Akili 7th grade ELA teacher Ces Matthews, known as “Matthews”, is a graduate of The Florida State University where they earned a joint degree in Political Science and Sociology. (Matthews uses the gender-neutral pronouns “they” and “them.”) Matthews has known for a long time that they could make an impact on their community through education. “I am a firm believer in equality, equity, and access, and I believe education provides that for all people when given fair and comprehensive learning opportunities,” they said. “My band director was my saving grace and he spoke so highly of education and why Black individuals should teach. I had multiple internships focused on education and grew to love the field and the possibility of having my own classroom.”
Jasmine Archangel, 6-8 Director of Curriculum and Instruction, has seen firsthand how Matthews strives both inside and outside of the classroom to make sure students both succeed academically and know their worth. “Matthews encourages scholars to know their history. Matthews constantly gives scholars facts from the past, to keep them abreast of how history shapes the present.”
Sharing this history, and keeping their students involved on current events, is one of Matthews’s favorite parts of their job, “It is rewarding when I am able to have conversations about the real world and how my students connect with what we are currently working on.”
Matthews has a passion for getting not only their students involved, but also their colleagues at Akili Academy. “One my favorite memories with Matthews is when they developed the Akili cheer for the 2017-2018 academic year. It was one of the first times seeing them in their element of so much enthusiasm,” says Jasmine. “The entire staff was hyped up because of Matthews’s enthusiasm; everyone wanted to get up and mimic what Matthews was doing. This helped us win the cheer competition.”
In their first year of education, Matthews credits a lot of their growth to the feedback they have received. “I have learned so much about myself. I am challenged every single day, past the point of what I am used to, but this motivates me to keep working towards excellence.”
“Matthews seeks out feedback to grow and refuses to be complacent in their growth as a teacher. They have specific questions to improve their teaching, to impact scholars, and they seek out any and all persons who can assist in their growing,” says Jasmine.
“Matthews refuses to let scholars give anything less than their best. They call parents; they hold teacher and student conferences during scholars’ free time. All of this ensures scholars understand the level of excellence they must exhibit at all times in Matthews’s class and in life,” adds Jasmine.
Matthews’s scholars would agree that Matthews is constantly pushing them towards success.
“Matthews is always calm. Matthews is a great teacher because they explain things to us until we understand. It doesn’t matter if it takes a day, a week, or months,” says 7th grader Damonte.
You can check out Matthews, and all of the Akili staff, doing their 2017-2018 cheer here.