In The Spotlight Today: Kwame Sarfo-Mensah!
Tell me about yourself! How old are you, and where are you from?
My name is Kwame Sarfo-Mensah and I am 35 years old. Both of my parents are from Ghana, West Africa but I grew up in the United States. I was born in Springfield, MA but spent most of my childhood in Bloomfield, CT. I am a proud graduate of Temple University, where I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics and a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education.
Give us a summary of your book!
The main function of "Shaping the Teacher Identity" is to guide the reader through a self-exploration of their life and help them extract the inherent qualities that uniquely define who they are as educators. This book is for aspiring educators, seasoned educators, parents, and community activists who are committed to changing the face of urban education in America.
What inspired you to write this book?
In recent years, I have become increasingly frustrated with the state of our public education system in Boston and beyond. As a seasoned educator, I saw that I had a moral obligation to write this book and inspire a new generation of teachers to get involved in the never-ending fight for equity and justice in our public education system. Ultimately, I wrote this book as a response to the many challenges and frustrations that come with being an urban educator within the public school system.
If you could pick one song to describe this book, what would it be?
I really love this question!! It took me a few days to think of the perfect song to describe this book. When I think about the content of this book, the first word that comes to mind is “revolutionary”. I can’t think of a more revolutionary song that speaks to the ills of our nation’s public education system than “They School” by Dead Prez. In the song, they touch on the school-to-prison pipeline and the absence of culturally responsive teaching practices in our classrooms.
As you know, these specific issues negatively impact our most marginalized and underrepresented populations in this country, which are children of African-American and Latino descent. My hope is that this book will spark a revolutionary culture of social activism that is highly necessary to address the challenges within our maligned public education system once and for all. Our young people and their families are depending on us. We must mobilize and embrace the challenge of being the voice for the voiceless. Their stories need to be heard and we, as educators, must do everything in our power to champion the causes that matter. We can no longer watch our public education system crumble from the sidelines. We are in a state of emergency and have been for a very long time. If we remain idle in our efforts, our students and families will continue to be vulnerable to injustice and inequity.
Have you written any fiction novels as well? If not, would you and what genre?
I have not written any fiction novels yet but if I did, it would be a realistic fiction children’s book. The subject matter would focus on racial and cultural identity.
What are two of your favorite books? Least favorite?
Two of my personal favorites are “I Choose to Stay” by Salome Thomas-EL and “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster. I honestly can’t think of one specific book that is my least favorite. In general, I have a difficult time getting through books that have very dry content and have extremely small print.
Do you have any other hobbies, or businesses that you would like to share?
I am a karaoke fanatic! I just love to perform! My favorite songs to perform are typically within the hip-hop, R&B, and pop genres. I’m a huge fan of the late 80’s and early 90’s new jack swing era. Some of my favorite artists of that time include Michael Jackson, Al B. Sure and New Edition. I’ll even bust a move or two if I feel inspired enough!
Do you have any upcoming book specials/giveaways or events?
I have a couple of book signing/author talk events coming up later this year: 1) Trident Booksellers & Café, 338 Newbury St, Boston, MA 02115 – Thursday, April 4th, 2019, 5:30-7:30pm
2) Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books, 5443 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19144 – Saturday May 25th, 2019, 2:00-4:00pm
For anyone who is in the North Carolina area, I will be doing a teacher workshop at the “Let’s Talk Racism” Conference held at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) in Durham. That will take place on Saturday, March 23rd, 2019 from 9:00am-4pm.
How can readers keep up with you? Post your social media usernames!
Readers can visit my Identity Talk website (http://www.identitytalk4educators.com ). They can also follow me on the following social media platforms:
Facebook - @identitytalk4educators
Twitter - @identityshaper
Instagram - @kwam_the_identity_shaper
Anything else you would like to share?
If anyone is interested in having me speak or conduct a professional development workshop at your school, college, community center, or bookstore, please contact the Event Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org. There are still dates open!! More events will be added to the schedule as they are confirmed.
Check out his book, available now on Amazon! https://www.amazon.com/Shaping-Teacher-Identity-Lessons-Define/dp/1723480835/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?keywords=shaping+the+teacher+identity&qid=1551503926&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmrnull
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