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Alumni Spotlight: Rasheem Moye

Moye named 2022 Teacher of the Year at Norfolk's Booker T. Washington High School

What do you enjoy most about teaching Virginia and US history at Booker T. Washington High School?

What I enjoy most about teaching VA/US History at Booker T Washington High is the community in which I serve, teach, and impart knowledge. It is unique because of the history of Booker T Washington, Norfolk, VA, and the overall role that we've played in American History. I always remind my students of the rich history that has been made here and the overall evolution of our country and the important role Norfolk, Virginia has played. The pride I take in knowing that I am responsible for introducing historical events, times, places, and ideals that in turn create lifelong learners who enjoy and care about what came before them. Another aspect of teaching I thoroughly enjoy is how students light up when they come to me about historical topics outside of my classroom, in their everyday ongoings, and relate those topics that were introduced and learned in my classroom. For example, tv shows they may have watched that depict content from Virginia and United States history and how they were able to understand the storylines better because of what they learned in my class or news stories that are easily understood because of related topics from class discussions or assignments. It may sound like a teacher cliché but when the light bulb of understanding goes off, it does give teachers the satisfaction they look for when it comes to teaching and why we got into it in the first place: a passion for teaching and people.

Are there any particular challenges when it comes to teaching history at the high school level?

Of course, there are challenges, ask any parent of a teenager! Students at the teenage development stage can be quite pessimistic and suffer from what historians may call presentism, which can be understood as understanding historical events from your present perspective and morals, instead of contextualizing and understanding the context of past events and beliefs. For example, learning about the founding fathers and understanding that some were slaveowners and frowning upon their entire life instead of understanding the complexities of the world at that time and dismissing someone from history and their life's work because you disagreed with one aspect of their life.

Another challenge is sometimes it is difficult to get teenagers to focus when they may have other social and emotional issues they're faced with. Sometimes teenagers believe that their problems are permanent until the issue is resolved and they shut down due to this instead of understanding that some goals must still be met even when unforeseen circumstances arise.

What did you enjoy most about your history education at ODU?

My favorite professors were Mr. Del Corso and Dr. Whitehurst. They were encouraging and being in their classroom, you can understand that these professors came with a lot of experience in the field of education, government, and military service. I learned a lot about how to understand history from many points of view and to corroborate sources for further understanding when it comes to being an amateur historian. I enjoyed my time in the teacher preparation program because it allowed me to get experience in the field of teaching before going full throttle as a teacher.

How does what you learned at ODU inform your teaching of History?

There are always many sides to a story! The evidence speaks for itself and allows it to do so. We all have biases but mine were checked at ODU, and I was forced to understand some ideals and beliefs that I didn't necessarily agree with some of the times.

What are some of your favorite events, trends, or persons to teach in the classroom? Are there any events, etc. that stand out to you from a teaching perspective?

One of my favorite topics to teach is the story of how the constitution was created in the United States and the number of genius mechanisms in the document that still govern us today. Teaching principles such as Checks, Balances, and Separation of Powers and their origins and reasoning.

Robert Smalls is a special person from history who has a life story for books and movies. His life is enjoyable to teach based on the many circumstances he found himself in throughout his life. From a slave to serve in the House of Representatives is quite impressive alone but maneuvering through his life was no easy task and to come out as a public servant who was born into slavery says so much of Virginia and United States history and the political, social, economic evolution of the US.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Teaching is a calling, and you must have a passion for the content and people. It's not easy and some days are frustrating but at the end of every school year, there are always more pros than cons and teaching provides me with purpose and fulfills me in my life. I truly cannot see myself doing another profession and education is a springboard into good life if you're willing to pursue it.

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