Submitted by Ashley Radder-Renter on Wed, 02/10/2021 - 15:00
<span id="hs_cos_wrapper_name" class="hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_text" style="" data-hs-cos-general-type="meta_field" data-hs-cos-type="text" >Mission Impossible? Make An Impact Where You Are - Week Two</span>

Mission Impossible? Make An Impact Where You Are - Week Two

In case you missed last week, we officially kicked off our new Mission Impossible blog series. In last week’s blog, we heard from Nelson Watson III. In Nelson’s collegiate years at Southwest Texas State (SWT), he impacted others when he helped inspire and form a new organization on his campus named The Coalition of African-Americans Unified for Self Empowerment (CAAUSE), to help change and bring awareness to inequality and unethical practices. We also learned fun facts about Booker T. Washington, who founded the teacher’s college Tuskegee Institute for African Americans in 1881.  

In this series, we are sharing stories from people who have defeated odds, shattered barriers, or made an impact when faced with moments and feelings about a mission they thought impossible. An impact can be made by stepping out of your comfort zone and persevering in the face of challenge or adversity. This week’s blog will focus on Ayanna Najuma. As a young child, she did what she thought was impossible (at the time), but her actions led to changing her neighborhood, city, and, eventually, the entire nation! Her story will hopefully inspire you and your students to think differently about “the impossible.” 

Fannie C Williams

Did You know That One Tiny Voice Can Change The World? 

Many of you may be unfamiliar with Ayanna Najuma. Still, some of you may be familiar with the Movement called I HAVE A VOICE NOW that teaches children to decide what issues in society are impacting their lives, create solutions to address them, and then go out and take action to make a change.                                                                               

Ayanna Najuma Ayanna Najuma grew up in the South in the 50's, and as a young child, she took a trip with her classmates and her teacher to New York City when she was seven years old. She noticed immediately that NYC was different from what she was used to; the things she saw and witnessed in the City were impossible to imagine back home in the South. She noticed that white folks and black folks could dine together, sleep nearby, and drink from the same water fountains. When she arrived back home, she and her classmates questioned, “why do we have to live this way?” and so, they decided to make a change right then and there. It wasn’t easy, she was just a kid, but she recognized that her voice was just as important as everybody else’s. With help from their parents, they prepared and engaged in training because they didn’t want to get hurt. She and her classmates learned the importance of non-violence and peaceful protest and that people are afraid of change. When people are fearful of change, it can lead to adversity; however, people will do better when people know better. 


When she and her classmates finished preparing, they went to Katz’s lunch table, a local restaurant, and engaged in a sit-in. They were refused service for three days before finally, the waitress served them. That sparked a series of sit-ins that she and 13 other children participated in, in and around Oklahoma City during the Civil Rights Movement. She continued to engage in the sit-ins for another seven years. One by one, each sit-in led to the establishment’s desegregation until the Civil Rights Act was passed and the entire nation changed. She thought if she was able to let her voice be heard, all children could do it. Years later, when she told her story to a group of children, she decided to create a movement to inspire all children to let their voices be heard.  Visit this link with your students to watch her share her interactive story on How Kids Change The World.

If she did it, you could do it too!

It’s important to remember not only for ourselves but also for children that learn from us that no matter what the obstacle or challenge that lay ahead or no matter how big or small; if everyone is intentional about what is being done and about how bad you want it to happen, that anyone can make a difference wherever they are. If she could do it at seven years old, you can do it too! It doesn’t matter how old you are!  You can make a difference regardless of who you are or how small you are. Just be intentional about making a difference in the world. It’s genuinely possible as long as you believe. Ayanna Najuma didn’t know she would change the world when she started to participate in sit-ins. Initially, she just wanted to live how she saw children and people like her live. She wanted to be served a hamburger and fries in her community without worrying if she would be refused service due to skin color. 

No matter who you are, it’s significant to recognize that you can start right where you are now. Look at the challenge in front of you today from a different perspective and have an anything is a possible mindset. You may be thinking, well, that happened 60+ years ago or, most of us are teaching virtually now, what does that have to do with making an impact today? Well, the answer lies in the way that you choose to view the seemingly impossible task you might be thinking about right now.  How can you start from where you are at this moment and create a lasting impression, or solve a challenge in front of you? How can you motivate your students to let their voices be heard when they come to you with something they think is impossible.  As an educator, you make a difference with each day that you show up for your students, volunteer for that after-hours extracurricular activity, or seek to advocate to change a policy that isn’t working, or a policy that doesn't match the best interest of all students. Or when you create a new program to provide new opportunities for your students. Remember, differences are fueled by our reason for the action and our intentionality with our action. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone! Encourage your students, to do the same. If your Black History lesson could use some differentiation or refinement, decide to revamp your lesson and ensure that students know Black History beyond the textbook

Feeling Inspired?

If Ayanna Najuma’s story has inspired you to make an impact where you are, subscribe to our blog and submit your feedback!

As a teacher, during pandemic times and civil unrest, you may be facing moments that feel like impossible missions. I’d like to encourage you not to give up if you think that something is impossible. When wide range remote teaching started about a year ago, many teachers initially felt they were faced with the impossible, and many left the field. Of course, teaching students virtually has had many setbacks and many challenges, but look at what has been accomplished! Look at how far you have come! It is not easy being a teacher today; seasoned teachers who have been teaching for years may feel like they are first-year teachers all over again, but the silver lining is that you have a unique opportunity to make a lasting difference and an opportunity to build and revamp lessons you’ve taught for years. One small change can lead to a changed world for everyone!  You never know the lasting impact you may be backing when you choose to persevere.

Black History Fun Facts!

This month we are sharing Black History fun facts on our social media pages. Here are some additional fun facts about Black History that you can share with others. Did you know that many Black Americans were never really celebrated or initially given credit for innovations they created or inspired that changed the world and made daily life easier for everyone? Did you know that Sarah Boone expanded the original ironing board that led to the modern ironing boards that are still used today. Imagine how life might be different without this significant contribution, that which were innovated in response to a challenge in front of them?  

If you found this information interesting or useful, let us know by submitting your feedback! We would love to hear what you have to say about the topics we share and what you would like to hear more about. As we grow, be sure to like and share us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram so that we can expand our reach and move closer to our mission of equipping educators everywhere!

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