First year of SHS CCP Black History Class taught by Aaron Jeter

Aaron Jeter with his two children at the Wolstein Center at his graduation from Cleveland State University where he earned a Masters degree in Arts and History allowing him to become a visiting non-paid faculty member at Kent State University.  Photo courtesy of Aaron Jeter.

Aaron Jeter with his two children at the Wolstein Center at his graduation from Cleveland State University where he earned a Master’s degree in Arts and History allowing him to become a visiting non-paid faculty member at Kent State University. Photo courtesy of Aaron Jeter.

Grainne Crawmer, Staff Writer

In the hallway, you can hear students talking and laughing. The assignment is to write a rap song about their World History class. You can see students picking out songs and talking about how to make the lyrics flow while still staying accurate to the material. Writing songs and raps is not an uncommon teaching tactic in Aaron Jeter’s classroom. Whether they’re singing lyrics or playing a basketball review game, the classroom is rarely quiet.

Jeter has been teaching at Solon High School (SHS) since 2005 and has had a lasting impact working to create a fun and safe environment. During his time teaching, he has been active in the community as an advisor for the African American Culture Club and the Jewish Student Union. He has taught AP Psychology and African American History. He currently teaches World History, sociology and psychology. And most recently, Kent State University’s College Credit Plus African American History class.

Jeter works in the social studies department with fellow teacher, Karen Davidoff. Davidoff previously taught World History with Jeter and now teaches psychology and Facing History. Davidoff said that Jeter is incredibly driven.

“He is an individual that sets high goals and works really hard to achieve those goals,” Davidoff said. “And he oftentimes juggles quite a bit on his plate, from teaching a variety of different preps to his own personal life and advancing his career educationally, to then the different efforts that he takes with his kids on and adventures he takes his kids on to expose them to all different environments.”

Davidoff also says that Jeter is incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about his work. In the Facing History class that Davidoff currently teaches, she acknowledges the worst parts of history and discusses a global perspective, similarly to the new Black History class that Jeter is teaching, that acknowledges the worst parts of black history. Recently, Jeter has started a Kent State University College Credit Plus African American History class, which addresses how African Americans have been treated throughout history.

Jeter graduated from Cleveland State University with a master’s in history, which is required to teach the class. He said he had to interview with Kent State professors to give them a proposal of what he wanted to teach at SHS. While this is the first year that the class is up and running, it has been in the works for a long time, and Jeter has been working on it for a long time.

Aaron Jeter and Kennedy Ford, a student in his CCP Black Experience I course.

“I then presented a proposal to the Board of Education to change the existing African American History class to a college credit plus class taught within the building,” Jeter said. “In order to do that, I had to interview with the Kent State professors of the Department of African Studies, and they interviewed me, approved it, sent a letter of approval to the board, which they read, and so it took about a year.”

Not many kids at Solon know about the opportunities that come with taking the Black History class. With the class, you get a weighted GPA bump, equivalent to an AP-style weighted class. Also, this class allows for three college credits per semester–six overall–recognized by most universities.

SHS senior Kennedy Ford, a student in the history class, says the class moves through material at a very fast pace, but she relishes the opportunities of the class.

“I honestly feel like it also is good for more African American people to join, because you learn more about your culture and where you come from and everything, and it dives deeper than what most people know,” Ford said. “So it’s very informative.”

While the class gives African American students an opportunity to get more involved with academics, and more opportunities for college credit, Jamari Holmes, another senior at SHS, who took the regular version of the class last year, says that it’s a great opportunity for all students.

“It was beneficial for me, and other students,” Holmes said. “I feel like, no matter what, it was a good class though, a very good class, and a very good teacher.”

With the addition of this new class, it also gives African American students more opportunities to be involved in the school and creates a more diverse experience. While Ford says that the school’s approach to diversity is not perfect, she says that it’s getting a lot better, as does Jeter.

“I think the administration has worked with the student body to try to incorporate various views,” Jeter said. “If you could see the murals in the school and different clubs, the Ethnic Expo, and things like that that are really trying to so on. I think it is unique in the sense that there’s a lot of diverse students coming from different cultural backgrounds and also even countries at times. And I think we do a pretty good job of trying to be inclusive in that regard.”