Dr. Waymond Ervin
Principal at Northeast High School of Kansas City Public Schools
I am a son of an educator who instilled in me that the value of an education is too significant to measure and cannot be taken away from you. I am a Texas native with almost 20 years of public-school experience in an urban setting, as my father did for almost four decades. I believe that public schools provide significant learning experiences for our students. Education has always been a calling throughout my life, and I found a purpose to support others in achieving their greatness. I enjoy leading in the Historic Northeast community with the amazing students, educators, and community members.
Who is a Black hero or heroine that has motivated you in your career? / Who are you celebrating this Black History Month?
Fredrick Douglass has motivated my career due to his perseverance in trials and the uplift of others. Fredrick Douglass did not allow his environment of being born in slavery to define his reality and future promises. As I reflect on Douglass’ trials and tribulations, I will never know the agony of slavery and the ill effects of its implication on one’s psyche. However, the agony of being confined or marginalized to an area because of my race, gender, and the physical statute has been reflectively recognized. As Fredrick Douglass rose above the turmoil of slavery with his mindset of “if there is no struggle, there is no progress,” I too value the struggle. The struggle provides lessons learned and progression of growth. Frederick Douglass is whom I celebrate during Black History month because of his perseverance, scholarship, and uplift.
How has the history of Black and African American people in Kansas City impacted the work that you do?
Black and African American people have impacted my work by improving the quality of education and aligning the school with external organizations to provide our students opportunities. The work we do is intergenerational. As we support this current generation of students, they will support their parents and future children to be better and continue to strive for excellence in their communities.
What is the most essential work that must be done to ensure equity for Black students in Kansas City?
The essential work to ensure equity for Black and African American is providing opportunities. Opportunities start with knowledge of oneself, education, and village approach for motivation and mentorship. Black and African American students need to know that they are not victims, and their current reality and environment can change with the intentional goals of being a better version of themselves each day. Educational opportunities will allow Black and African American students the necessary foundation to pursue careers and interests and become prepared to walk into opportunity doors. Lastly, the village is the community (school, family, and businesses), who are working together to support Black and African American students’ and provide opportunities through internships and mentorships. These non-traditional academic experiences and knowledge help develop maturity and provide a model for how to navigate life experiences.
What is a cause or organization that you would encourage KC citizens to research this black history month?
I would encourage KC citizens to research the methods, protocols, and the why behind the political and judicial system. One cannot change a system unless we truly understand the how and the why and the interconnection of political and judicial systems that will lead to equitable change for all.