A Soul-Centered Approach to Educating Teachers
A Black Education Network (ABEN)
Published: August 2023
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Published: September 2023

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Published: September 2023
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6" x 9"
Language: English

2024 SPE Outstanding Book Award Honorable Mention

A Soul-Centered Approach to Educating Teachers
has been created by A Black Education Network (ABEN), a national organization whose mission is to reverse the backward slide of Black students by utilizing culturally informed research, technology, and visionary community networking within the African Diaspora to facilitate academic and cultural excellence wherever scholars are. This interactive book presents portraits, narratives, and essays to illustrate the impact of ABEN on Black educators and those they serve.

Traditional teacher education, curriculum, and instruction is largely disconnected from the lived experiences of diverse students and their communities. Current debates around Critical Race Theory and its application to curriculum call into question culturally responsive practices while others are striving for ways to support equitable practices in the classroom. Questions about these practices include, What does teacher and learning look like when grounded in community voice and practice? How can we better integrate the history, context, experience, and voice of the communities being served? How can teacher education apply authentic problem solving to address the concerns of a community?

This inspirational and educational tale answers these questions for the myriad teachers, parents, administrators, school districts, community organizations, and community members who seek a better understanding of how to foster, access, and learn from spaces of Black excellence for Black children. Soul-Centered is essential reading for both scholars involved in a variety of disciplines in Education, and for community leaders interested in seeing how improved education practices can hugely benefit their constituents.

Table of Contents:

Foreword: "Ubuntu! Who We Are and Why"
Joyce King

Founder’s Introduction: Debra Watkins

Editors’ Introduction: Rona Frederick and Kmt Shockley

Part I: ABEN - The Foundation

Chapter 1: The Making of the Vision
Rona Frederick

Chapter 2: ABEN – Reimagining Black Education
Rona Frederick

Part II: Soul-Centered Programming

Chapter 3: The Cultural Imperative Initiative
Anthony Browder

Chapter 4: A Youth Perspective on ABEN: A Greene Scholar’s Experience
Ayinde Olokotin

Chapter 5: Two Minds and One Vision: Reflections from Mama Rosaline Preudhomme the Keeper of Wisdom
Rona Frederick

Chapter 6: The Power of the ABEN Summer Institutes: The Village Method
Rona Frederick

Chapter 7: From National to International Reach: The Sankofa Homeschool Collective
Monica Z. Utsey-Okpoti

Part III: Personal Narratives of Soul-Centered Healing

Chapter 8: Leading outside of the White Gaze: Debra Watkins, Founder of ABEN
Rona Frederick

Chapter 9: ABEN: A Lighthouse
Akosua Lesesne

Chapter 10: Full Circle: A Tribute to Debra Watkins and ABEN
Bobbie Brooks

Afterword: What Traditional Teacher Education can Learn From A Black Education Network
Marvin Lynn

About the Contributors


NOTE: Table of contents subject to change up until publication date.

Reviews & Endorsements:

“Most people would agree that these are troubling times for Black people worldwide. Fortunately, A Soul-Centered Approach to Educating Teachers: A Black Education Network (ABEN) provides our communities a framework and praxis for those who educate across geographical and cultural locations. This book, steeped in the Pan-African and Black liberation tradition, introduces spirituality, culture, and healing into our daily ponderings and practices of education reform. The editors brought together some of the most prolific thinkers interested in education for liberation. They've made the case that ABEN is a hidden gem in liberation work!”

Venus E. Evans-Winters, Professor, Founder of Planet Venus Institute

“The work of ABEN and its founder, Mama Debra Watkins, is sacred work in the best tradition of the Ancestors. This volume is a much-needed and necessary documentation of insights, methods and outcomes that bear witness to effective African-centered leadership, instruction, engagement and achievement.”

Chike Akua, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership, Clark Atlanta University

“Simply put, re-building the Black Teacher Pipeline necessitates revitalizing the soul of Black teachers. In A Soul-Centered Approach to Educating Teachers: A Black Education Network (ABEN), we receive an effective blueprint to unite Black teachers, but we are also reminded of how critical Afro-centrism is to pedagogy, generational knowledge, and our pursuit of justice. The best teachers of my life were situated at Nidhamu Sasa and they embodied their souls in their collective practices. Their influence has impressed upon me that to re-build the Black Teacher Pipeline, we must prioritize fueling the soul of Black teachers and paving the way to allow them to integrate themselves in impactful Black teacher pedagogies and Black historical lenses. The triumph of A Soul-Centered Approach to Educating Teachers: A Black Education Network (ABEN) is demonstrating how impactful this vision is when fully realized and giving a powerful example for us all to model.

I’m humbled to be a part of this movement towards “retrieving our…human heart.”

S. El-Mekki, CEO, Center for Black Educator Development