Originally from St. Lucia, Albert grew up in an Afro-centric, majority Black educational system, which made his move to the United States in 2001 and enrollment in master’s program in education at New York University much more difficult than he had anticipated. He said that assimilating to a society he found to be rife with racism and issues of identity constituted culture shock, particularly as a father and high school science teacher to mostly Black public school students. Albert said he found the educational system in New York “demeaning.”
“After being in the school system, watching the young Black men, inspiring them, talking to them, seeing their issues,” Albert said he decided to create his own curriculum.
He founded the Light and Peace Learning Center, a home-school collective in Brooklyn in 2013.
Albert said he was not satisfied with the curriculum and the disciplinary model at the public school that his then 5-year-old son attended, so he pulled him out. It was crucial to Albert that his son be exposed to the kind of positive, pro-Black and African-based curriculum that he had grown up with as a child.
Before the pandemic, Light and Peace, run cooperatively with about 15 other families at its height, offered the kind of teaching he felt was sorely missing from neighborhood schools. “I would plan classes and teach them from an African perspective,” Albert said. The collective offered languages such as Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia, and Kemetic yoga, from ancient Egypt. The collective, he said, “focused more on the ideology of kinship and origin from creation from Africa, and knowing history from there.”
Before making the transition to remote learning because of the pandemic, Light and Peace ran its collective out of a building in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, where the students would gather every day for instruction that Albert had planned. Albert, some parents of the students and members of the community taught the lessons and shared their knowledge or special skills, such as African dance and creative writing. He also offered after-school homework help for children in the community who attended other schools nearby. Along with activities like martial arts and chess, Light and Peace also ran a daily “eco-adventures” summer camp in which Albert would take students and parents on botanical tours of the city, where students would learn to identify different plant species.
Now, Light and Peace is run exclusively online. Albert tutors and teaches chess to the kids. But the collective mostly serves as a resource for parents, offering them webinars on how to effectively develop their own academic curriculum and how to work with local community organizations to enrich the children’s learning at home. Albert moved to New Jersey in 2018 and is pursuing a doctoral degree in education leadership at North Central University. His graduate course load has required him to step away from teaching full time, he said. He still works with four students online, in addition to teaching his own six children, whose ages range from 2 to 11.
Most of the families learned about the Light and Peace collective because they were already connected to Albert in some way, either as a friend or a friend of a friend. “It was more like a personal type of home-schooling collective,” Albert said. “Because my children were involved, I kept it real personal.”
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