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‘It’s all of our history’ | NEISD celebrates Black History Month

The sweet sound of music echoed in the library at Camelot Elementary School.

The storytelling room on campus was converted into a pop-up museum.

Students come in to hear the music, answer trivia questions, and pick up a book.

“I think the music is what draws them in here,” school librarian Yolanda Benavides said.

The walls were filled with trivia and posters celebrating the extraordinary people of our time.

Wilma Payne has been the principal of Camelot Elementary for ten years. She was previously a teacher on campus as well for eleven years.

She said the books in the museum help students recognize the great contributions made by African Americans in our country. 

“Black history is important because it’s all of our history,” she said.  

As an African American woman herself, she is a shining example of a role model for the students around her.

“Black history represents a great majority of our kids that are here at Camelot Elementary School. I’ve had the privilege of working at Camelot over 21 years and being an African American principal, I feel that I can be a role model to a lot of our students that are here,” she said.  

Benavides said she enjoyed playing a variety of music for the kids.

“We have Ella Fitzgerald over here; we have Louie Armstrong; we have Marion Sanderson, the first African American woman that sang at the Met Opera,” she explained.

She said she likes when the students gravitate towards the biography novels.

“I’m a big advocate on students reading biographies because a lot of times they can connect and say ‘well they didn’t have that perfect life but look at where they are at.’ How they reacted to the adversities in their lives and rose above them,” she said.

Third-graders Elijah and Sha’Myah grabbed books about LeBron James and Barack Obama and then answered questions about some of the more historical figures.

“I will not give up my seat, what Civil Rights’ activist am I? You are Rosa Parks,” 10-year-old Elijah said.

“Since I wasn’t born when they had the Civil Rights, it’s really important to know about people’s history and we can learn about people who did nice things for our country,” Sha’Myah added.

“I’ve learned about Martin Luther King; I learned about Frederick Douglass; I learned about Harriet Tubman,” Elijah explained.

It’s a reflection, old and new, to educate our next generation of leaders.

“It’s a way for them to think about their own lives and where they are going. What great role models in these notable people that have made a difference,” Benavides said.

Discover the NEISD way, where our educators and students celebrate individual differences every day. 

Ashley Speller