Kentucky’s middle school teacher of the year sees a need to provide non-traditional specialized education. Melanie Trowel is a science educator at Lexington’s Carter G. Woodson Academy. She believes too few minority students are involved in gifted education programs.
“As far as when I talk about equitable outcomes, when we have two percent of the whole gifted and talented program and only two percent of them are represented with African Americans, boys and girls, we’re not addressing a bigger issue,” said Trowel.
Trowel says it’s important to better understand how these young men learn and build a rapport with them. She says more directed teaching techniques are what’s needed to help more students make academic gains.
“Sometimes we come in with a very middle school, I mean middle class mentality, everybody follows the rules and we all give them the same type of education. But, it’s not the same type of education we need to give them. We need to give them what they need. It’s like going to the doctor and if you have three people with sore throats, you don’t want to give them all the same things because they make all have different reasons for having a sore throat. So same thing with education, give them what they need,” added Trowel.
Trowel believes educational intervention should begin very early for some students. She thinks some use of educational data needs to be flipped around.
“Arizona’s penal system uses fourth grade reading levels of students and predicting the number of prisons they’re gonna build. Why not address the issue by fixing that problem, by going further back into education and giving them equitable possibilities,” explained Trowel.
In only its second year, the Academy offers instruction to 125 young men in grades six through ten.