I’m incredibly proud to be a Black STEM educator
Aqueel is a physicist and Teach First science trainee. He’s supporting our #STEMfromBlack campaign, which showcases the powerful role teachers can play in inspiring the next generation of Black STEM experts. Here, he shares how strong Black role models helped him find his passion for teaching science.
During my GCSEs, I was lucky enough to be taught chemistry by a teacher called Dr Thompson-Davis. Not only was he a STEM teacher but he was the first Black person I had ever met who earned a PhD. He instantly gained my respect.
Over the years "TD" (what I affectionally called him) and I built not only a strong teacher-pupil relationship but also that of a mentor and mentee and, I’m proud to say, friends. Like me, TD was from Jamaica. I often spent my free time with him talking about the future, Jamaica and how he planned to retire back home and start a chicken farm.
During sixth form, while studying for my A-Levels, I spent my free time with him in his classroom helping him teach lessons. It was in that moment I realised I had a talent, and more importantly a passion, for educating people. I knew that at some point in my life I would become an educator.
In early May 2020, Dr Thompson-Davis passed away due to complications with COVID. The news of this hit me, and many of his old pupils, very hard. Around the same time, I saw an advert online for Teach First. Remembering him and his lessons made me realise that I want to have the same impact on other pupils that he did on me. At that moment, I became a Black STEM teacher.
Without the example set by so many excellent Black influences in my life, like Dr Thompson-Davis, I would not be the young Black man I am today. I would not have found or pursued my passions for physics. And I would not have the passion to further uplift my community as my predecessors did for me.
That’s why Teach First’s goal to increase the numbers of Black STEM teachers is so important. Without these role models and influences present in key moments of my, and other young Black people’s lives, we would not be able to achieve the immense potential that we have as a community.
Interested in making a difference like Aqueel? Join our Training Programme today: