Today is the release day of Midnight Teacher: Lilly Ann Granderson and Her Secret School,a picture book about the little-known story of Lilly Ann Granderson, an African-American teacher who risked her life to teach others during slavery. To celebrate, we interviewed author Janet Halfmann to find out more about the story behind Midnight Teacher.
Many of us have not heard of Lilly Ann Granderson’s story. How did you find out about her legacy? What inspired you to write about Lilly Ann Granderson?
I learned about it in bits and pieces. I have long been interested in early black educators, partly because so many books about teachers in the early schools for African Americans are about white teachers from the North. I wanted to shine the spotlight on an amazing early black teacher. The first mentions I found about Lilly Ann Granderson were under the name Milla Granson, the name used by a northern abolitionist who met this teacher and wrote about it in her book. Once I started researching, I learned that Lilly Ann Granderson was known as the Midnight Teacher because she held her secret classes from midnight until two in the morning. That fact made the story all the more intriguing to me, and I thought it would be for kids too. All accounts I found about this teacher ended shortly after the Civil War, so I am honored to have had the opportunity to flesh out Lilly Ann Granderson’s amazing and inspiring story and share it with the world.
Think there’s no need for sepia-toned filters and hashtags in your classroom? Don’t write off the world of #selfies just yet.
Instagram is one of the most popular social media channels among generation Z, or those born after 1995 and don’t know a world without the Internet. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that this is a generation of visual learners and communicators, where sharing your life-from the food you’re about to eat to your thoughts about anything and everything-is a part of your everyday routine. So, why allow Instagram in your classroom? Continue reading →
Guest bloggerKatie Cunningham is an Assistant Professor at Manhattanville College. Her teaching and scholarship centers around children’s literature, critical literacy, and supporting teachers to make their classrooms joyful and purposeful. Katie has presented at numerous national conferences and is the editor of The Language and Literacy Spectrum, New York Reading Association’s literacy journal.
We know love when we see it. The best mornings I have as a parent are when I see love between my sons. Moments like when my one-and-a-half year old spontaneously hugs my four year old, and he hugs him back. The best mornings I had as a teacher were when I saw love between my students. When a second grader high-fives a classmate for taking a risk with a math problem or when a student sits by someone at lunch who looks alone. As a parent and an educator, I am always on the look out for stories that center love in ways that enable young children to immediately but deeply understand what love is.
It’s been 59 years since Brown vs. Board of Education overturned the “separate but equal” doctrine in schools, but that doesn’t mean discrimination has disappeared from the classroom. Teaching children about race can be a tricky topic, but luckily, there are many great resources and books out there. Our new picture book, As Fast As Words Could Fly, takes a unique look at school desegregation, following an African American family in North Carolina in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement. Based on the experiences of author Pamela Tuck’s father, it’s proof that just one young person could – and still can – make a big difference.
Jaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.
I live in Astoria, Queens, one of the most racially, culturally and ethnically diverse neighborhoods in New York, and my apartment building absolutely reflects that diversity. My neighbors are from Egypt, Bangladesh, and the Dominican Republic and the building is warm and lively, full of immigrant families with young children.
Last week, New York City public schools were closed for Rosh Hashanah, and on Monday, my neighbors’ children played in our building’s courtyard late into the night. My windows were open, and as I sat reading I caught snippets of their conversations as they laughed and ran and screamed and played. But when I stopped and I listened closely, it occurred to me that I kept hearing the same word over and over: the “n-word.”
It was just falling out of their mouths, every other word, as if it were just a synonym for “friend” or “dude.” This saddened me for a couple reasons: