Now in her second year at Hiawatha College Prep (HCP), Danielle Andrews brings a wide range of experiences as a second-grade teacher for Minneapolis Public Schools and as a special educational paraprofessional at public and charter schools around the Twin Cities.

Danielle has been working with Priscilla Dombek, HCP special education teacher, to make African American History Month special for scholars. They are committed to making sure scholars expand their knowledge beyond well-known leaders like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass and Rosa Parks. For example, scholars at HCP used this month to learn about the contributions of Black leaders from around the world like afro-mestizo Mexican revolutionary Vicente Guerrero. “Scholars are learning that someone can be Black and not look, act or talk like any other Black person they’ve ever met,” said Danielle. “We’re challenging their assumptions and asking scholars to think critically about what they know about race.”

Scholars have also taken learning into their own hands by participating in a school-wide jeopardy game on Thursdays, during which they search the school for the right questions to clues related to African American History Month. They also get to sample new foods that are important to the African American communities, like peach cobbler.

When asked about her proudest moment as an educator, she reflected on her role in addressing some issues with bullying at her school. She understands that many times children act out when they don’t have the right tools, language or audience to express their frustrations, or if they don’t have an adult to confide in. “As an educator it is my job to be a voice for scholars who aren’t being seen or heard,” Danielle said. “It is our job to speak for the children. Sometimes you just need to stand up.”

In her free time, Danielle likes to spend time with her three children and travel. While she doesn’t get to take trips often, she did have an especially memorable trip a few years ago in the Bahamas with her husband.