By Deborah Bailey, Special to the AFRO

LaQuisha Hall, English language arts teacher at Carver Vocational Technical High School has been named Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS), Teacher of the Year for the 2018-2019 school year. She is the first African American to be honored in five years in a system where more than 80 percent of the students are Black. Ketia Stokes, a special education teacher at Green Street Academy, was the last African American teacher named teacher of the year in 2013.

The teacher and life coach has spent her career in BCPS creating inclusive and motivating ways to share the fundamentals of writing as well as the fundamentals of life with students at Carver, as well as her former students at Rosemont Elementary/Middle School, Forest Park High School, and Booker T. Washington Middle School, all in West Baltimore.

LaQuisha Hall, is the first Black Baltimore City Public Schools teacher honored as “Teacher of the Year,” in five years. (Courtesy Photo)

For many, Hall is an example of perseverance and a reminder that painful chapters in life can be transformed for a greater purpose.

“I came to Baltimore straight from college. I had some challenges in my childhood. I am a survivor of abuse and left home when I was 16. I was a ward of the State ,” Hall told the AFRO.

After completing her undergraduate degree at Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina, Hall was ready for a fresh start.

“Because I was on my own, I was looking for opportunities when I left college,” Hall said. After discovering that Morgan State University had a master’s program that would allow her to teach while earning her graduate degree, Hall packed her bags for Baltimore and never looked back.

Hall, is also founder of the Queendom T.E.A. (The Etiquette Academy), a mentoring program for young women, where she works with students at Carver and schools across Baltimore city and county to help   their development of etiquette, life skills and confidence through workshops, conferences and distinctive projects.

She is open about the challenges she survived and uses her past trials to encourage students facing serious troubles of their own. “Even after being broken, you can be made whole again with a little heat,” she said.

Carver Educational Associate Andrew Motaung said the teacher of the year honor for Hall is an accomplishment for the entire school.

“We’ve been having all these people come into our school to find out what we are doing here, what kind of support system we have here at Carver for LaQuisha to win this honor,” Motaung said.

“For a change, we’re in the spotlight for something positive, so it’s an honor for the school in many ways.”

Hall said her everyday formula for connecting with her students is simple. “I believe that I am a queen and the females around me are queens and the males are kings.  I remind my students of that daily,” Hall said.

“One of the biggest things for me is having humor in the classroom.  Students know they can laugh with me and know they can also talk with me if something serious is going on.”

BCPS CEO Sonya Santilesis surprised Hall and the Carver family by making the teacher of the year announcement in person recently.

“LaQuisha Hall’s passionate commitment to giving students a voice, to empowering them to believe in their right to make their voices heard, and to helping them develop the necessary skills to share their voices is evident in everything she does,” said Dr. Santelises.

Hall now represents Baltimore in the 2018-19 Maryland State Teacher of the Year competition. The winner of Maryland’s competition will represent the state at the National Teacher of the Year level.

Motaung said that Carver will work on a platform for the community to show support for Hall.

“We’re proud of LaQuisha for representing not just the teachers, not just our school, but for representing our people,” said Motaung.