By Peggy Schulz
Diamond Suggs has been a Milwaukee Public Schools teacher for his entire 14-year career. He’s currently in his first year at Clark Street Elementary School, where he’s enjoying the relatively low stress level of teaching children at the K-5 level. Prior to coming to Clark Street, Suggs taught at the middle-school level in MPS.
A Milwaukee native, Suggs graduated from Solomon Juneau Business High School. It was at Solomon Juneau, as a sophomore, that he was fortunate to have “the best teacher I ever had.” Larry Gross taught Social Studies there and had an everlasting effect on Suggs. “He taught me so many things, he was just an amazing teacher,” Suggs says. “I had him for several different classes. He gave me my foundation for black history, and I just ran with it.” After meeting Gross, Suggs knew that teaching urban kids, especially helping them learn about their history, was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.
Suggs got his Bachelor’s Degree from Alabama State University in 1999 and a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Cardinal Stritch University in 2004.
Working with very young children is a welcome change for Suggs. “Things are going great in K-5,” Suggs says. “It’s not as stressful as middle school, where there’s a lot of drama, and issues at home, outside of school.” In K-5, Suggs says, “The kids come in, they want to be here, they’re excited about learning. The parents are very involved, the parents are here. I still like working with older children, though,” Suggs says.
Toward that end, he’s planning to become a member of 100 Black Men of Milwaukee in the coming weeks. And, he is a member of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Alliance of Black School Educators, where he earlier was an assisting board member for two years. He’s now working with the vice president of the Alliance, trying to help urban youth get scholarships for college based on their ACT scores.
Suggs also is a member of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations, a national study and research group that tracks slavery to the U.S. “We’re trying to get a grasp of why we do the things we do, the choices we make, why our relationships with each other are not what they should be,” Suggs says.
Here in Milwaukee, Suggs feels he still has a lot of work to do as far as serving the community. “My overall goal as an educator is to produce model/productive citizens and potential scholars,” Suggs says. “I can understand college is not for everyone, that not everyone is college-bound, but we can still work on establishing good morals and values in all of our young people.” Suggs has been teaching long enough, he says, that he occasionally runs into former students who, along with their parents, thank him for helping set them on the right path.
Suggs has a true passion for his job. “If I could do this job for free, I would, simply because I love children, I love to help people,” Suggs says. “This is what God put me here to do.” And, the fact that Suggs has done it so well has earned him the Black Excellence Award as an Educator for 2013.