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A Message from Superintendent Pero: Celebrating Black History Month

Pittsford Schools are excited to honor Black History Month throughout the month of February with a variety of activities and events that both acknowledge and increase awareness of the impact of Black heritage and culture.

As part of Black History Month, I am excited to share that PTSA has organized “Womba Africa Drumming and Dance” to perform at most of our schools during the month of February as a way to engage students and share the culture of Ghana through dance and music. Thanks to funding from our PTSA, students will have the opportunity to both watch and participate in these high-energy performances.

During each of the 28 days of February, PCSD will also post videos of students reading from the inspirational book “28 Days: Moments in Black history that changed the world” by author Charles R. Smith, Jr. The video recordings will feature students and staff members from Mendon and Sutherland High Schools.

Additionally, teachers will supplement the existing inclusivity/diversity aspects of curriculum with special activities and events during Black History Month. Our nine schools will celebrate Black History Month in various ways, including:

  • Library carts at elementary schools with books that celebrate the accomplishments of Black people throughout history. The books represent a range of levels, genres, and topics for students to enjoy and teachers to use as a springboard for student discussion, writing or art reflection.

  • Morning announcements will include moments in Black history that changed the world, including achievements from both well-known and lesser-known Black historical figures.

  • Bulletin boards displaying student work related to Black History Month.

  • Making connections to Black History Month through curriculum. For example, fifth-grade students are taking part in a literacy unit on “Changemakers” that includes many Black people who have made a difference for others. Third grade is incorporating African-American folktales, fables, and fairy tales for their upcoming reading unit; and second graders have been taking part in an ongoing picture book study that focuses on perspective taking. 

  • Selecting texts that are diverse, inclusive, and complex, and texts that serve as both windows and mirrors for students. 

  • Completing “quick writes” in response to various texts as a means of expressing their voice. In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, for example, some students wrote about the ways Dr. King impacted others and helped to change the world.

  • Reading highly acclaimed books about significant historical Black figures or written by Black authors, including those who received the Coretta Scott King Book awards in recognition of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of Black culture.

  • Participating in classroom read-alouds and discussions fostered from picture books with diverse characters as a way to open conversations on a variety of topics and raise awareness of inclusivity and equity.

  • Displaying commemorative galleries in some of our schools of vignettes and photos of significant figures in Black history.

  • Curating an online collection of books and resources highlighted especially during Black History Month for educators to access throughout the year in the school libraries.

Flor Jelani Ayala-Pound artwork at 2022 NYS Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Art & Essay ExhibitAs we honor and celebrate Black History Month, the District’s mission of “working collaboratively to inspire and prepare our students to be their best, do their best and make a difference in the lives of others” remains at the forefront of everything we do. On a regular basis, I witness students carrying out this mission in so many ways. One such student is Barker Road Middle School student Flor Jelani Ayala-Pound who has artwork on display at the “2022 NYS Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Art & Essay Exhibit” which highlights Dr. King's Six Principles and Steps of Nonviolence. Ayala-Pound’s pencil drawing depicts Martin Luther King, Jr. surrounded by quotes from his speeches. It is one of hundreds of submissions from schools across New York State to be part of New York State Education Department’s annual exhibit: