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Kenley Cribb

Professor Foley


3 March 2019

The Dream Keepers Analysis

I have a dream that one day I will be able to successfully educate all of my students no

matter the color of their skin. I have a dream that I will educate these students and love them to

the best of my ability. There are many things that can be taken away from this novel such as

teaching techniques, there are also many other things that can be taken away from the wonderful

teachers included in the novel, and how the experiences in this novel allowed me to reflect on my

personal school experiences.

There were a lot of things that I was able to take away from “The Dream-Keepers” by

Gloria Ladson-Billings. I was able to realize that African Americans are at a disadvantage in the

educational system. They face struggles like unaverage poverty, persecution om daily life, and

they are unable to connect and relate with other teachers. As a future educator I have learned that

becoming “color blind,” to these students is not the answer. One of the strategies that I believe

would be useful to help avoid such blindness would be working in a primarily African American

after school program to better relate to students of color. I want to be able to involve African

American students and my other students in every day life just like Mrs. Benn. The book brought

to my attention that another important strategy would be to get involved with their families to

learn more about their everyday life. Another big thing would be to become more aware of their
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culture. Like going to different events that African American students attend to become better

associated with what they like and dislike.

I learned that the government also puts more funding into more primarily white schools

while predominantly African American schools get shafted. I myself attended a primarily

African American high school so I understand this on a more personal level. Magnet schools are

funded by the government and are given more technological resources to entice white parents to

send their students to these schools. There is also the debate whether separate schools for African

American students should exist. Knowing this I will be able to educate in a regular public school

better because I will know how to accommodate for my African American students.

Pauline Dupree was one of the teachers who had a successful impact on her students.

Ms. Dupree is an African American woman who felt the importance of presenting a professional

front to her students. She used many different techniques to make her classroom a conducive

environment for success. Ms. Dupree always dressed professionally and to the nines to show her

students the importance of dressing for success. Ms. Dupree believed that she should create a

professional and aesthetic environment for her students to be in because they may not get that

experience at home. She also made her classroom very decorated and a professional environment

for her students. She also encouraged her students to think of the teaching profession in a more

positive light. She asked her students, “Do you know how important teachers are?”, (40

Billings). Dupree asks her students this question to encourage them to consider teaching as a

profession and to help them gain a newfound respect for their teachers. She also encouraged her

students to make realistic goals about their future and taught them how to accomplish these

goals. Ms. Dupree was successful in changing the lives of her students because she made them

feel important.
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Mrs. Benn was also one of the best teachers within this novel, she was truly one of the

greats. Mrs. Benn was a church going woman and she always invited her students to Sunday

school. She made sure that her students were involved in the community and were invited to

spiritual events. She never made it a requirement, but she felt that it was her job to ensure that

children had the opportunity to experience their spiritual side. Mrs. Benn was a pastor’s wife and

felt like all of her students were her grandchildren. Mrs. Benn always pushed her students to their

very best and she expected excellence. She treated all students equally, no matter their color. She

expected excellence no matter their backgrounds or ability. Mrs. Benn also encouraged personal

responsibility and made her students take home plants over the weekend and bring them back

alive and well. She expected a lot out of her students and knew that they all could become great.

Mrs. Benn also created a classroom family by encouraging her students to be in the school and

church choir. This helped create a sense of community in her class. Mrs. Benn got to know her

students as people and not just pupils to be taught. Mrs. Benn was an effective teacher because

she genuinely loved all of her students and dedicated her life to them. I identify the most with

Mrs. Benn because she knows how important it is for her students to know that they can do great

things. It is also important to me that I introduce spirituality to my students and give them a

chance to know Jesus.

The next teacher who was an effective educator, within this novel, is Julia Devereaux.

Mrs. Deveraux was always a very busy bee and is an African American woman. She was a

catholic school teacher for many years. Her son attends a catholic school that is predominately

African American and Latino. Mrs. Deveraux always has a cluttered classroom and a over

flowing desk. Her classroom is filled to the brim with books and different things she reuses for

her students. Devearux also implanted a phone tree to keep track of students and connect with
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parents. This proved helpful when a student went missing for a couple of hours, the parents

called Mrs. Devearux, and use the phone tree to their advantage. Mrs. Deveraux was also a girl

scout leader, therefore, most of her students were in her troop. She was able to see most of her

students every day. Therefore, she had more time to make an impact on them. Deveraux was an

effective and successful teacher because she encouraged her students to be active participants in

their communities.

The last teacher, I will discuss is Ms. Ann Lewis. Ann Lewis was from a predominately

African American neighborhood. Her family was the only white family who did not participate

in white flight, therefore, she went to school to a predominately African American school. Ms.

Lewis is a sixth-grade teacher and she makes sure to spend outside time with her students. She

created a camping trip field trip for them to go on. She allowed the whole class to come camping

with her creating a sense of community. This teacher made each student feel special because she

invited them to spend time with her outside of school. She was not like some of these teachers

who get annoyed with their students and cannot stand to spend a spare minute with them. She

made them think that they were valued and that she could find no better way to spend their time


The teacher that I connected with most throughout my educational career was Mr.

Mezzatesta. He taught me history and student government all 4 years of high school. I loved Mr.

Mezzatesta because he let us call him Mezz, this created a friendship with his students. Mezz

taught at my high school, that was ninety percent African American, Mezz treated us all the

same. However, he expected more out of the African American students he knew that life was

going to be harder on them outside the four walls of our school. Mezz knew that they would be

the miniority out in the real world and he made sure they were prepared to handle whatever came
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their way. Mezz was so much more than a teacher to all of his students but especially to me.

Mezz invited us to help out with activities in the community and always made opportunities for

us. Mezz let us babysit his kids and go eat dinner at his house, it was all about creating a sense of

community to him. Mezz taught me so much about history but more about life. Mezz taught me

lessons that would never be found in a textbook. He taught me how to defend my faith and stand

my ground. He taught me that there is a reason that individuals act and do the things that they do.

He taught me about empathy and how to step in another person’s shoes but most of all he taught

me what it takes to be a great teacher. Like so many of the wonderful teachers that I have read

about within, “The Dream Keepers,” Mezz saw potential in us and went the extra mile to ensure

that we would succeed not only in the classroom but in life. I plan to use the things that Mezz

taught me in my classroom one day. I will always love my students and teach them the things

that really matter like Mezz did.

I am thankful for the experiences that I had growing up, that helped me become the

person and future educator that I am today. I learned so much from the teaching techniques,

teacher experiences, and my personal reflection. I truly have a dream that one day all children, of

all different races will gain the quality education that they deserve.
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Work Cited

Ladson-Billings, Gloria. The Dream Keepers. Jossey-Bass, 2009.