Parker PM team member Anzetta Cherry ’15 has installed a new bulletin board outside the Parker PM room to remind those who pass by to love themselves unconditionally and find love and beauty in all things around them.
In her fifth year on the team, Cherry has taken responsibility for bringing each of the PPM bulletin boards to life. Throughout the year, these boards display a common theme; for 2023–24 year, that theme is “kindness.” As February approached, Cherry had special plans for the board that would honor Black History Month.
“Black History Month is very important to me,” she said. “Growing up, it was one of my favorite months because I loved learning about historical figures who looked like me. It was inspiring to hear about how far hard work and perseverance can get someone who has so many adversities.”
While attending her first People of Color Conference in November, Cherry had many eye-opening experiences, including learning about the critical importance of having Black educators at primarily white institutions. “Being a mirror for students who look like me is extremely important,” she shared, “and that was one of the things I was most excited about when deciding to work at Parker. Black History Month gives me more opportunities to show our Black students how important they are and that they are seen.”
Cherry admits that this bulletin board felt personal. “I wanted to push myself to be more creative and artistic and try things I hadn’t done before. Normally I just cut the letters out and come up with a craft for students to do so that we can display their art, but this time around, I wanted to help heal a little part of myself by seeing beauty in the whole picture, while also acknowledging all the small things it took to get there.”
In her mind’s eye, Cherry wanted the board to reflect the “kindness” theme along with the theme of “love” for Valentine’s Day. Her passion for spreading love led her to incorporate the Martin Luther King Jr. quote, “I have decided to stick with love; hate is too great a burden to bear.”. Cherry said, “There is so much hate around us, and I wanted to remind our community that it’s our individual and communal responsibility to choose to love one another and show each other a little extra kindness and care during this month.”
The other side of the board features a quote from a Ben Harper song that reinforces kindness: “I can change the world, with my own two hands, Make it a better place, oh, with my own two hands. Make it a kinder place, with my own two hands.” Cherry believed this quote reinforced the need for collective work and the responsibility of all to make the school a better place, which in return makes the world a better place.
The centerpiece of the board, which surely has drawn the most attention, features a Black woman whose Afro is made of hearts. This element, Cherry explained, “symbolizes the importance of loving exactly who we are—our hair, our crowns and everything that makes us unique and special.”
The finished piece is truly a sight to behold and has stopped students, parents/guardians and employees alike in their tracks as they pass by the PPM space in the Lower School. SK teacher Nanci Moore described the board as “a colorful source of pride.” Third grade students Imara and Valerie feel, “It represents strength and what we can do to make a difference on our own.” Peer PPM staffer Kiéla Nelson offered that the board, “reflects the beauty and unity of the Parker community, while also shining light on the Black excellence within these walls.”
Cherry commented, “There is so much to love about my job, but the thing I love the most is the opportunity to be a mirror for many of our Parker PM students. When I say that, I mean helping them navigate this space and being the adult I sometimes wished I had when I was a student in the Upper School. Knowing that I can be that person for them now while they are still learning and growing so much feels so full circle for me.”
Cherry is grateful to PPM team members Elizabeth MacGilpin, Kiéla Nelson, Molly Semprevivo and Stacie Newmark for their help with executing the craft work and being a second set of eyes through the process. Without them, Cherry said, she would not have finished the board on time.
Cherry concluded, “If you ever wondered if representation matters, know that it does because for the next month, I get to see students smile as they walk past the board and hear their whispers about what makes them different from one another and how we are similar. I've sparked something in a lot of our friends down in the LS, and even though the bulletin board is temporary and Black History month is traditionally celebrated in February, I want these messages and celebrations to last forever.”