SĀHGE Academy’s most valuable asset is our human resources. Teachers, next to students, are the source of our existence and a sustainability factor of our success. Teacher and parent are interchangeable terms amongst the families that make up the SĀHGE community. We acknowledge that parents are their children’s first and primary educator, trusting us to support the development of their children’s mind, spirit and character. SĀHGE Academy expects educators to apply their original and dynamic ideas to bolster students’ personal growth, intellectual achievement and civic literacy.
Our instructors are selected for their subject-specific expertise and professional experience, their creativity, and their commitment to liberating education for indigenous families of color.
“My teaching philosophy could be summed up by a commitment to moving forward. Sometimes your slope might change and forward requires a bit more effort than before. In our individual trajectories, we want to hold close those that run parallel but we will inevitably encounter those who run perpendicular and those who started at different points. My teaching goal is to give students the skills to handle these encounters and keep moving forward.”
Demara Austin is the Math Aunty who believes that everybody has an inner mathematician. She has a Master's in Mathematics from Kansas State University, where she taught classes to prepare underrepresented students for undergraduate math classes and the GRE, as well as traditional College Algebra and Calculus courses.
Her Bachelor's in Mathematics is from St. Mary's College of Maryland where she was a teaching assistant to the Emerging Scholars Program which provided a space for students to find peer groups in mathematics classes and work on challenging problem sets.
She also tutored within programs for underrepresented students. Throughout her education, her research focused on ethnomathematics, math education, and abstract algebra. Following graduate school, she taught in a private school in Baltimore, MD for 4 years to grades 6-12. Demara believes that by harnessing the problem-solving skills and anxiety reduction techniques that are formed within one’s cultural identity, every student can have success with mathematics.
“Responsible communicators care about the effect of their message on their audience and community development welfare.”
David was born in Mbanza Kongo in the northern province of Angola. Angola is a southern African country and the second largest Portuguese speaking country in the world right after Brazil. Travels throughout the world have influenced David’s main philosophy that the world would be a better place if we all strive for intercultural justice. He professes the difference the awareness of multicultural, multilingual, and globalized world values can make in establishing social cohesion among people of different cultural, racial, and social classes and works to promote literacy and human dignity for all.
David specialized in Teaching English as Second Language (TESOL) at the Graduate School of Education (GSE) at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and he also attended the Graduate School of Education at LaSalle University in Philadelphia. David earned K-12 certifications in French, Spanish, and ESOL at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia and became a public school teacher in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 2008. David has taught courses on Foundation of Literacy and Seminar on ESL for Social Integration at LaSalle University since 2000. He currently teaches graduate courses at Pennsylvania State University, Abington. David earned a doctoral degree from University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) in Language, Literacy, & Culture; his research interests include Critical Intercultural Communication Theory (theory of intercultural justice), Spanish in the United States, language domination, sociolinguistics, and post-colonialism.
Nichelle Nelson is a veteran homeschool mom with 25 years of experience. She and her husband successfully launched three of their children from homeschool to Baylor University. Nichelle has an AA in History from Austin Community College. She graduated summa cum laude with a BA in History from Huston-Tillotson University, an HBCU.
She is currently pursuing an MS in Multicultural Studies from University of Houston - Clear Lake. She was an Air Force brat, Air Force wife, and an Air Force mom. She and her husband spent 12 years living overseas in Europe and Asia. She brings to the classroom her unique perspective into the lives of other cultures.
It is my belief that an individual’s education directly impacts their future
success and prosperity. I believe the critical thinking and problem-solving
skills learned in the classroom will be continuously utilized in the classroom
of life. It is for this reason that I feel it is my duty to provide an engaging learning environment where students feel safe to question, problem-solve, and work together to hone the skills they will use for a lifetime.
As a student, great teachers planted seeds in me that blossomed into a joy for learning. I now have a desire to plant seeds in a new generation of learners who will go on to positively influence our society. My teaching style reflects my belief that there is not a “one size fits all” method of teaching, but rather students learn best from multiple teaching methodologies and techniques that cater to diverse learning styles. I believe students should have several opportunities to practice the concepts and skills they acquire and should be challenged with opportunities to apply what they’ve learned via labs, cooperative group assignments, and assessments that require them to use advanced thinking.
It is important to me as a teacher that students are fully engaged and take ownership of their learning. I believe this is achieved by making lessons interesting and helping students make personal connections to what is being taught. As a chemist who has diverse work experience, it is also important to me to introduce students to the many career and scholarship opportunities available in the STEM disciplines.
Leroy Smith is a career special educator who is a native and resident of Baltimore City, Maryland. Leroy received his Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Music from Gettysburg College in 2012. He received his dual Master of Education degree in Elementary and Special Education from Lesley University in 2014. Currently, he is a special educator within the District of Columbia Public Schools.
Leroy has an extensive musical performance background consisting of choral, operatic, jazz, gospel, R&B, and pop music within the Maryland/DC region. Leroy enjoys writing poetry about a variety of topics. Most of his poetry centers around family, hope, liberation, and childhood.
Leroy is the CEO of Realized Educational Solutions, LLC. He supports families and professionals in their work with children with suspected and diagnosed disabilities. He also serves as the COO and Director of Instructional Design & Research at Grow and Give Learning, Inc. Grow and Give Learning, Inc provides families with an early childhood curriculum to address socially significant behaviors through a culturally responsive lens using Applied Behavior Analysis techniques.
“Unless [s/he] expresses an extraordinary interest, taking structured class may be too much. It has to be natural and desired.”
Shari Caldwell was born in New Haven, Connecticut where she began her studies in dance at an early age. Her first dance teacher, Dr. Angel Bowen ignited in Caldwell a fire for the arts that is still vibrant in her work and spirit today. She went on to learn from master teachers such as Dr. Pearl Primus and Baba Chuck Davis in the mid 70's and 80's. After traveling with various musical ensembles and dance companies, Caldwell returned home to teach.
Ms. Shari, as she is fondly called by her students, has contributed artistically as an educator and dancer in communities, public and private schools, and universities for three decades. Ms. Shari was sought out by Yale University's Payne-Whitney Athletics Department and ACES/Educational Center for the Arts, both in Connecticut, to teach African and African diaspora dance. While teaching and after birthing her precious daughter in 1989,
Shari began studying traditional African dance under various artists from international African music and dance companies, Les Ballets Africains and Merveille D'Afrique. She co-directed Company BAAFILA with international artist Yamoussa Camara in 2003, founded and directed MABHONGO, a youth arts ensemble in 2007, then founded The CALDWELL DANCE CENTER, LLC in Hamden, Connecticut in February 2011, where MABHONGO made its home.