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10 Years at IslandWood: Ben Crandall

In August, TAF’s Fellows will return to the Martinez Fellowship’s annual three-day summer retreat where teachers of color receive professional development, community support, and participate in invigorating sessions. For the last ten years, the retreat has been held at IslandWood, an environmental education center on Brainbridge Island, WA, and has become a tradition that our Fellows to look forward to.

To celebrate, we’re highlighting one Fellow from each of Martinez Fellowship’s ten cohorts.

Meet Ben Crandall of Martinez Fellowship Cohort 3, a 5th-grade teacher at Talbot Hill Elementary of Renton Public Schools.

TAF: What was one win or winning moment this past school year?

Ben:  My win is more about surviving this year. Over the past four years, my school has had four principals, changes in the programs offered at our school, full classrooms. This is a proverbial coming over the top and seeing the path and valley below year.

At a student level, I will have my first student enter UW’s summer enrichment programs. She has matured into a 5th (soon 6th) grader who is trying to take charge of her academic success and future.

TAF: Why did you want to become a teacher, and why are you still a teacher?

Ben: I wanted to become a teacher simply from seeing new connections and learning form in the people I worked with. I stay a teacher due to my own children who are maneuvering through the education system. Seeing as a parent reminds me of my purpose as a teacher.

TAF: What do you with the world knew about being a teacher of color?

Ben: I wish that the world understood that being a teacher of color allows a view into stories of students not told through the standard American narrative. Whereas the standard American narrative tells a tale of success by reaching an “end”, being a teacher of color allows me to frame those stories into a tale of “means to the end”.

In this tale, education gives the power for teacher, student, parent, and community to both transform and be transformed by these stories

TAF: What is missing from public education today?

Ben: Investment…not of dollars, but of time, emotional energy from all parties, and a vision of how we better ourselves for a cause greater than any one’s individual career or creed.

“I wish that the world understood that being a teacher of color allows a view into stories of students not told through the standard American narrative.”

TAF’s Martinez Fellowship Program recruits and retains teachers of color in Washington State. Founded in 2008, its 151 Fellows impact over 9,100 students by providing representation and creating equitable academic environments.

By 2038, TAF plans to add over 2,400 teachers of color to the fellowship. Learn more about the Martinez Fellowship.

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