Black History Month Special Edition
This is the first of four special Black History Month articles that will run in The Wave this month.
Rather than run the usual and sometimes mundane material that traditionally runs in Black History Month
sections -- Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream Speech," or the story of how Jackie Robinson broke into major
league baseball in 1948, we will feature stories of local people from the world of education, politics, business and
community affairs, who will speak from their hearts about growing up and about the role models in the
Black community that made they who they have become.
Local Educators Speak About Their Role Models
Local In structional Superintendent (LIS) Region Five
Michelle Lloyd-Bey serves as the Local Instructional Supervisor for only one school in Rockaway, MS 198 in Arverne, thought be many to be the worst school on the peninsula. She has promised to turn it around. She has progressed through the district, from teacher to assistant principal to principal to deputy superintendent and then to superintendent.
Michelle Lloyd-Bey, the former superintendent of Community School District 27 is now a local instructional superintendent for Region Five. One of her responsibilities is MS 198 in Arverne.
Lloyd-Bey was a principal in District 27 and then assistant superintendent under Matt Bromme. When he left the district to take a job at Tweed Court house, she became the district superintendent.
Lloyd-Bey told The Wave that her role models when she was growing up were her parents, Clifford and Jacqueline Lloyd-Bey.
"My father started out as a paraprofessional and then he became a social studies teacher," Lloyd-Bey said. "In my household, we had our own little school. Since my father was a history teacher, he made sure that I knew about history. I never had low self-esteem thanks to him and his history lessons."
"He really gave me a sense of pride," she added.
The LIS grew up in Bushwick, Brooklyn, where she attended public schools and Franklin K. Lane High School.
She says that there were a number of people who impacted on her when she was young.
"Martin Luther King and his actions really had an impact on me," she said, explaining that she chose him not because it is expected of Black people to see him as a role model.
"Through all of the protests and the abuse he took, he remained vigilant in what he believed in," Lloyd-Bey said. "He taught us peace and tolerance."
She adds, however, that many of the movements of the day impacted on her life and became part of her: the Black Power Movement and the Civil Rights Movement to name only two.
Lloyd-Bey says that one of her aims as an LIS is to let the students learn about people who were significant in history but that they never hear about from traditional history books.
"There are people like Thurgood Marshall, Marion Anderson and Fannie Lou Hammer who the children really need to learn about," she says.
She hopes to develop a book list for both teachers and students that includes many Black authors, including Jesse Carney Smith, who wrote "Black First," and Nikki Giovanni.
"We have to provide the schools with the materials that they need, resource materials," she says. "The book list for Black History Month is only one of those resources."
Principal, Far Rockaway High School
Jones, who grew up in Virginia, took over the reins of Far Rockaway High School several years ago. Although it has been designated as one of the 12 most dangerous schools in New York City, many local observers say that Jones has made Far Rockaway into a much better school than it was under her predecessors.
Cheryl Jones, the principal of Far Rockaway High School, was born in Virginia and, ironically for a person who now runs a mostly-segregated school, was the first Black person to attend the all-White Hampton High School in that state.
Jones says that she had a number of role models while she was growing up in an affluent family.
Her father was one of those whom she admired.
A pediatrician, her father, Dr. George Cyprus, was a civil rights activist who sued a hospital that refused to allow him to practice because he was Black. He eventually won the suit and was admitted to practice at the hospital.
On a more global scale, Jones ad mired Martin Luther King.
"He believed in equality for everybody," Jones told The Wave. "That equality was based not on the color of a person's skin, but on what was in their heart."
"If people had listened to him on a regular basis," she adds, "The world would be a better place."
Jones says that she accepted the Far Rockaway High School post despite the school's reputation because it was nearby water.
"Growing up in Virginia, I came to love the water," she says. "I was always attracted to water. In Virginia, I lived on a peninsula. How could I turn down a job on another peninsula?"
On a more serious note, Jones relished the challenge. "I thought this school would be a challenging one," she said. "I plan to restore it to its former glory."
Principal, Beach Channel High School
David Morris is new to Beach Channel High School, taking over the school this year after the sudden resignation of Barbara Pleener.
David Morris, the newly-appointed principal of Beach Channel High School, was born in Barbados and considers himself "Caribbean-American" rather than African-American.
"I grew up in Barbados with water all around me," Morris says. "I grew up with an affinity to water that drew me to Rockaway."
Actually, Morris' older brother has lived in Rockaway for ten years and his wife's family has been in Dayton Towers for many years.
"My wife is Italian and Irish with lots of roots in Rockaway," Morris says with a laugh.
"On a small island such as the one I grew up on, people make a difference," Morris says. "Most of my role models growing up were teachers in Barbados."
He particularly remembers a geography teacher who provided a love of social studies and of becoming a teacher. "Teachers and politicians were our role models," he added. "They went through school and made something of themselves, and that made me want to do the same."
Morris hopes to restore peace and education at Beach Channel High School. He came to the school after a series of principals who were replaced, a contentious appointment process and student riots.
He hopes to bring Beach Channel High School back to its former glory, when students came from all over the city to learn at the school's Marine Biology program. Morris says that he can do that with the help of parents, students and the Region Five administration.
"Beach Channel was always perceived as an excellent school," he concludes. "My hope is that it will be perceived that way once again."