There’s been a lot of attention the past week on how schools, teachers, and students are handling the results of the presidential election. But on that topic, no one has gotten as much attention as Philadelphia third-grade teacher Jasmyn Wright.
Last Wednesday, Wright filmed her students reciting a self-affirmation mantra they repeat every day before class. She posted it shortly thereafter on Facebook, where it has since racked up millions of views.
In a call-and-response pattern, Wright asks her students a series of questions, to which they respond emphatically:
“I’m gonna push through!”
Then Wright rattles off a list of prominent thinkers and political activists, to which the students say: “He pushed through” or “She pushed through.”
Underneath the short video, Wright posted a caption:
“Teaching my 3rd grade black and brown babies to #PushThrough today. Due to unwelcoming, unsettling, and uncomfortable election results, this was our lesson for the day.”
Wright teaches at the Douglass Campaus of the Mastery Charter Schools network. The school, located just west of Temple University in North Philadelphia, is 94.2 percent black.
Wright said the post wasn’t supposed to be political. She knew, however, that her students were feeling a bit uneasy at the end of such a contentious campaign. She wanted to reassure them and refocus them.
“These children live in the same world we do,” she said. “They watch the same TV shows we do. They watch the same news channels we do.”
Wright believes the video has caught fire because so many are seeking affirmation in this uncertain, post-election period.
“People have their own connection and their own personal experiences with pushing through,” she said.
So far Wright has received over 400 messages from around the world, many with folks sharing their own stories of perseverance, she said.
Wright made up the chant about a month ago and says it was inspired by interactions she’s had with her students. She cites, for instance, the student who told her black people couldn’t own fancy cars. It convinced her that the students at Douglass — 85 percent of whom live in poverty — needed a daily reminder of their worth.
“I just went home one night and said, ‘I’m going to teach my children to push through,’” she said.