Living the Work By Joseph Oteng

Living the Work By Joseph Oteng “There must exist a paradigm, a practical model for social change that includes an understanding of ways to transform consciousness that are linked to […]

Living the Work

By Joseph Oteng

“There must exist a paradigm, a practical model for social change that includes an understanding of ways to transform consciousness that are linked to efforts to transform structures.” Bell Hooks

What does it mean to live the work beyond just doing the work. The difference, as espoused by EYEJ Board Director – Curriculum, Habeebah Grimes, is that social justice drives not just her professional motivations but her personal ones as well.

She said, “Every person should have equal opportunity to education and to work; equal protection under the law; equal standing in their life walk.” For her it is a belief in the inherent value of human beings and that appreciating diversity translates into advocating for justice as a global citizen. People are worthy, as they are, no matter who they are. That understanding of the human condition and the ways it impacts how people are able to exist and persist is what guides Habeebah’s life practice in all of its facets.

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Habeebah is an executive board member for EYEJ and helps to lead the curriculum committee. She supports lesson development and seeks to unite social justice education with social emotional learning for the students that EYEJ serves. She is also concerned with the intentional promotion of the EYEJ mission and centering it in her practice of social justice. For her the most meaningful part of her work with EYEJ is being able to design the aforementioned curriculum, but even more so how it provides a voice for youth and amplifies those voices.

As a lifelong Clevelander and a school psychologist, Habeebah has been doing this work and living that same work for much of her life. She has also served as a mental health advocate in academic settings where it was not at the forefront of discussing student development. Currently, she supports students with social and emotional difficulties and consults for schools as Chief Clinical Officer for Positive Education Program. Habeebah is deeply invested in the learning and growth of young people because she believes, wholeheartedly, that they are the dynamic change that our society, the world over, needs. She enjoys the beauty of Cleveland and – always and – appreciates the challenges it poses. She knows that to be of service is to work to address the issues that arise.

Habeebah is a mother, a community member, and proponent of quality education for all. She wants to be part of a positive change and a culture shift. She does that by getting her own children involved in the work that she does.

She said, “We talk about the issues that matter to them; we share knowledge about the world and navigating it.” Her children are entrenched in the same equitable and socially just beliefs that Habeebah has, and that is where her work transcends her work place. She wants to be part of solutions and for her children to do the same. She models the behavior she hopes they will emulate – valuing diversity, proving trustworthiness, and demonstrating a confidence in themselves.

Habeebah said that her guiding quote comes from Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you …plans to prosper you … plans to give you hope and a future.” It’s those plans, coupled with a unwavering hope in humanity, that keep her going, educating, and giving her time to make a difference wherever she is. The work – that is social justice – if you really believe in it, is indistinguishable from you – you are the work, and that is truly something profound.

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