Black women educators discuss the importance of mentorship and community


Tracy Salisbury will teach Black studies and Women’s studies at the new Ethnic Studies Department Photo provided by Tracy Salisbury

Marlene Herrera , Staff Writer

Continuing the series of Black History Month events at CSU Bakersfield the Black Women Educators Panel Discussion was held on Tuesday, Feb. 16. Dr. Tracy Salisbury, who served as moderator, guided the crucial discussion while maintaining an exciting yet insightful space for everyone listening.  

The panelists included:  Dr. Bre Evans Santiago, chair of the teacher education department at CSU Bakersfield; Alexis Frink, Spanish teacher; Halima Decree, academic coach; Dr. Rhonda Dugan, sociology professor at CSU Bakersfield, and Cattrice Toles, restorative classroom teacher.   

These educators discussed critical topics such as their passion and dedication to education, cultural taxation imposed on them of added responsibilities for serving as representation, and the straining demands of the field. They highlighted the importance of hope, sisterhood, and mentorship throughout the discussion. Evans-Santiago mentioned, “I have my sisters… in this space…that I continue to learn from and grow with.”  

While discussing how Black educators have been impacted during these trying times Salisbury stated, “I take home some of my students’ struggles and the weight is heavy.” Clearly, the pandemic has only added to the overwhelming demands that Black educators already face. 

As a collective the panelists agreed that in order to lessen the burden for Black educators it is necessary to maintain an open dialogue with students, parents, and most importantly each other. Evans-Santiago stated, “We need to be together in numbers… we have the power and capacity to make change.”  

In closing, Salisbury gave thanks to everyone involved in providing a space to shine light on Black women educators. She sent a message to the Black community when she stated, “There is family in this space and on this campus.”