SHEKEMA H. SILVERI
Education Meets Innovation
Inspiring a new generation
of leaders and teachers
Shekema Silveri is the visionary and co-founding Executive Director of Silveri Service Learning Academy (SSLA) in Atlanta, Georgia. The mission of SSLA is to inspire a new generation of leaders and teachers to become ethical, global citizens through critical literacy, culturally responsive pedagogy, and service learning. The vision of SSLA is to become an international school of excellence by training our nation's next generation of educators through the newest advances in digital literacy and by promoting global citizenship through teaching as a profession. Bryan K. Murray, Community Service Coordinator at Georgia State University's Alonzo A. Crim Center for Urban Educational Excellence, has called Silveri "a one-woman early warning system." As such, Silveri was awarded the 2012 Champion of Ed Reform Under 40 by the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO).
Rooted firmly in the belief that schools are the backbone of every community, Silveri also understands that our efforts to improve the lives of students can only be achieved by simultaneously improving the quality of everything that concerns them. After all, what sense does it make to liberate students' minds if their bodies are still imprisoned in poverty, violence, and urban decay? That's why SSLA is grounded in a 4-Point Community Renewal Plan, which is designed to serve its surrounding community by providing citizens with educational and economic resources they need to lead socially-just, economically-viable lives. For more about SSLA, please visit our website: www.silveriacademy.org.
In her current position as English teacher, Silveri is a natural leader at Mt. Zion High School in Jonesboro, Georgia. Bringing to the table an extensive community service background and first-rate academic credentials, Silveri employs multi-layered instruction and well-defined practices, all in a school with a large Title I student population. In the classroom, Silveri’s students produce evidence of learning, justify their perspectives, evaluate their reasoning and set their future goals. As part of her well-rounded approach to instruction, Silveri integrates multimedia into her lessons, using websites and blogs as well as shooting and editing video. Via these methods, Silveri’s students not only learn the information but also understand the pedagogy behind it. Silveri’s use of classroom technology has been featured on CNN’s Perry’s Principles and the NY Times “Room for Debate” series.
Silveri’s pupils have posted a 100 percent passing rate on the Georgia High School Graduation Test and the American Literature End of Course Test for three consecutive years. Having obtained both gifted and ESOL endorsements , Silveri boasts of six AP classes that are all filled to capacity and include both ESOL students and students who are not normally on an honors or AP track.
These distinctions, among others, earned Silveri the 2011 Milken Educator Award for the state of Georgia. Dubbed by Teacher Magazine as the “Oscars of Teaching,” the Milken Educator Awards are “the nation's preeminent teacher recognition program, having honored more than 2,500 K-12 teachers, principals and specialists coast to coast with over $63 million in individual, unrestricted $25,000 awards. Awardees are heralded in early to mid-career for what they have achieved… and for the promise of what they will accomplish in the future” (http://www.mff.org/mea/). In 2012, Silveri became the first African American—and the first woman of color—to receive the prestigious honor of Lowell Milken Center Fellow. The Lowell Milken Center (LMC) Fellowship is “awarded each year on the basis of merit to those educators who have distinguished themselves in teaching understanding and respect through project-based learning. Fellows must demonstrate the relevance of education to their long-term career goals and potential in enhancing their contributions to society” (http://lowellmilkencenter.org). To date, only 15 educators have received this honor.
BEYOND THE VEIL