struggled with — not feeling like part of the whole culture of the school.”
(Read more at the Akron Beacon Journal)