I’ve taught in public and charter schools for several years, utilizing predominantly read-write curriculum scripted by the Department of Education or charter networks. Most of the curriculum is created under the assumption that all children are read-write learners and is incredibly teacher-centered. My experience, with young people of color, is that students are diverse in their learning styles: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, read-write, abstract, movement, etc. The curriculum provided to most students, in New York City, struggles to captivate them. Students are also not receiving course content that relates to his or her cultural context.
If you assess the opportunity gaps, proficiency levels, Individualized Education Plans, and educators that aren’t equipped to foster a youth-centered environment, you are faced with children that become continuously displaced. Some of our current approaches are a disservice to students that are unique in their learning ability and hungry for cultural relevancy.
As an educator, mentor, artist, and activist, I seek spaces that will allow me to use an amalgamation of my abilities to enlighten our next generation. I am adamant about revolutionizing literacy, in communities that are in dire need for something different. For additional income, I perform spoken word poetry, hip-hop, write fiction, and code/graphic design. During my earlier years, in education, I was having difficulty, reaching students who’ve suffered from these opportunity gaps and are trying to catch up to their peers. I began to incorporate lyricism, historical context, and design in my classroom and the success was tremendous.
My pedagogy incorporates materials that cater to all learning styles, throughout the entire lesson. I write songs about homony
ms and have students commit them to memory when students can’t remember appropriate word usage. I find books with characters that are from the same neighborhoods and demographic, as my students, to heighten their connection to the work. I design curriculum for every high school and middle school level, designed to supplement what they are learning in school, and students churn out short stories, poetry, narratives, analytical essays, personal statements, and so much more. As the former Manager of Curriculum of Enrichment and an Arts Director, at the famous Harlem Children’s Zone, I know full well the type of overhaul it takes to transform the way our children learn.
“Erica was truly a gift to the Bella Girlz she was able to connect with the young ladies & was someone for them to look up to. All thirteen young ladies looked forward to seeing & interacting with her every Thursday. Erica never missed a day and always brought positivity & creativity & reinforcement. Erica was the most dedicated, talented, reliable, trustworthy, professional volunteer that I could ask for. Thank you, for all you do for the youth.”
–Laurie Mcnab Panaccione, Bella Foster Girlz Mentoring, Hampton, Virginia
“For more than three decades I have had the good fortune of working with many gifted educators and artists in the community arts education and youth development field. Rarely do I have the opportunity to collaborate with a colleague that has such a diverse repertoire of talents; as an artist, arts educator, as a mentor to so many young people and as an administrator. Over the past five years, I have known Erica Buddington to be an immensely talented educator with the innate intelligence, the scholarly discipline, an appreciation of the balance of academics and arts learning, as well as the supervisorial skills that qualify her for a variety of educational leadership positions.
As the former founder and Director of TRUCE, the award-winning youth development through the arts and media literacy program of the Harlem Children’s Zone, and now the agency’s Senior Director of Quality Assurance, I was able to witness the maturation of Ms. Buddington from a Writing Specialist to a Coordinator for our Writing Corps program, and then its Assistant Director. As her Writing Corps supervisor, I witnessed a renaissance woman who inspires others to perform at their best. Her various competencies became evident to the Harlem Children’s Zone’s senior team and when there was a vacancy for the Director of TRUCE, our award-winning arts and media program, we felt that Erica was the professional we wanted to lead the work.
Ms. Buddington has, in all her capacities, earned the respect of students and staff. She brings a contagious love of learning into all of her interactions, always feverishly taking notes so she can respond to curriculum, administrative, behavioral or production issues with a precise plan of action. Along with that, Erica is a woman of great integrity with a strong moral center who always works in the interest of the young people she serves.”
–Laura Vural, Senior Director of Quality Assurance, Harlem Children’s Zone