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KCPS Celebrates National HBCU Week

To celebrate National HBCU Week, KCPS is spotlighting staff who graduated from Historically Black Colleges and Universities!


A smiling Black man holds a Bethune-Cookman college banner and two books.

AVID Coordinator Dr. Reginald Hester always knew he wanted to attend an HBCU. He majored in Special Education at Bethune-Cookman University.

“It’s not just a university,” Dr. Hester said, posing with books authored by friends and fellow BCU grads. “You have friends who become family. If you’re looking for an opportunity in sunny Daytona Beach, Florida, then I strongly encourage you to consider Bethune-Cookman.”


A smiling Black woman with glasses and red lipstick is wearing a Clark Atlanta sweatshirt.

During her senior year of high school, KCPS Security Officer Tonika Benson decided to further her education at Clark Atlanta University. She wanted to learn about her culture in an environment where Black students challenge each other.

“My HBCU has served as my haven, a place where I can be unapologetically Black,” Officer Benson said. “The discussions that take place in our classrooms go beyond the four walls of our illustrious institutions. We carry them with us into the real world and apply them to our daily lives. Addressing topics such as racism, police brutality and systematic oppression helps us see where we as students can come in and help make a change.”


A smiling Black woman with glasses wears a Grambling State University shirt.

Denise Talley-Hopkins is the special education teacher at Faxon Elementary. She grew up in Kansas City, but college took her to Louisiana to attend Grambling State University. She says it’s important to talk about college starting in elementary school.

“When we have our days when we wear our college shirts, and my bulletin board is all HBCUs across the country,” Ms. Talley-Hopkins said. “I always encourage kids to go someplace far. An HBCU will give you a very different experience than your reality that’s over here on 31st Street.”


A grinning Black man in a UAPB sweatshirt stands in a classroom, his hands crossed in front of him.

Kendrick Claxton teaches social studies at Southeast High School. He holds a degree in Secondary Education from the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff.

Mr. Claxton said his students’ interest in HBCUs has increased since Jackson State hired Pro Football Hall of Fame Deion Sanders as head coach.

“They ask me, ‘Hey, Mr. Claxton, I hear you went to that HBCU,’ and I have to explain, ‘No, guys, there are a lot of HBCUs,’” he said. “It’s like home away from home. Anytime you go to an HBCU, you’re going to be right at home. Anytime.”


A young Black woman in a classroom holds an Oakwood University banner.

Imani Riley-Jones, a first-year teacher at Northeast High School, graduated from Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama.

“My HBCU is very unique because it was built on a former slave plantation. Its very first students were former slaves. Now it’s a place to see excellence in education for young Black children, a place to thrive.”


Want to learn more about how you can promote HBCU attendance? Lincoln College Preparatory Academy Principal Shanelle Smith started the nonprofit HBCU Walking Billboard to encourage students to consider HBCUs during their college search. Principal Smith is a proud graduate of Fisk University in Nashville.