Hometown Heroes: Teacher of the Year Sponsors "Black Panther" Field Trip
Episode Date: March 29, 2018
(LEWES, Del.) – An unforgettable experience for Sussex County students unfolded at the Midway Movie Theater in Lewes Wednesday afternoon.
Students from Seaford, Cape Henlopen and Sussex Tech High School were sponsored to see this year’s blockbuster movie, Black Panther, in an effort to spark a dialogue about how the film might relate to their lives.
The day was made possible through a generous gesture by Delaware’s Teacher of the Year Virginia “Jinny” Forcucci.
“We are giving young people an opportunity to watch a really inspiring film and then gather together to celebrate the feelings, and/or the questions, and/or the ideas that the film incites and inspires in them,” said Forcucci, who is an English, literature and writing instructor at Sussex Tech.
“Our job is to listen to what is inspiring these young people. Black Panther is making a tremendous impact on children of color.”
After the movie students gathered at the Baywood Clubhouse in Rehoboth Beach where they lead a powerful and emotional discussion about what is missing from their lives.
Many students revealed struggles at home and coping with single-parent households:
“I don’t understand why stuff happens to me or why I do certain things. So that’s something I need to work on.”
“I don’t have a father. I don’t have a father to be by my side. I don’t know how a man is supposed to love a woman. My mom is showing me love everyday. But i need a father to love me.”
“Parents, they can tell you you’re doing this, you’re doing good but they’re not showing you. They’re not really there.”
“It’s like some moments where I just don’t think I belong here. I have to jump through hoops or put a smile on my face for someone to understand I am actually here.”
Instructors from the Pathways to Success program, which many of the students on the field trip participate in, also joined Forcucci in the day-long experience.
Jacques Bowe, a Pathways instructor at Sussex Tech, moderated the discussion at Baywood reflecting on the dozens of times he has heard those same struggles expressed by students he encounters at school daily.
“Ninety-five percent of the issues that I have are students who don’t have a father in their life,” said Bowe. “‘Why is my father not in my life,?’ And they’re trying to find out why is he not here and they’re trying to find that purpose. And it’s something I see all the time.”
Early on in her career Forcucci made it a point to never turn a blind eye to her students pain.
“When I started student teaching, I had a student named Kevin. He wore glasses everyday because he was under influence and he was trying to hide that. I said, ‘what are you going to do? Like, are you going to graduate?’ And he said, ‘I’m going to go to jail. I’m going to go to jail, I’m going to learn how to cut hair and then when I get out, I’ll go work for my uncle at his barbershop,’” Forcucci recalled as she fought back tears.
“How is it that no one asked Kevin what he was going to do? How come no one ever asked him? And the idea that he was going to get his skills from a correctional facility, just really resonated with me. I just decided that i would devote as much time as i could to working with kids who aren’t being heard,” the 2018 Teacher of the Year said.
And over the course of a few hours for those participating students, every emotional struggle, every voice was heard.
It’s just one of the many reasons why Jinny Forcucci is one of WRDE’s Hometown Heroes.