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2017 Freedom Fund Banquet Leadership Award Recipients

Teacher believes goal of education is to ensure all students succeed

Jeanne Aston Baynes active in many community groups.

Jeanne Aston Baynes, who grew up outside Pittsburgh, Pa., has lived in the Spokane area for more than 30 years and served on the Education Committee of the NAACP, Spokane Branch, for many of those years and is a Board Member at Large. 

She received her bachelor’s degree from Youngstown State University, Ohio in 1972, a master’s from Atlanta University in Georgia in 1985, and a doctoral degree in education from Washington State University in 2000.

Before coming to the Spokane area in 1979 to teach at the Robert Reed Lab School of Eastern Washington University (EWU), Jeanne taught in the Howard County School District in Columbia, Md., for two years and part time at the University of the District of Columbia.

She then worked for Spokane Public Schools, including at Whitman Elementary, Grant Elementary and Shaw Middle Schools, for 30 years before retiring in 2013.  She served as reading specialist, administrator and in language arts/accelerated English. 

“One of my primary concerns is the disproportionate number of students of color who are disciplined, expelled and suspended,” she said, seeing need for hiring more diverse staff in administration, counseling and teaching.

Related to discipline, the NAACP Education Committee calls for use of restorative justice instead of typical discipline approaches.  That means “talking it out when students have difficulty in the classroom, creating a plan for success and building relationships with students of color,” said Jeanne.

She also calls for teachers to look at alternative types of discipline, rather than putting students out of the classroom so they lose class time.  That loss makes it harder for them to keep up and receive quality instructional time.

“For the district to be true to its strategic plan of commitment to respecting diversity, it needs to provide students with more mentoring and tutoring, instead of relying on discipline and suspensions to control behavior,” she recommended.  “The goal is to ensure that all students are successful.”

Jeanne knows that the graduation rate of students for color can improve, because Rogers High School looked at those issues, changed their practices and moved from a 53 percent to an 83 percent graduation rate for students of color.

Another effort of the NAACP Education Committee is to urge that the curriculum be more inclusive, to teach everyone’s history, especially given “the browning of America.”

“Teachers need to understand how to teach children of color so that the curriculum is relevant to them, as well as to all students,” Jeanne said.

Part of the solution is to recruit and retain more teachers of color.

In addition to addressing disproportionate discipline and curriculum relevance, the NAACP also encourages the school district to provide training so the teachers are more culturally competent.

That committee also selects students each year to receive scholarships to attend higher education.

She has served on the Superintendent’s Working Group and the Diversity Advisory Committee.

In addition, she has taught in the Education Department for EWU and has been a quarterly professor in the Africana Studies Department since March 2014. 

This educator places a high priority on community service, specifically programs that support the success of youth. 

In addition to actively supporting the NAACP, she is a member and president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and on its Farwest Reclamation and Retention Committee, plus The Links, Inc., Western Area Regional Elections Committee, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Capital Campaign Committee, African American Education Committee, Diversity Advisory Council for Spokane Public Schools and Superintendent’s Work Group, and member of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. 

She and her daughter, Brittany Baynes Black of Atlanta, Ga., have published poems in the National Black Child Development Institute’s calendars.         

Her son, Samuel Baynes, III, is a pharmacist in Vancouver, Wa.  She is grandmother of seven-year old Brielle.

For information, call 209-2425.

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