Talisha Bryan a semifinalist for New Orleans Excellence in Teaching Award

McMain’s Talisha Bryan a semifinalist for New Orleans Excellence in Teaching Award
Posted on 09/23/2020

Congratulations to Eleanor McMain’s Talisha Bryan for being named as New Orleans Excellence in Teaching Semifinalist! The virtual awards ceremony takes place tonight, Wednesday, September 23, when the winner will be announced.

Bryan received her master’s in teaching degree from Xavier University of Louisiana in 2015. Since then she’s been teaching English Language Arts and is currently a Mentor Teacher at McMain, something she said has allowed her to truly understand how literature can impact our students of New Orleans. 

Ms. Bryan with some students“The moment that I transform and inspire an educational movement as an educator arrives when I provide equitable opportunities for my students, despite them drowning in a system where life’s cards are stacked against them,” she said. “To inspire black and brown children of New Orleans, the children, who have witnessed the city’s resurrection after its death and may have witnessed many many other traumas is quite possibly the most challenging thing I have been petitioned to do. But, the streets are begging. The children are begging. The community is begging. I hear the cries and have tried my best to answer in the only form I know how to: teaching literature.” 

Bryan said delving into the thought processes of her scholars when they critique the themes of texts and when they make it relevant through a social and personal lens is a reward that you cannot receive in any other profession. 

“This is what motivates me to ensure that my scholars have equitable academic opportunities and grow to be socially conscious members of their communities,” she said. “When students get frustrated because I am challenging their thinking in hopes that they will formulate and defend their own ideas and I am expecting them to give me their all, I am instilling in them a sense of purpose and identity in a system that says they have none.”

Assistant Principal Katie Wills said Ms. Bryan's room is “reliably a hive of discussion.” 

“She is truly a model for what it means to bring your authentic self to the classroom and work tirelessly to improve your craft for the benefit of our children,” Wills said.

Bryan said what sets her apart is that she doesn’t settle for mediocrity. 

“Students know when they come to Ms. Bryan’s classroom, they will have to own their learning, even if they ‘get by’ in other teachers’ classes,” she said. “The way I sustain their own culture in my classroom while still holding them to high expectations is what truly motivates me to continue teaching.” 

McMain staffAs for being one of 12 semifinalists across the city for this award, Bryan said she attributes the honor to the support of her family — Robert Bryan, Tonya Bryan, Sharise Bryan, TaRon Bryan, Kilah Bryan, and Derwin Bryan — and her family at McMain —John Green, Nia Smith, and Katie Wills.

“I am truly honored to be recognized for this work that is challenging especially during this unprecedented time! I would feel truly humbled if I am the winner of the New Orleans Excellence in Teaching award,” she said.

Tune in tonight, Wednesday, September 23, for the virtual New Orleans Excellence in Teaching Awards Recognition ceremony. 
Zoom link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_4QT_0oe-TbmVVpNF6ajtIg
Time: 5:30-7 p.m.
Introductory Video of Talisha Bryan: around 5:40 p.m.
Announcement of Winners: around 6:22 p.m.