It’s always our pleasure to highlight all members of the DREAM Team for objectively exemplary work, but in honor of Black History Month, Democracy Prep is especially excited to highlight several Black DREAM Team members on the DPPS blog.
Adam Johnson, Executive Director, Democracy Prep at the Agassi Campus, believes that although it’s great to have a month where we focus on the contributions of Black leaders, authors, artists, and more, limiting our celebration of Black Americans and their cultural contributions to February does a disservice to Black history.
“Black history is American history,” said Adam. “We should make sure that through every month, we are thinking about how Black Americans have contributed to the building and the forward progress of America.” He added, “I am excited that we work at an organization where we spend a lot of our energy and effort looking at the impact of Black, Asian, and Latin[x] Americans on the history of this country.”
Democracy Prep makes sure to include people of color in curriculum across the network. Adam believes that one of educators’ responsibilities is making sure scholars see themselves reflected in their coursework, teachers, and leaders.
“We have a ‘Black Experience in America’ class [at DPAC HS] and they’re taking on the Black History Month celebrations this year,” said Adam. “They will have a better understanding of their own self-identity and understand how their own identity is viewed both positively and not so positively in our country,” he added. “[They will also learn about] their agency in helping to shift not just the Black experience but also the Black image in America.”
Democracy Prep scholars have the chance to build their critical consciousness, and so do DPPS staff. At DP YOU 2018, DREAM Team members from across the network attended sessions that encouraged them to examine their own biases and how these impact classroom dynamics.
“When I think about the path that we are on as a country, I think it’s important that we are helping children and adults become more inclusive and more understanding of all people,” said Adam. “So, it’s very exciting for me to see [DPPS] thinking about diversity, equity, and inclusiveness in such a large way.”
As a leader of color at Democracy Prep, Adam is thrilled that he gets to play a role in supporting DPAC scholars and shaping their lives. His goal is for DPAC students to return to their community after they graduate from college and become change agents in West Las Vegas.
“By putting these types of topics at the forefront, we actually are making sure that kids have the tools that they need,” said Adam. “Not just the reading, writing, and, arithmetic, but the social skills that they need to be able to go and help make long term change in their communities.”
With a successful first school year as a Democracy Prep school in the books (including DPAC MS’ move from a one star school to a four star school in just one year), Adam is optimistic about the difference DPAC is already making in the West Las Vegas community.
“When I start thinking about what ripple effects this has in West Las Vegas, this is the first tangible proof that I can point to, to say that we are on the right path, doing the right thing, to make the long-term change that we know is needed in our community.”