In honor of Black History Month, Education Northwest is recognizing the contributions of African American educators and community leaders in our region who are doing exceptional work to improve public education and make a difference in students’ lives.
Andrea Cobb is the executive director of the Center for the Improvement of Student Learning at the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and vice president of the Tacoma School District Board of Directors.
She has worked in higher education as an undergraduate admissions counselor and an advisor on increasing access to college programs and has also been active in helping Washington state develop and advance policy proposals to improve student learning.
“I'm working toward a future when every student receives an education that imparts the knowledge, skills and confidence they'll need to thrive in their lives after high school.”
Tony Hopson is president and chief executive officer of Self Enhancement, Inc. (SEI), a youth-development organization in Portland, Oregon.
A nationally regarded social entrepreneur, he is passionate about the state of education in America as it relates to the plight of children of color and children in poverty. Since founding SEI in 1981, Hopson has grown the organization from a one-week basketball camp to a comprehensive program that serves more than 7,000 youth and families annually.
“African Americans have never been short on talent, work ethic, innovation or perseverance. If America is the greatest nation on earth, it is that in part because of the African American contribution. May the ‘Hidden Figures’ and hidden accomplishments of black people be brought to light and celebrated so our nation can heal and truth can lead us toward a more honest and inclusive future.”
Natalie Moten is an instructional coach with the Anchorage School District in Alaska.
She began her career 22 years ago in Baltimore, Maryland, where her passion for teaching was nurtured. She now supports middle and high school teachers as they move along the continuum of teaching excellence and meet the diverse needs of every student in our classrooms, schools, and community.
“I was born into a family of educators who fostered my love of learning. I am a lifelong learner. I am a teacher of students. Today I am a teacher of teachers who want to transform their instructional practice. As Oprah Winfrey stated, ‘Education is the way to move mountains, to build bridges, to change the world. Education is the path to the future. I believe that education is indeed freedom.’”
Dr. Godfrey Saunders is an assistant teaching professor at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana, and a director in the School Administrators of Montana’s Leaders Professional Learning Program.
During a 32-year career in public education—as a teacher, coach, counselor, assistant principal and principal—he earned the prestigious Milken Educator Award and a lifetime achievement award from his alma mater, University of Montana Western.
“We need teachers who are willing and able to think, act and teach without the ‘proverbial’ box. For them to have this kind of instructional freedom, they need principals who are competent, courageous and supportive. Such leaders afford teachers the opportunity to teach students subject matter instead of teaching subject matter to students.”