1st Grade Teacher Brings Black Excellence to the Classroom by Dressing Up as Historical Figures During Black History Month

Illustration for article titled 1st Grade Teacher Brings Black Excellence to the Classroom by Dressing Up as Historical Figures During Black History Month
Photo: Good Morning America (YouTube)

LaToya McGriff is here to make a difference.

While educators throughout the country have spent their February schooling students on the importance of historical black figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, the first-grade teacher from Suffolk, Va., has gone the extra mile of ensuring that her students have the opportunity to meet them as well.


CBS News reports that for each day during Black History Month, McGriff has brought black history to life by dressing up as each of the historical figures she teaches about.

To kick things off, her first lesson came on Feb. 3 when she showed up to class dressed up as NASA aerospace engineer Mary Jackson, who you might remember as being played by Janelle Monae in the film Hidden Figures.

“I was Mary Jackson today!” McGriff wrote on Facebook. “She was born in Hampton, Va. She was a mathematician who worked as an aeronautical engineer whom people referred to as a human computer. She was the first African American Women Engineer that played a vital role in the development of the NASA Space Program!”

Other trailblazers she’s dressed up as throughout the month included ballet dancer Misty Copeland, the American Ballet Theatre’s first black female principal dancer; educator Florence Bowser, who was instrumental in the construction of the Florence Graded School and later Florence Bowser Elementary School in Suffolk, Va.; and Dr. L.D. Britt, who was the first black doctor to receive an endowed chair in surgery at a major American medical school.

“My students will want to know who I will be tomorrow,” she told CBS News. “Today, they just said ‘Are you going to be Barack Obama? Are you going to be so-and-so?’ Because they want to know and kind of prepare themselves for it so they can tell me something they know about that person.”


Like I said, McGriff is here to make a difference, and by tapping into the imaginations of her students she’s sowing seeds that will eventually bloom into the next generation of black excellence.

You can check out her full repertoire of Black History Month transformations here.

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for y'all to stop putting sugar in grits.



I was confused by the top picture here.

Why was she dressed like Mike Bloomberg and the students wearing Ray Charles glasses?

Turns out, she dressed as Barack Obama and the kids are secret service.

Too cute and a great way to get the kids engaged in this all month long.