JACKSONVILLE, FL - You never know which historical figure might walk into class at Don Brewer Elementary in Duval County.
That is because when you cross paths with paraprofessional, Angela Riley-Maxwell, she may be portraying someone else. Like the first, female African-American hair care entrpreneur Madam C.J. Walker.
"She started her business when she had problems with her hair. She had alopecia," explains Mrs. Riley-Maxwell, dressed in a white linen dress with a shaw. An exact copy of the picture in one of Walker's biographies.
Throughout Women’s History Month, Mrs. Riley-Maxwell is dressing up as different women that made a big impact on our world today. She has dressed as Mary McLeod Bethune and even Ruby Bridges. With each costume comes a lesson about the struggles and perseverance each historical figure had in his or her life.
Back in February, she dressed up every day for Black History Month and taught children about civil right activist Barabara Rose Johns, President Lincoln and James Weldon Johnson (among many others). Every costume is spot on! For elementary schoolers it is a creative, visual lesson that makes the information stick. Some of her first students from nearly two decades ago still remember it.
"They even named some of the characters they remembered me doing more than 15 years ago," she says with a laugh.
Though she keeps with a theme, Mrs. Riley-Maxwell says she wants to portray people from all walks of life. The lessons are all about the impact that person had on the world.
"They see that I am not discriminating because it our history, is about us. It is about all of us, because we all played a part in our history," she says.