Inaugural 2024 Afrofuturism Student Conference

Imagining Possible Futures

On April 27, 2024, students grades 6 through 12 within 小蓝视频 who identify as Black participated in the Afrofuturism Student Conference. 

Afrofuturism, an artistic movement that spans literature, music, visual arts, and more, is characterized by its futuristic or science fiction motifs, which intricately interweave elements of Black history and culture. This groundbreaking event, the first of its kind in our county, ignited imaginations and provided a platform for youth to envision themselves as an architect of their own destiny.

2024 Conference Speakers

Dr. Rachel Vatannia - Keynote Speaker

The Power of Why - Creating More Equitable Systems That Center and Sustain Black Joy and Black Excellence
RYTES of Passage

Dr. Rachel Vatannia radiates warmth and dedication as the Coordinator of Education Services in the San Leandro Unified School District. With a steadfast commitment to nurturing inclusive and welcoming learning environments, Dr. Vatannia passionately engages in various aspects of education, including Whole-child learning, Multi-tiered Systems of Support, College and Career Readiness, and Student and Family Engagement.

Grounded within the intersection of child and adolescent development and culturally responsive pedagogy, Dr. Vatannia's work emphasizes equity and inclusion, ensuring that each student's unique needs are met and celebrated. Her deliberate focus underscores her unwavering dedication to crafting educational experiences that are effective and reflective of the beautiful diversity of all students.

Dr. Vatannia's journey toward expertise and excellence reached a pinnacle with the attainment of a Doctorate in Educational Leadership for Social Justice. This profound theoretical foundation, coupled with her extensive hands-on experience, equips her to navigate complexities with grace and implement strategic solutions with compassion. Alongside her doctorate, Dr. Vatannia holds a Bachelor of Art in Child and Adolescent Development and a Master’s Degree in Education and Curriculum Design, further enriching her holistic approach to education.

Jeremy Arey

Digital Art Space: The Afrofuturism AI Experience

Jeremy Arey's career journey showcases a blend of innovative thinking and a commitment to inclusivity and cultural relevance. With a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Leadership from Arizona State University and an Associate degree in Japanese Language from Foothill College, Jeremy has built a foundation that combines strong leadership with a deep understanding of diverse cultural perspectives. His experiences, including a meaningful role as a caregiver, have imbued him with resilience, empathy, and an ability to manage complex challenges with grace and efficiency.

In professional settings, Jeremy has consistently demonstrated his capability to transform challenges into successes. Whether revitalizing store operations as a Store Manager and Regional Representative, or fostering environments of genuine customer engagement, his approach to leadership is marked by a commitment to excellence and a drive to create positive change. His innovative use of accessible tools to streamline operations and enhance learning environments speaks to his resourcefulness and forward-thinking mindset.

As Jeremy steps into the role of Strategic Innovation Architect, his focus is on leveraging his extensive experience to develop culturally relevant curriculums, workshops, and operational frameworks. His work with Culturally Restorative Learning Supports, LLC exemplifies his dedication to making a meaningful impact through inclusive and innovative strategies. Jeremy's journey is not just about the roles he has held, but the positive influence he aims to have on the communities and industries he touches, reflecting a blend of ambition and a genuine desire to contribute to meaningful change.

Sherinda Bryant

Creative Writing: "I Was, I Am, and I Will Be!"
Culturally Restorative Learning Supports (CRLS)

Sherinda is a passionate educator, social justice advocate, and innovative curriculum developer who propels multicultural education forward through her visionary work. With a distinguished career spanning over a decade in the Bay Area, Sherinda has skillfully navigated roles as an Instructional Associate, English teacher, Black Student Union advisor, and Social Justice elective teacher, culminating in her recognition as a 2019 Innovative Teacher by the California Teachers Association.

Currently immersed in studying Culturally Restorative theory and pedagogy, Sherinda's educational philosophy focuses on fostering a sense of belonging, boosting student confidence, that as a result will drive academic progress. Sherinda uses Afrofuturism, an exciting blend of speculative fiction, history, cultural aesthetics and future design thinking, as a vibrant backdrop for critical engagement with literature and social issues.

As the visionary founder of the Afrofuturism Discovery Academy and the director of Culturally Restorative Learning Supports (CRLS), Sherinda creates spaces where students can see themselves reflected in the curriculum, affirming and restoring their positive identities. She also co-founded the Redwood Learning Collective, extending educational and wellness support to all students, with an emphasis on historically underserved communities.

Sherinda's dynamic projects under C.R.L.S, LLC, including the dialogue-building initiative 'Finding Common Ground' and the 'Baadaye Scholars' youth leadership program, exemplify her commitment to enriching cultural learning experiences and mentorship.

Yet, Sherinda's talents and interests extend beyond her educational endeavors. As a singer-songwriter, she infuses her deep, meaningful lyrics with the same passion and insight that inform her professional work. She loves the thrill of experiencing live music, trying new recipes, and immersing herself in the Afrofuturism genre, forever eager to discover more about this captivating artistic and cultural movement.

Veronica Talton

Music & Movement: Afrofuturism - The Arts, Now & Next
Talton Consulting LLC

Veronica Talton is a performing arts educator in the San Francisco Bay Area with over three decades of experience in classroom music, choir, piano and musical theater. She is passionate about public education as well as championing the rights of the arts and racial justice. Throughout her career, Veronica has been intentional about enhancing the inner strength of African American students through the arts, history and culture while blending social emotional learning strategies. In 2020, Veronica founded an arts education consulting business which specializes in fine arts education. Veronica’s Arts Find© curriculum explores notable artists in the performing, visual and culinary arts through an African American lens.

In May of 2023, Veronica was awarded the Laverne Owens Community Service Award by the Santa Clara County Alliance of Black Educators. This award is for a person who has made a significant impact in the city, region, state, or nation by advancing the education of African American children and youth and has enhanced the quality of life of children, youth, and adults. Veronica is an active member of the Tabia African American Theater Ensemble and is involved in educational advocacy at the county and state level. Developing creativity and self expression in others and advocating for the underprivileged are her passions.

Telice Summerfield

Turf Dancing

I am a professional Turf dancer and I have been practicing this style of dance for about 10 years. I got into Turfin because I’ve always loved to dance but often lacked access to professional resources that could help me enhance my skills. Yearning for a place to belong, I turned to the streets. Street dancing includes many styles, but we all share a common struggle: financial access to formal structures of dance. We dance on the streets because it is a public stage that embraces us. Fortunately, we are creating new spaces of opportunity for people who want to learn to dance through programs like this. Please join us on April 27th to celebrate our creative and collective power!

Dr. Zoni Boyer

Coordinator, Center for Access and Engagement

Email: zboyer@smcoe.org

Phone: (650) 802-5639

Allison Gamlen

Coordinator, Visual and Performing Arts

Email: agamlen@smcoe.org

Phone: (650) 802-5335