Colorado finally has its first Black male teacher of the year

A celebration was held at the state Capitol where Jimmy Lee Day II received some love on the floor of the Colorado State Senate.

A middle-school teacher in Colorado is making history after being named the state’s first Black male Teacher of the Year, CBS News reports.

A celebration was held on Tuesday at the state Capitol where Jimmy Lee Day II was recognized as Colorado’s 2023 Teacher of the Year. Day received some love on the floor of the Colorado State Senate from Sen. Rhonda Fields.

 Jimmy Lee Day II of East Middle School in an interview with CBS News on March 14, 2023, at the capitol in Denver (Credit: Screenshot, CBS News)

Additionally, Day was selected to participate at Aurora Public School Mentoring Community of Practice and Public Education & Business Coalition due to his effective teaching, according to Colorado Department of Education.

“From classroom management to how I rehearse my students to how I want my expectations — it’s consistent, it doesn’t change, it’s unbending and then my connection — me making myself human just like you and we make connections,” said Day in an interview with CBS. He serves as the band director at East Middle School in Aurora, Colorado, where he teaches sixth through eighth grade.

Over the course of his 14 years of teaching music, Day has rebuilt three band programs in urban areas, according to his bio. These programs became award-winning performances at district music festivals, earning superior scores. 

“(Day’s) knowledge of music and passion for sharing it with students is clear to anyone who steps into his classroom or attends an East Middle band performance,” Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes said in a news release, The Denver Gazette reports.

“I am inspired by his dedication to not only help young musicians develop their instrumental skills but also instill them with confidence and demonstrate life lessons,” Anthes added.

Day has taught at East Middle School since 2017, according to the Colorado Department of Education. Per his bio, he earned a bachelor’s degree in music at Tennessee State University in May 2006. Two years later he received a Master of Arts in teaching at Trevecca Nazarene University. 

In a 2020 interview with ChalkBeat, Day recalled the moment he decided to become a teacher.

“When I was studying music as an undergraduate at Tennessee State University, I took some courses that required practicums — we would go to a school and observe a teacher teach their class,” he explained. “These really ignited my passion for teaching instrumental music to middle school and high school students.”

As the public face of Colorado’s educators, Day will reportedly have the opportunity to go to NASA’s Space Camp and become a member of the Colorado Education Commissioner’s Teacher Cabinet.

He will also attend a ceremony at the White House that honors teachers of the year from other states, according to The Denver Gazette.

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