EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — As we continue through National Teacher Appreciation Week we are highlighting an East Hartford teacher who is impacting the lives of her students and the school community.
Tracey Lafayette has been a teacher at Robert O’Brien STEM Academy for five years. She tells News 8, “I think my goal every year is to make sure that the kids that come into my classroom have the knowledge and tools they need to make the world a better place.”
Principal Talisha Foy says she incorporates her passion for activism into her third-grade curriculum to make it appropriate for the students.
For instance, as they continue working on their writing and creating opinion essays, Lafayette encourages the students to choose topics of their own. She tells us, “It’s not writing a story just for the sake of writing a story but it’s something that has meaning.”
She worked to create a list of topics with her students and she says allowing them to talk about today’s topics helps them feel safe and supported, “So when we talk about these topics they have an opportunity with their peers in class but also with a trusted adult, to work through some of the things that make them nervous worried or even upset.”
Lafayette encourages diversity and inclusion in her classroom and hopes her students will continue to spread that and continue making change.
Beyond the classroom, Lafayette also spent about three weeks in South Africa on a Fund for Teachers trip. She says, “And the purpose of our trip to learn about apartheid and its connection to civil rights movement in the United States and come back and talk to our kids about activism.”
After the trip, she created a social activism library for her school community, “Having conversations that are deeper with the students than surface-level things and how you can tie it back into the curriculum that make sense for the students but make sure you’re accomplishing things you need to as a teacher.”