Prof. Shannon Stanton Agbotse Awarded the 2022 Nerhood Teaching Award
Since 2005, Associate Professor of Education Shannon M. Stanton Agbotse has been preparing future educators at Whittier College with a special focus on culturally responsive teaching, multicultural education, literacy, and the teaching of diverse learners within a social justice framework.
A Los Angeles native, Stanton Agbotse first came to Whittier College as an Irvine Fellow. After attending graduate school in northern California, she was looking to move back closer to home. A fortuitous trip with her father to a nearby roller rink first brought her to the city of Whittier.
“So, when I researched places to apply for a teaching position, I wondered if there was a college in that city where the roller rink was, and voilà - Whittier College, popped up!” recounted Stanton Agbotse. “When I interviewed, I loved the beautiful and small campus size, the department faculty I met, and the fact that I had the opportunity to prepare pre-service teachers.”
Stanton Agbotse is known for her belief in the transformative power of education and her work strives to empower her students to become “change agents” and “to live meaningful and purposeful lives.” In recognition of her work and dedication, Stanton Agbotse has been awarded the 2022 Nerhood Teaching Award.
Students describe her as a dynamic teacher and someone who is open to “everyone’s point of view.” One student wrote, “I really appreciate you telling the class that whatever we chose in life to go out and get it, and to try to be the best at whatever we chose. It is things like that I will remember forever.”
“Thank you for being a GREAT professor! You’ve really helped me realize that passion is so important,” wrote another student nominator. A third student wrote, “Thanks for getting me out of my ‘shell’ and helping me see that what I have to say is as important as anyone else’s opinions.”
“It's truly an honor [to receive this award],” said Stanton Agbotse. “Teaching is what I love to do, across all grade levels. A huge part of my role at Whittier is to help prepare pre-service teachers to teach in diverse K-12 settings successfully. I hope in my teaching, I model pedagogical practices students will be able to use in their future classrooms. And, to help students understand that all children when they encounter high expectations, quality teaching, opportunity, and care, can learn successfully. It is so important to me because I know in preparing teachers, I am not only impacting the student in front of me, but the thousands of students they will teach.”
Stanton Agbotse’s scholarship encompasses four related areas: curriculum modules that focus on the African American experience; faith and the Black education experience; arts integration and education; and UPLIFT (Uniting Passion, Literacy, & Identity for Transformation), an enrichment program working with elementary and middle school students from a strengths-based framework that values their strengths, talents, and cultural identities.
In addition to teaching graduate and undergraduate courses at Whittier, Stanton Agbotse is the founder and director of Hosanna Academy. After twenty years in the field of education, she developed Hosanna Academy to provide a safe space, both physically and emotionally, for students of color to soar academically and personally. She saw that too often schools ignored the uniqueness and talents of children for a standard, one-size-fits-all curriculum. Hosanna fosters an environment where children are nurtured academically, spiritually, and emotionally with a curriculum that is culturally relevant to students’ histories and identities.
Stanton Agbotse has also worked as a literacy consultant, developing curriculum for various non-profit education programs such as Project GEAR UP, A Day in the Life, and LEARN. She has also presented research and facilitated culturally responsive workshops at various national conferences and schools. In addition to college students, she’s taught third grade, middle school students, and 9th grade English for College Bound. Teaching is her passion; as such her goal is to prepare teachers to teach all children successfully.
In 2010, Stanton Agbotse received a $12,000 John Randolph and Dora Haynes Fellowship to support her research. She was recognized as a Sallie Mae Teacher of the Year during her early career as an elementary school teacher for the Long Beach School District and received the Outstanding Graduate School Instructor Award in 2004 from the University of California, Berkeley.
Stanton Agbotse received a bachelor’s degree in American literature and African American studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. She earned an Ed.M. in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy from Harvard University; a multiple subject teaching credential from CSU, Dominguez Hills; and a Ph.D. in Language, Literacy, Society, and Culture at the University of California, Berkeley.