Educator Spotlight: Mercedes Clemons
Junior high educator in Arizona gives her students their own voice in history lessons
This story is part of a monthly series that celebrates outstanding teachers in our Flipgrid community. Stories by Angela Tewalt.
As a sixth-grade history teacher, Mercedes Clemons has a lot to unveil to her bright-eyed students.
Surely, there are stories, maps, photos and written decrees that could fill up a year’s worth of teaching, but Mercedes doesn’t concede by piling heavy textbooks onto each desk. Instead, she arrives with her own questions, too.
Mercedes is unafraid to invite opinion into her social studies class. She is brave to teach beyond the facts and to ask that each of her students consider not just what they need to know, but what they can do about it moving forward, and she’s building an immense amount of self-respect and responsibility along the way.
“While my students might not be able to remember that the Emancipation Proclamation was given in 1863, they can remember the impact of the Emancipation Proclamation one hundred years later,” Mercedes says. “They’re starting to realize things that happened 200 years ago are affecting injustices right now within our country.
“They’re beginning to understand systemic racism or why gender equality hasn’t happened yet – they’re really just thinking things out, and that’s been an amazing experience.”