Displaying My Passion for Education and Social Justice
SCHOOLS | March 25, 2022
Displaying My Passion for Education and Social Justice

By Ms. Anna Lane, History Teacher at Kelly College Prep

I am, first and foremost, an anti-racist teacher. I approach history through a critical lens and center the stories of individuals in our country who have been oppressed. I want my students to understand why we are where we are right now and analyze the societal structures that are in place. For whom were they built? Why were they built that way? And have we challenged them? 

Some people believe that education should be apolitical, but I don’t think that is possible. We all have our biases. We all have our opinions. And the voices you bring to the forefront of your classroom are inherently political. You cannot just stand on the sidelines as an educator. You need to draw your own conclusions. 

I’ve known that I wanted to be a teacher since I was in the second grade. I’ve always had a passion for teaching, and my high school teachers inspired me to become a history teacher specifically. That passion hasn’t wavered; I’ve been teaching at Kelly for the past 20 years. 

I’ve built a lot of relationships over the past two decades, and my colleagues and students have seen the passion that I have for social justice firsthand. I love to work within the Brighton Park Community because it’s mere blocks from where I grew up in Back of the Yards. I like to think that I give a lot of myself to my community—not just in my classroom, but also with the solidarity work that I do. 

My overarching belief in everything that I do is that everyone deserves compassion and kindness. I try to model that behavior for my students on a daily basis. Not everyone may be from my cultural group or speak my language or practice my traditions, but they are still my brothers and sisters. Everyone deserves to be uplifted and treated with respect. 

We have been through so much over the past two years, and I want my students and colleagues to know that their feelings are legitimate. Teaching is a difficult profession, but if you have the passion for the work, you know what you need to do to move forward. 

My passion drives me to teach from a place of love. If you don’t love the students who are in front of you—their stories, their culture, and their traditions—it is very difficult to reach them. 

My students may not remember every date or battle from the Civil War, but they are going to remember that I cared. 

By teaching through the lens of anti-racism, I’m teaching truth to power. While some of these truths may be uncomfortable, I’m making sure to uplift the voices that need to be uplifted. And, at the same time, I’m showing my students that we still have a long way to go. There are so many struggles out there that are worth fighting for. 

My students are worth fighting for. 

Ms. Lane is one of the District’s 13 finalists for the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching. She admits that she struggled with imposter syndrome near the beginning of her career, but she knows this recognition is just the latest sign that she is making a difference in her classroom.