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In the media: It takes a village — Black parents protecting black genius

The work of William Jackson (Ph.D. ’18) to support widening aspirations among black students in Durham schools is profiled by Forbes.

Jackson is the founder of Village of Wisdom, a nonprofit group that works with black students and their families, demonstrating to them the strengths they bring to their school relationships and environments.

In the profile, Jackson talks about his approaches, including the use of “Black Genius Profiles” in which families provide information to teachers about their child.

“So this is a tangible way that parents can add value to the education system by giving teachers more information about their children,” Jackson told Forbes.

“We’ve begun to support teachers with what to do with the information: ‘Okay, you get this Black Genius Profile of one of your students. Now, as you think about what you’re teaching in the next six weeks, can you embed one of this child’s interests into one of the lessons? Can you think about, oh, they’re really interested in Simone Biles and use that.’ The new information helps teachers activate the student’s prior knowledge and draws them in a way that engages their curiosity and interests in new and more meaningful ways.”

More than 300 parents and students have completed Black Genius Profiles, Jackson told Forbes.

“And, in classrooms where teachers use the Black Genius Profile to enhance their instruction, early evidence suggests Black students are more engaged, have greater trust in their teachers, and are more likely to persist through difficult learning challenges,” Jackson told Forbes.

Also, Jackson told Forbes that Village of Wisdom now has more than 1,000 parents connected through a Facebook group.

“We all benefit when we see each other and the genius that we bring to the table,” Jackson said. “Then we get to solutions that hopefully can transform our whole education system into one that liberates Black Genius instead of oppressing it. And then, in the future, transform our world.”