November 9, 2023 | By Sarah Mayper
The BDL community is proud of longtime Debate-Inspired teacher Connell Cloyd, the recipient of the Barbara Henry Courage in Teaching Award, named for the teacher who courageously volunteered to teach Ruby Bridges in 1960 when all other teachers in a newly desegregated, all-white New Orleans school refused.
Mr. Cloyd is a veteran Debate-Inspired teacher and teacher leader. Since Henderson Inclusion School became a BDL DI Classrooms partner school in 2018, he has been an enthusiastic adopter of Debate-Inspired practices, and a leader/learner who is willing to try new approaches with his students whenever his interest is sparked.
One of Mr. Cloyd’s most powerful qualities as a teacher is the way he builds community in his classroom. In the DI Teaching Model, we help teachers develop critical thinking in community. In his classroom, Mr. Cloyd builds trust and community by sharing his own lived experiences and his absolute commitment to his students as people and thinkers. Being vulnerable and honest with them is part of what makes Mr. Cloyd’s teaching so powerful. As he said in a Dorchester Reporter interview:
“I began to imagine how it would have been different for me if I had someone like me leading the way to help with all of these things,” he said. “I just came to the conclusion that I had to be a teacher. I had fought it forever…but I felt I had so much to offer. It was a calling.”
Congratulations to this brilliant, dedicated, and truly courageous teacher. Read the Dorchester Reporter article here and watch a video of Mr. Cloyd in the classroom below.
“Kids this age can sniff you out and they can tell what you’re in it for… If they see you really want to teach them and care about that, they will buy in.”
– Connell Cloyd