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Word in Black includes professor on list of influential Black women educators

  |   Kathryn Kao   |   Permalink   |   Kudos,   Spotlight,   Students and Faculty

Cheryl Fields-Smith, professor and graduate coordinator in the department of educational theory and practice, was recently recognized by Word in Black as one of 12 influential Black women in education.

Founded in 2021, Word in Black is a national newsroom led by a collaboration of Black publishers, including AFRO News, The Atlanta Voice, Dallas Weekly, Seattle Medium, Washington Informer and more.

“I am deeply overwhelmed in seeing my name listed among these amazing educators, including my own highly esteemed dissertation chair, Vanessa Siddle Walker,” said Fields-Smith. “I’m grateful that the author has valued my work to the extent of positioning me among such incredible mavericks.”

Under the guidance of Emory University professor Siddle Walker, Fields-Smith explored family engagement from the perspective of 22 Black middle-class families, which solidified her research interest in homeschooling among Black families.

After completing her doctoral studies at Emory, Fields-Smith received a Spencer Foundation Grant to conduct a two-year study focused on homeschooling among 46 Black families.

From this study, she published several journal articles and chapters, including the first empirically based publication to focus exclusively on Black homeschool families.

“My hope is that research on Black home education raises questions regarding who homeschools and why,” said Fields-Smith. “Research on Black homeschooling has implications for traditional schools and not necessarily in an adversarial tone. Many Black parents choose homeschooling as a second choice for their children. Their first choice is traditional schooling, but traditional schools need to improve.”

Black parents have constructive ideas for improving schools in ways that value all children, added Fields-Smith.

“Ultimately, this work provides a counter narrative to deficit-thinking regarding Black parents’ care for, and engagement in, their children’s education,” she said. “This also shows that Black children are capable of much more than we often give them the opportunity to demonstrate.”

In addition to her research articles, Fields-Smith is also the author of “Exploring Single Black Mothers’ Resistance Through Homeschooling” and co-editor of “Homeschooling Black Children in the U.S.: Contemporary Perspectives on Black Homeschooling.”

© University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602