Math Teacher, South Atlanta High School
As the daughter of two civil rights activists living in the Jim Crow South, Ms. Ursula Gordon would naturally follow in their footsteps advocating for the needs of others.
She advances equity at Atlanta Public Schools (APS) by voicing her concerns about funding disparities between schools within the district and being persistent in the push for equitable access to appropriate learning supplies for students, particularly calculators.
When her pleas were ignored last year, Ms. Gordon was quick to think on her feet, successfully enlisting the help of Texas Instruments, the technology company that designs and manufactures calculators.
“With testing right around the corner, I knew that I had to find a way for my students to get quality calculators. I reached out to Texas Instruments explaining the situation and asked them if there was any way for my students to get calculators, and the lady sent me a link that allowed my students access to the online calculators for 30 days,” she recalled.
According to Ms. Gordon, she still faces the same dilemma today.
In addition to championing for her students’ right to essential school supplies, she provides them with unique opportunities to participate in math competitions and gain international experience through affordable International Baccalaureate (IB) programs, taking two students each to Japan and Paris respectively.
“There are groups that target IB students and charge them almost $7,000 to participate in the programs, and it doesn’t cost that much. That’s why I took them myself, because I knew that I could give them the experience for way less than that.”
Ms. Gordon said that her students motivate her to continue advocating for equity in the education system, “I don’t have children of my own, so when they become my student, they become my child. I want my child to have access to everything that students at other schools at APS have. That’s the only way for us to be on an equal playing field.”