When Jerome Price graduated from Denison University in 2012, he had no doubt where his career path lay. “Education is the civil rights issue of this generation,” says Price, who headed to Washington D.C. to serve as a member of the Teach for America corps.
“When I arrived on Denison’s campus as a freshman, I knew that I wanted to teach,” said Price, whose first-grade teacher kindled the fire in him. “Why I wanted to teach became more apparent during my education.”
At Denison, his work as an America Reads tutor allowed him to see up-close the disparities that persisted between young children in Newark and Granville. “As a tutor, I witnessed how poverty and wealth impact student achievement. I knew that these two economic realities should not determine attainment. The experience pushed me to recognize that education was a civil rights issue.”
Price’s tenure as a member of the Teach for America corps was empowering and helped lay the foundation for the teacher he wanted to become. In addition to his undergraduate degrees in history and black studies at Denison, he completed a Masters of Education degree at George Mason University to become a change-maker in education.
He notes that educational disparities are stubborn and continue to exist between the academic achievement of Latino and African American students and their White and Asian American counterparts.
“I teach history at a culturally diverse public middle school in Rockville, Maryland. I want to positively impact the achievement gap at my middle school. This past spring, I met with my principal and a school counselor to propose and develop the Jaguar Scholars Leadership Program,” said Price. The student-driven organization (JSLP) brings together some-30 high-achieving 7th- and 8th-grade African American and Latino students.
“I want to positively impact the achievement gap at my middle school.“ — Jerome Price '12, teacher
“My scholars meet weekly and have a voice. I am proud to say that they have worked to create a project that addresses and may help close the achievement gap at our school.” The students have also traveled to City Hall and met with the Mayor and other local elected officials.
“Next month, my scholars will tour Georgetown University and meet some of its current African American and Latino student leaders. The opportunity to connect the leaders of today with the leaders of tomorrow is priceless,” he added.
Another sign of his aptitude — Price was awarded the Milton Wolf Prize in teaching from Centropa, a Jewish historical institute based in Vienna, Austria. The funded recognition is given to a talented teacher who builds a lesson plan around the history of humanitarian aid in Sarajevo, where the Jewish community humanitarian aid society, La Benevolencija, opened their synagogue to their neighbors – Muslims, Serbs, Croats – to work together during the Bosnian war (1993-1995) to help one another survive.
“Jerome stood out for his intellectual curiosity about the relationship between educational institutions and student achievement,” said Toni King, associate professor of black studies. “He was always interested in what schools could do to help students overcome the achievement gap and he worked across both of his majors to answer those questions. Moreover, he was a bridge builder and peacemaker in everything he did.”
For Price, his work is part of an on-going effort to make a difference for his students. “After considering a number of options, my scholars voted on a JSLP motto. A phrase coined by one of our members, ‘Current Students, Future Leaders,’ won. This motto inspires me and answers the question of why I teach.”
See Price's Jaguar Scholars in action: