Mr. Mandla Stelly

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Mr. Mandla Stelly

            I was born and raised in a poverty-stricken, low income, African-American community in Omaha, Nebraska. My mother was born and raised in South Africa during Apartheid and received a scholarship to attend college here in the U.S. My father was raised near Oakland, California during the height of the Black Power movement and has always been active in the liberation of African-Americans. My mother and father met at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (where I currently teach Intro to Black Studies online). They received graduate degrees and got married. They separated when I was two years old, right after the birth of my younger brother.

            I remember coming up through elementary, middle, and high schools and how students (including myself) were easily bored. As a result, I want to make learning a fun, exciting, and engaging experience for students. This led me to wanting to teach social studies in middle or high schools that serve low income families. I’ve witnessed and lived through high rates of poverty, gang culture, joblessness, and drugs that are common in low income communities. I have first-hand knowledge and experience with these conditions which have led me to pursue higher education and to make the world a better place, particularly in the education arena.

            One thing my parents instilled in all their children is the importance of education. When I was seventeen, I moved to Denver, Colorado where I lived for ten years. At eighteen, I enrolled myself in community college for a semester and got my first taste of higher learning and enjoyed the experience. It wouldn’t be until 2013 when I would restart my academic journey as a non-traditional student. I wanted to pursue a career I love waking up to everyday, one that gives me pride and am passionate about. The real-world experience and education I received prior to officially entering academia increased my determination to achieve success. This determination led to me graduating Magna Cum Laude (3.75 undergrad GPA).

           My academic quest thus far has already enhanced my understanding immensely. During my senior year as an undergrad, I decided to go to graduate school to pursue teaching or counseling in some capacity. I went to South Africa for six weeks during the summer of 2017. That experience coupled with getting my Bachelor’s degree in Black Studies made me realize what I can achieve if I believe.

           For years, Twin Cities has been a place where I’ve always wanted to live for numerous reasons, including the demographic diversity and the weather. My plan is to become a permanent fixture in this community and to continue being productive in the teaching/education realm. I am excited that I’ve embraced and seized the moment of this positive change in my life and am looking forward to a promising future.

           I would like to be in a position where I can teach history/social studies. I generally find social studies both fascinating and exciting, so my aim is to teach this subject in the same manner. In my opinion, it is the ability to engage which is a key component to producing positive results academically.

           I am seeing more and more kids drop out of school and this saddens me. I am convinced that the prospects for future teachers and renewed optimism in our 21st century public school system are promising. As my purpose in life is to teach with the ultimate goal of educating all people for the greater good, I am willing to do anything including sacrifice and struggle to achieve this objective. 

           One area of concern from my worldview is the school to prison pipeline in communities similar to my own upbringing. I have nieces, nephews, and younger cousins currently in middle and high school and the stories I hear from them are at times disheartening. Statistics show that young students of color are disproportionately suspended and expelled from school. As a society, we still have an uphill battle with regards to being culturally sensitive to students from all ethnic backgrounds and walks of life. This sensitivity is something I want to bring to the classroom. I feel this can increase human relations while broadening one’s point of view towards attunement.

           Black Studies majors concentrate on “race” and it’s effects/outcomes. As an anti-racism educator with an advocacy disposition, I seek to maintain high expectations for all students while being considerate of all cultures and ethnicities. With a minor in Sociology, I have learned to value unique and diverse learning styles each young scholar brings to the classroom. I believe this should be our aim as teachers. I achieved receiving a Master's in Education and am currently looking to get a Ph.D in the same field. I am certain that I bring a life experience that can translate to progress in the school system with the willingness to learn more. An approach to further diversifying teachers in our school system is an idea most of us understand and with the lack of African-American male teachers, I am prepared to pick up some of the slack. I am of the mentality that this is bigger than me and that this is for the greater good of our world, nation, and citizens. My purpose in life is to teach.