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Metro Atlanta educator uses periodic table to teach, celebrate Black History

“Having more installations like this, kind of put people who are marginalized students or people in our community at the forefront,” student Ezinna Ononuju said.

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — In a hallway of Cambridge High School in Fulton County are names posted on the wall you may recognize.

Each name represents an element.  The elements that altogether make up the black history periodic table.

“Our principal kind of charged teachers with coming up a lesson plan to incorporate black history into the classroom. So, I was thinking what I can do to contribute to that,” said Tonekia Phairr.

Phairr is an administrator at Cambridge High.  She landed on the idea after combing through social media.

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“Black history is something that should be important no matter what race you are.  It’s a good conversation to have,” she mentioned.

Phairr also had a little help from a few students.

“Ms. Phairr had asked if I wanted to help out and I’ve been seeing it in the hallway.  I would see it in the hallway, but it wasn’t finish.  So, I helped her finish it and so I thought it was really cool,” said Lexy Williams, senior at Cambridge High.

The black history periodic table serves as bridge between generations from James Earl Jones to Issa Rae to Oprah.

“My favorite person that list is Shirley Chisholm,” Ezinna Ononuju, junior at Cambridge High, stated.

“When you look at Alvin Ailey of course you got bring in Misty Copeland.  Being the first African American lead at the New York City ballet,” Phairr said.

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She has made it where teachers from all subjects can incorporate the periodic table into their lesson plans.

“Having more installations like this that kind of put people who are marginalized students or marginalized people in our community at the forefront and saying hey, your contributions are important,” Ononuju explained.

“I just hope that they can just appreciate the fact that it’s not just focusing in on the same people that they’ve probably heard about since elementary school,” mentioned Phairr.


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