About

Cultivating the Genius of Black Children

Much attention is give to the opportunity gap, and the often-resulting achievement gap, between white and minority students, but what about the solutions? Drawing on research, experience, and observations Cultivating the Genius of Black Children provides first practical, hands-on resource filled with effective strategies and best practices to help early childhood educators create learning environments in which Black children can thrive.

About The Author

Debra Ren-Etta Sullivan, EdD, is the co-founder and president of Praxis Institute for Early Childhood Education. She has more than twenty-five years of experience in higher education as a teacher, researcher, and administrator. Dr. Sullivan is also the author of Learning to Lead: Effective Leadership Skills for Teachers of Young Children and the co-author of Learning from the Bumps in the Road: Insights from Early Childhood Leaders.

Planning Team

Evelyn Allen

Evelyn Allen has worked with Catholic Community Services of Western Washington since 1992. She is the Founder and Director of the CCS – Village Spirit Center for Community Change and Healing, a housing, services, and economic development initiative focused on Black families in Western Washington. As an activist for racial justice and economic parity, she is the Convener of the Black Community Impact Alliance (BCIA). Ms. Allen holds a Master of Science Degree in Management from Antioch University Seattle, two Graduate Certificates in Leadership and Change Management and a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration from City University. She has served on many organizational boards and advisory councils over her working career.

Betty Irvis

Bevette Irvis works at Wellspring Family Services as the Director of the Early Learning Center, and has been with the program since it opened in 1988. The Early Learning Center provides specialized services to children and families who have been impacted by homelessness; over 90% of the families served each year are people of color.  Bevette holds a Bachelor’s degree in Health Science from the State University of New York at Cortland, and has worked in the field of Early Learning for over 30 years. She is currently a board member of the Southeast Directors’ Consortium, the Child Care Directors Association of Greater Seattle, and Team Neutral Zone.  Bevette is also a member of the National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI), and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

Lois Martin

Lois Martin is Director of the Community Day Center for Children in Seattle’s Central District. The Center, which has its roots in the in-home day care operated by Lois’ mother, became one of the first licensed child care centers in the Central District. Lois is a member of the Organizing Committee of Washington Educators in Early Learning, a chapter of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and serves on the WA State Early Learning Advisory Council.  Lois holds a B.A. from Oakwood College, and worked as a systems engineer for years before returning to Seattle and carrying forward the work her mother began with the Community Day Center for Children.

Emijah Smith

Emijah Smith is a savvy strategist. She holds a master’s degree in public administration from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington. She invests her time towards racial justice while countering anti-blackness. Emijah is the Community Engagement Manager at Children’s Alliance where she develops leadership and supports advocacy in creating public policies for Washington’s children. Emijah is the founder of Colorful Communities LLC, a policy advocacy organization focused on strong education advocacy investments and criminal justice reform. Emijah serves varying leadership roles at many leadership tables. She is most proud of her leadership role as a mother to her beautiful children.

Dr. Debra Ren-Etta Sullivan

Dr. Debra Ren-Etta Sullivan is an author, educator and researcher. Her book, “Cultivating the Genius of Black Children”, is available from Red Leaf Press. Dr. Sullivan is President of the Seattle Black Child Development Institute and the cofounder and past president of the Praxis Institute for Early Childhood Education. Prior to beginning the Praxis Institute, she served six years as the Campus Dean at Pacific Oaks College Northwest. She earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership, her master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Seattle University, and her bachelor’s degree in Cultural Anthropology from Seattle University. Among many leadership roles, Dr. Sullivan served on Washington State’s Early Learning Advisory Council and the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s Governing Board.

Cultivating the Genius of Black Children

We must develop a deeper understanding of children’s learning preferences in order to create learning environments that are exciting, rich, dynamic, and interesting. Learn how culture influences learning styles, preferences, and personalities in Black children.