Skip Navigation or Skip to Content

“I wanted Black students to come together so they could go to each other for camaraderie and help.”

—Danyelle Hodge, Lake Elsinore Teachers Association

Educator Danyelle Hodge, a member of Lake Elsinore Teachers Association (LETA), noticed some disturbing trends among students in her school district in recent years. There seemed to be an increase in racial tension, including widespread use of the N-word, and a lack of unity amongst the Black students in the district.

A dance party at the BSU Summit at Elsinore High School

Black students only make up only 3.9% of the district’s student population, and Hodge understood that collaboration, unity and education in Black history and culture was vital to their success. “I knew that something needed to be done to support our Black students, who are such a small percentage of the total number of students that they were insignificant,” said Hodge, who is Black and teaches fourth grade. She notes that Lake Elsinore is a “super conservative area.”

At the BSU Summit, left to right: Danyelle Hodge, BSU advisor and LETA elementary director; Mario Montano, LETA president; Bunmi Adeleke, BSU advisor and LETA high school director.

“I wanted Black students to come together so they could go to each other for camaraderie and help. It was hard for me at first because there are just three Black teachers at my site, so how must it be for students?”

At a CTA conference, Hodge had learned about educator grants from CTA’s Institute for Teaching for teacher projects. She had an idea to bring together current Black Student Unions in her district — at three high schools, two middle schools and a K–8 school. After conferring with the BSU advisors, Hodge and her team applied for and received a $19,180 grant.

Their Black Student Union Initiative is now bringing awareness to the unique issues and topics faced by the district’s Black student population. The group held an inaugural student summit on Oct. 17, which featured team-building activities, an inspirational guest speaker and lunch. The initiative plans to host an HBCU College & Career Fair, take students on field trips to cultural museums and theater, and hold a family event in the spring that includes the district’s “Junior” BSU (for grades 1–5).

In addition, the initiative will run a districtwide anti- N-word campaign which will include buttons, posters and lesson plans for grades 4–12.

The team now includes members of the local African American Parent Advisory Council. In the future, Hodge hopes to expand BSUs to other district schools. A graduate of CTA’s Ethnic Minority Early Identification & Development (EMEID) program, Hodge currently serves as a CTA Cadre Trainer, where she says, “I strive for equality in education, especially in the areas where that seems nearly impossible.”

The Discussion 0 comments Post a Comment

Leave a comment

Please post with kindness. Your email address willl not be published. Required fields are marked*

Scroll To Top Down Arrow An arrow pointing downwards