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Monday, June 24, 2024

Black Teacher Who Taught at the Same High School For 47 Years Finally Retires

JD Sweet

Nationwide — After dedicating 47 years to teaching history, Mr. JD Sweet is retiring from his role as a social studies educator at Olympic High School in Bremerton, Washington. His career, which began at Central Kitsap High School in 1977, marked him as the school’s first Black teacher.

Sweet faced challenges early on, with some students, parents, and colleagues unhappy about having a Black teacher in a position of authority.

“It was the first time, I’m sure, there were white students that had a Black person in a position of authority over them,” Mr. Sweet told 11 Alive.

Despite criticism and complaints, Sweet persisted. He recalled considering quitting but felt a calling to continue his work.

“God said, ‘J.D., there’s work to be done here,'” Sweet said.

According to Sweet, his teaching philosophy emphasized critical thinking beyond basic academics. He encouraged students to analyze and question information, preparing them for a world that demands more than just factual knowledge.

In 1985, Sweet sparked controversy by inviting a communist speaker to address his class during the Cold War. The event led to a barrage of hateful messages, but Sweet stood by his decision, believing in the importance of confronting controversial topics.

Reflecting on his career, Sweet expressed concern over students’ excessive reliance on cell phones and believes in nurturing their creativity and interpersonal skills.

As he bids farewell to teaching, Sweet expressed gratitude to all the students he has taught over the years.

“To all students I’ve had an opportunity to serve, it was my honor,” Sweet said. “So many of you made me so proud. Somebody was listening. Somebody was paying attention.”