In August 1999, I walked into Freshman Honors English class. My professor was truly a master at his craft, a gentleman from whom I had the pleasure of learning for two concurrent semesters.
Professor Braithwaite wrote To Sir, With Love, which I read for the first time in his class at 18, and leaned upon many times years later, during my hardest days as an educator. Although I was a Radio-TV-Film major while in his class, his stories about teaching inspired me, and no doubt influenced my decision to seek alternative certification soon after graduation.
Professor Braithwaite allowed us to write about topics of our choice, and made learning fun. Looking back on papers from that class, I can see exactly how much I grew as a writer freshman year.
He showed us the ropes of publishing, as he had our class make an anthology of our work. Everyone contributed a story, and at the end, we had built a strong community, and had assembled quite a collection. It is still sitting on my parents’ coffee table. I also remember his generosity, as he took the entire class out to lunch in DC to celebrate our achievement.
Even more powerful, Professor Braithwaite shared his story. He was very transparent as he told us about the obstacles he faced as an educator, especially the racism directed towards him as a Black teacher in London in the 1940s. Hearing how he was able to achieve all he did, even when forced to navigate such a hostile climate, was inspiring.
There are so many things that I can no longer remember, so it says a lot that my time with Professor Braithwaite is so vivid. Thanks to an amazing educator, and cheers to a life well-lived.