Teachers recognize Black innovators in their fields of study

February 8, 2022

In honor of Black History Month in February, The Devils Advocate asked the faculty and staff to share an individual who inspires them and/or made notable contributions in their respective areas of instruction.


Amanda Gorman // submitted by Ms. Kinee, English teacher

Amanda Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. History,  a favorite of English teacher Ms. Kinee. Gorman wrote “The Hill We Climb” which was performed at the 2021 inauguration,  in which inspired millions. Gorman alsorecently wrote an essay for the New York Times titled: “Why I Almost Didn’t Read My Poem at the Inauguration,” in which she spoke of the many fears she experienced leading up to the event. In this essay, she advised: “Do not fear your fear.” At just 23 years old, Gorman embodies all that’s hopeful for the future of America



Emma Amos // submitted by Mr. Toothman, art teacher

Emma Amos was Mr. Toothman’s professor at Mason Gross School of Art twice. His classes with her consisted of  “Figure Drawing” and “Arts/Crafts/Designs Connections”. Even with all her accomplishments, Toothman wrote that “she never came across as too big to relate to her students.” She was always a very down to earth, everyday person. She once said, “Every time I think about color, it’s a political statement.” Amos created boldly colorful and unique works that explore the aspects of how race and gender play a part in everyday American life. Amos’s works also investigate the ideas of identity and privilege. They even unsettle the lines between figuration and abstraction, craft and fine art, beauty and power. Besides being an artist and educator, Amos was also an activist, and former TV writer and host.


 Maya Angelou // submitted by Mr. Pangia, English teacher

Maya Angelou is a writer/poet who inspires English teacher Mr. Pangia with her talent as well as her wisdom. Her poem “Where I Belong” is a favorite of both Mr. Pangia and his wife. Maya was able to use her excellent writing to advance the rights of otherwise ignored people. She was awarded the National Medal of Arts in the year 2000 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010. During the 1960s, Angelou began working with Martin Luther King, Jr.. They promoted the Southern Christian Leadership Conference through her role as Northern Coordinator as well.



James McBride // submitted by Ms. Griess, English teacher

James McBride was the son of a white Jewish woman and an African American man. His piece, The Color of Water, was on The New York Times bestseller list for two years and explored McBride’s search for identity. Ms. Griess loved The Color of Water the first time she read it, and she was obsessed with his true life story of identity, belonging, childhood memories, and race. He has written many other novels and screenplays. As a creative writer herself, this English teacher also really appreciates the way he approaches the art of writing. He currently resides in Lambertville, New Jersey only an hour and twenty minutes from Hammonton.




Jesse Owens // submitted by Coach Flaim, physical education and health teacher

Coach Flaim looks up to Jesse Owens, an African American who grew up in Cleveland. He was a frail child who was often sick with chronic bronchial congestion and pneumonia. At the young age of seven he was picking up to 100 pounds of cotton a day to help out his family. Jesse Owens’ athletic career began in high school when he won three track and field events at the 1933 National Interscholastic Championships.

He later broke one world record and then three others before qualifying and competing in the 1936 Olympics. He became the first person ever to win four gold medals at one time in Olympic track history. He won gold medals in the long jump, the 100- and 200- meter dashes, and the 4×100-meter relay at the 1936 Berlin Summer Games. Owens was only 22 when he became an Olympic phenomenon. During WORLD WAR II, the U.S. Office of Civilian Defense appointed Owens as a national fitness program for African Americans in 1942. He traveled around the nation holding fitness clinics, promoting the war effort, and advocating for children.



Kenneth & Mamie Clark // submitted by Mr. Barbagallo, psychology teacher

Mr. Barbagallo, a psychology teacher, finds that the study done by Kenneth and his wife Mamie Clark was quite fascinating. They created the “doll study” in which shows how perception of ones self was influenced by segregation in schools. People failed to see how segregating students into different schools damaged the psyche of children, more specifically the mind at critical periods necessary in childhood development.  This study helped individuals process the detrimental effects of segregation on children of color in schools. Because of this study, and other ones that were racially motivated, we learned of the “stereotype bias” when it comes to intelligence. He also earned the first title of president in the American Psychological Association.



Whoopie Goldberg // submitted by Ms. Inemer, special education teacher

Whoopie Goldberg is a famous actress, comedian, and talk show host who has dyslexia. This made reading scripts and writing books, which are needed for her occupation, very hard for her. Goldberg found it easier to have someone read to her so she could memorize the lines for her scripts than attempting to read them. For her books, she dictates instead of writing before sitting down with an editor to adjust the language. She is one of few people to win an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony award. Ms. Inemer finds she is an inspirational to many and shows that you can become highly successful even if you have a severe learning disability.



Langston Hughes // submitted by Ms. Redrow, supervisor of Language Arts and Social Studies

Langston Hughes is an American writer who became highly successful with his poetry about African American life during the Harlem Renaissance. Writers can be influential to a variety of audiences that carry through decades as they express themselves for who they are and struggles they face. As an English educator and adviser, Ms. Redrow, supervisor of English and Social Studies, strives to help students find their voice to share who they are and what is happening in their world to inspire others like Langston does. Use writing as a tool to share who you are, as it’s all part of your story!


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