AFSAC chief to highlight Black history for STEM students

Winston Ferguson, section chief of systems and integration at the Air Force Security Assistance Center on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, is working with Dayton Regional STEM School to bring more Black history to its students. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
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Winston Ferguson, section chief of systems and integration at the Air Force Security Assistance Center on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, is working with Dayton Regional STEM School to bring more Black history to its students. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Black achievements, contributions enhance insights

A conversation with Winston Ferguson’s eighth-grade daughter led to an entire school’s observance of Black History Month being upgraded.

Ferguson, section chief of systems and integration at the Air Force Security Assistance Center on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, was moved to approach the leadership at Dayton Regional STEM School at the suggestion of his daughter, Giovanna.

He has arranged short Zoom calls for Feb. 16 and 18 to afford students the opportunity to learn about Black history accomplishments and contributions and interact with high-profile speakers. He also sent the school information on Black achievers and inventors, which is being used during daily announcements and trivia contests twice a week.

The father of five said he appreciated working with STEM School Superintendent Robin Fisher and principals Andrew Sears and Jessica Short.

“The thing I’ve seen is the difficulty of introducing somebody else’s story,” he said. “What I wanted to do was offer some insight from my perspective. It’s a step forward.”

He said he wants to make two points through his outreach: first, Black history is American history – they are not separate; and second, the United States should not recognize or confine celebration and acknowledgement of other cultures to just one month, but consistently throughout the year.

Fisher said Ferguson’s move was well-timed. STEM School leaders formed a diversity and inclusion work group this school year while students founded the RACE (Racial Alliance Collaborative Effort) group where they can talk about racial issues and conflict in the country.

The administration realized the cultural celebrations it normally held in February were overshadowing Black History Month, so a decision was made to reprioritize. Ferguson listened to the school’s plans and provided feedback on what Black students would appreciate.

“He helped us pull together our list of activities and events,” Fisher said. “We really appreciate his feedback. He has been super helpful.”

Mentoring is something society needs, Ferguson said.

“It is refreshing to see that the DRSS is open to making progress forward and allowing me the opportunity to work with them,” he said. “I think they are a really good team in being able to allow me access and take some of the suggestions I had and put them into play. I really tip my hat to them.”

He encourages other parents to reach out as he has.

“Understand everyone will not be receptive, but reach out,” he said. “At some point you will find someone or an entity that will be open to starting a dialogue and moving the ball in the right direction. Don’t get discouraged.”

Fisher echoed those sentiments.

“I encourage parents to reach out to their school leadership with any questions, concerns or suggestions,” she said. “Ideas are always appreciated. That partnership is so critical and important.”