Virtual Tour of The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery

Our elementary students put their detective skills to the test during our virtual tour of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C, a historic museum whose collections focus on many famous Americans.

Alongside specially trained gallery educators, our young portrait detectives searched for and analyzed clues to learn more about historically significant Americans. Additionally, through discussion, sketching, and writing activities, our students were able to closely compare and contrast portraits used across the collection.

Each class in our elementary school is named after a person that represents African or Hispanic culture. Furthermore, our kids have been studying influential people of color related to this year’s academic theme of identity and anti-racism such as Celia Cruz, John Lewis, AOC, Barack Obama, Kobe Bryant, and more. Using the National Portrait Gallery programming as a guide, and artist Kehinde Wiley as inspiration, our kids created their own portraits and showcased them in our annual Black History Month Showcase!

Student programs like Portrait Detectives are offered by The National Portrait Gallery with the goal being to expose students to leaders who have shaped our nation through the power of portraiture. Combined with Hyde’s programming, it allowed us to teach our students the importance of leaving a legacy by exploring identity through art!

Black History Month Spotlight: Virtual Career Panel Series

During this year’s Black History Month, Hyde’s high school students have been attending weekly virtual career panels which showcase professionals of color. These events feature panelists who each exemplify excellence in varying fields, from science and healthcare to law and journalism. Each panelist speaks about their experiences as a Black, Latinx, or Native American professional in the US and answers questions about their careers asked by Hyde’s high schoolers and student moderators.

On February 10th, biomedical and human factors engineer, Patience Osei spoke to Hyde students about her experience as a Black woman in STEM by highlighting the importance of self-confidence and vigor. “You’re in a room filled with white men, and you just have to be confident and remember that you’re just as capable,” explained Patience. When describing her work ethic over the years, she spoke of the unjust truth which is that, too often, minorities must work immensely harder than the majority to fill the same positions and receive the same level of recognition. With this in mind, Patience emphasized “If you have that grit within you, you can still push forward.”

Jennifer Saint-Preux also joined the events as a panelist representing Black women in law. As the first attorney in her family, Jennifer worked hard to receive mentorship in the legal field by seeking out lawyers to network with. This mention of networking sparked a valuable conversation about the importance of connections and networking in the professional world. Hyde students expressed curiosity by asking questions about the hows, whens, and whys of networking, prompting Jennifer to note, “Networking is hard and awkward. Your teachers are people you can network with. Be present and engaged with figuring out what their interests and hobbies are… It costs nothing to be kind.”

Armani Harris (‘22), a student moderator of the panels, reflected on the events when stating, “Something that stood out to me is when the panelists were telling their stories it spoke to me and it was telling me to just go out there and get it on my own without a handout.” As Armani suggests, each panelist has offered invaluable advice which exemplifies the power of perseverance within communities of color. Informative events such as these which center around skills in networking and a strong work ethic prove to be essential towards supporting both the educational and professional growth of our students.

After providing motivating words of wisdom, the panelists made sure to conclude by emphasizing the importance of being kind and true to yourself when looking towards the future. “Nobody knows what they’re doing… ” explained Jennifer Saint-Preux, “… and it’s ok to cry, just pick yourself back up again.”

The Elementary School’s Virtual Black History Month Showcase

Students Dijme Sissoko (top left), Camila De Paz (Top Right), and Dorian Johnson (Center) presenting their student projects.

Celebrating Black History Past, Present, and Future.

In our first Virtual Black History Month Showcase our K-3 students and staff came together to celebrate black excellence in the past, present and future.

This year we celebrated the many contributions of influential black leaders using guiding principles of creativity, purpose, self-determination, and unity to inspire our students’ projects. We learned a lot about these figures through student made book covers, magazines, videos, portraits, and speeches. Some of the figures included, Jackie Robinson, Barack Obama, Kobe Bryant, Harriet Tubman, Ruby Bridges, Michelle Obama, Mae Jemison, Bessie Col, Rosa Parks and many more. 

We had performances from our very own Hyde Choir, Hip-hop Dance Club, Hyde Elementary Dance Company, and even a special guest appearance from Dj Kool Herc! Our students worked so hard on their projects. It was so heartwarming and amazing to see how much our students have learned this February, and how their love of learning, incredible creativity, and EXCELLENCE shined throughout the showcase.

“I learned that it’s not just for Black History Month, it’s about honoring the people before us.”

– Quran Bell, 3rd grader.