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From student to educator: DSST alumni inspires during Black History Month

Sophonias Paulos, a proud alumnus of DSST: Green Valley Ranch, has come full circle, returning to DSST Public Schools where he has worked for four years as a 12th-grade teacher and advisor for the Black Student Alliance (BSA) at DSST: Conservatory Green. His journey from student to educator embodies the spirit of perseverance and dedication.

Paulos graduated as part of the inaugural class of 2015 and pursued higher education at CU Denver, where he majored in Sociology with minors in ethnic studies and criminology. Alongside his academic pursuits, he obtained a certificate in family and social welfare. However, it was a pivotal moment during the pandemic in 2020 that ignited his passion for teaching.

"I had the chance to provide one-on-one support to a student," Paulos recalled. "That experience ignited my love for teaching. I found fulfillment in assisting students, especially those who are Black and brown, witnessing their growth, and helping them achieve their dreams.”

Since then, he has found fulfillment and joy in making an impact not just in the classroom but in the lives of each of his students.

“What drives me is wanting to make a difference and assist others in reaching their goals, whether it's excelling in school, achieving personal aspirations, or making meaningful contributions to our community,” Paulos said.

Paulos’ parents left Ethiopia at a young age to help find a better future for their family. It is this spirit that embodies Black History Month and makes his parents his greatest inspiration.

"Their dedication not only provided for my siblings and me but also paved the way for us to pursue our dreams with ample resources and support,” he said. “Black history is about recognizing and honoring those who paved the way for us today. It's also a great reminder of the ongoing struggle for equality and justice while also highlighting the rich cultural heritage and diversity within the Black community.”

He hopes that non-BIPOC (black, indigenous and other people of color) individuals grasp the importance of recognizing Black achievements and understanding the continuous effort to combat racial inequity.

“It's essential for (non-BIPOC people) to understand the ongoing fight for racial equality, to continue to listen to Black voices, especially Black women, and actively work towards being anti-racist,” Paulos said.

It is this idea of continued work and learning that drives Paulos to create events and morning meeting topics within the school's BSA that provide a platform for students to learn, discuss, and celebrate Black history, culture, and achievements.

One such event will be happening on Friday, Feb. 23. It will be a festival-style event with food, vendors and performances! The event is free to attend and will take place in the high school cafeteria starting at 4 p.m. All are welcome to join in the fun.

As Paulos continues to inspire and uplift his students, his journey stands as a testament to the transformative power of education and the enduring legacy of Black excellence.

“Like Shirley Chisholm said, ‘If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair’.”

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