For Black History Month 2021, Pittsburgh Public Schools is honoring Black PPS parents who are essential workers. Between managing full time E-Learning with their students and working during a pandemic, these individuals are actively making black history during these unprecedented times.
Photography by Jason Cohn
Jamillah Brown works 10-hour shifts in respiratory care at a local hospital to have more time at home to support her two PPS students.The PPS graduate has one student at Pittsburgh Allegheny, a student at Pittsburgh Obama, and a son who recently graduated from Pittsburgh Obama.Ms. Brown says, “To be an active parent during E-Learning has come with its trials and concerns. It forces you to prioritize your time, while consistently preparing you for change... my children are my number one priority.”We salute Ms. Brown for being an essential worker during a global pandemic, and we thank you for choosing PPS!
The pandemic is a time to serve for PPS parents like Derek Gordon. He’s on the frontlines everyday, working in different communities to drop off food , supplies, and other resources to local families. From providing cleaning supplies, protective gear and assistance with unemployment applications, Mr. Gordon’s goal is to meet the needs of all families.
Mr. Gordon, a Family Development Specialist at UPMC Children's Hospital, has two students at Pittsburgh Obama. The Pittsburgh Peabody graduate checks in on his children daily with E-Learning while he’s at work. During this time, he is grateful for his wife, Pittsburgh Westinghouse assistant principal Dawn Gordon, who often assists with learning at home.
This Black History Month, we salute Mr. Derek Gordon!
Loreal Perry wakes up every day with one goal— to feed PPS families. She works in food service at Pittsburgh Student Achievement Center where she provides families with Grab n’ Go meals. Last year, Ms. Perry volunteered to distribute Paragon food boxes and holidays meals at six PPS schools.
During the pandemic, she has learned how to balance making sure her two PPS children at Pittsburgh Lincoln and Pittsburgh Allderdice are up and ready for remote learning and ensuring Homewood families have access to nutritious meals.
For three years, Ms. Perry has been a dedicated Pittsburgh Public Schools food service hero. This Black History Month, we pause to say thank you!
DonMiguel Watson-Ellis Sr.
As a Port Authority bus operator, DonMiguel Watson-Ellis Sr. transports essential workers to and from work during the pandemic on the 93 Lawrenceville-Hazelwood. For the past 14 years, he sees this work as an honor and privilege. But, now, more than ever he recognizes the impact of making sure other essential workers get to hospitals that's on his route safely.
A PPS graduate himself, Mr. Watson-Ellis has four PPS students— a 2014 Pittsburgh CAPA graduate, a 2020 Pittsburgh Sci-Tech graduate, a senior at Pittsburgh Sci-Tech, and an eighth grader at Pittsburgh Sci-Tech. He appreciates remote learning because it provides him with the opportunity to have more hands-on involvement in his children’s education and increased communication with teachers and staff.
Mr. Watson-Ellis, thank you for your service to this region and commitment to Pittsburgh Public Schools!
Tanika Ward Green
Tanika Ward-Green has been a home health nurse for more than seven years. She’s more than a nurse— she is a companion and provider. From cooking to physical therapy, Ms. Ward-Green provides a range of assistance for her clients in their home.
She is also the mother of a Gifted seventh grader at Pittsburgh Allegheny 6-8. Working full time and supporting her child during the pandemic has been a balancing act. Ms. Ward-Green checks in on her daughter often, and sometimes brings her to work to provide additional support with classes.
Ms. Ward-Green’s passion for nursing and dedication to remain involved in her daughter’s education is why we recognize her this Black History Month. Thank you!
Michael Clemm Jr. spends most days delivering mail in the East End. The seven-year US Postal Service letter carrier makes sure he has the energy to deliver mail and manage his three PPS kids during remote learning.
With one student at Pittsburgh Sterrett and two little ones at Pittsburgh Fulton, Mr. Clemm says that during E-Learning he's everything- educator, counselor, and cook. “I'm wearing many hats. So I am learning I have to process this as simple as possible for them.”
Mr. Clemm delivers in more ways than one. He is a devoted PPS father and an essential worker. This Black History Month, we say thank you!
Pittsburgh Dilworth social studies teacher Clifford Perkins has been a PPS educator for 18 years. He takes pride in working the frontlines and educating the next generation of leaders. Mr. Perkins hopes to lead his own PPS school one day.
He knows PPS well with four children who attended PPS schools. Currently, Mr. Perkins has a freshman and a junior at Pittsburgh Obama. His wife, Leslie, who also supports at home with remote learning, is principal at Pittsburgh West Liberty.
He says being an active parent and teacher during this time requires both patience and perseverance. “Patience when learning how to navigate through the multiple learning platforms offered by PPS with my children at home, the children I teach virtually, and the parents that are in need assistance with learning the nuances. It is a difficult and stressful time for everyone and sometimes people may want to give up and quit but we as teachers, administrators, and all essential school employees must be steadfast and united when it comes to educating our children of the PPS as safely and effectively as possible.”
Thank you, Mr. Perkins, for being both a PPS teacher and parent! We acknowledge and appreciate your devotion to both sides of the classroom.
More stories will be released as we continue celebrating Black History Month through February