CDS Celebrates Black History Month

For the month of February, we honor and recognize Black History Month at Carrollwood Day School. With the help of dedicated parents, faculty, and staff, Carrollwood Day School welcomed speakers, small businesses, and performers to our school this February 2023. It was enlightening to see everyone come together this month to learn, educate and bring awareness to others around us.

January 30th started our month-long celebration and education of black history at CDS. The United Society of Diverse Cultures, a group of CDS students dedicated to diversity and inclusion in our community, spoke at the lower school morning opening to educate our 1st - 5th graders about the importance of celebrating black culture. Kicking off the celebration in the middle school was singer/songwriter, producer, academician, and humanitarian, Dr. Alex Harris.

Dr. Harris is the visionary and co-founder of the Arts Conservatory for Teens (ACT). For more than 10 years, his vision has realized the dreams of over 13,000 thousand youth and teens through an interdisciplinary creative curriculum that prepares students for high school graduation and the workforce. ACT utilizes the performing and visual arts as well as technology and creative critical thinking to educate, empower and enrich the lives of youth and teens, especially teens who are underserved. 

And the CDS Upper School was serenaded by Ms. Gabrielle Roberts. Gabrielle Roberts was born and raised in Tampa, FL. She is a proud Alumnus of Tampa Bay Tech. She is currently pursuing her Associate of Arts degree at HCC with plans to transfer to Tuskegee State University to earn her Bachelor's Degree in Veterinary Medicine.


On Friday, February 3rd, CDS students, faculty, and staff were treated to the amazing southern food of 7th + Grove and Roast. With the mission to be a culturally immersive space that nourishes the soul and nurtures the spirit, this black-owned business was a welcome addition to lunchtime on campus. 

On Friday, February 10th, we had the honor of having Konan's Food Truck give CDS a visit! They helped us celebrate culture and cuisine for Black History Month. They donated BBQ samples of their delicious comfort food. 

Monday, February 13th brought Mr. Fred Hearns to the Bearss Avenue campus. Mr. Hearns is the first Curator of Black History for the Tampa Bay History Center. He came to the History Center after a 32-year career with the City of Tampa as the City’s Human Rights Direction, protecting citizens against discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. A longtime Tampa resident, journalist, author, and community advocate, Mr. Hearns shared his extensive knowledge about Tampa history, and the ever-present effort to unify our community through diversity and inclusion.

CDS' Black Student Union planned and screened a movie night, featuring "Are We There Yet?" for the Upper School students on February 15th. A fun night of food and friendship. 

On Tuesday, February 21st, Attorney Alec Fitzgerald Hall presented to our 6th-grade students. Mr. Hall was appointed by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals as the Federal Defender for the Middle District of Florida. Mr. Hall made history for the Middle District and for the State of Florida, becoming the first African-American to lead the Defender’s Office. Mr. Hall shared his valuable experience and journey to success while emphasizing the importance of education, goal setting and being a person of character.


#CDS Elementary School Celebrates #BlackHistory Month

Elementary students celebrated with each grade level decorating their doors and entering into a contest! The decorated doors were judged on 3 types of criteria; Black History Month content, creativity and student involvement/engagement. Congratulations to 2nd grade for winning 1st place! We loved seeing all the creativity expressed by our #CDSPatriots. 

The USDC Club went to Elementary Students' Classrooms to read books in correspondence to Black History Month! 

Staff Highlights

LaDai Haywood

Ladai Haywood is a Biology and Chemistry teacher in the US Science Department. A product of independent school education, she attended Berkeley Preparatory School before completing her B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies with concentrations in Science, Education, and American History at the University of Central Florida. LaDai went on to pursue her M. Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction at the American College of Education. LaDai shared her reflections on Black History Month:

“Black History Month is significant in my family as we recognize nationally known Black American Trailblazers and the ones in our family. We take this time to reflect on the dreams of my grandparents and great-parents that were deferred due to opportunities that were not available to them. They were young adults who grew up and raised children in the midst of the Civil Rights Era in the south (all of my grandparents were born in the late 30's and early 40's). There were sacrifices that had to be made so that their children could live their dreams. I am the first and only person in my immediate family with a Bachelor's and Master's degree. My accomplishments are not mine alone. Black History Month is a time of reflection and celebration of all that we sacrificed and accomplished together as a family.” 




Simone Ferdinand

Simone Ferdinand grew up in Trinidad and earned her B.A. in Engineering Sciences (magna cum laude) at Dartmouth College. She continued her studies at Johns Hopkins University, where she earned an M.S.E. in Chemical Engineering. In 2011, after a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry where she worked to develop two FDA-approved drugs (one for Hepatitis C and the other for Cystic Fibrosis), she decided to pursue a career in teaching. Ms. Ferdinand is a passionate advocate for inquiry and project-based learning, teacher collaboration, and lifelong education. Ms. Ferdinand shared her reflections on this important month: 

“Growing up in Jamaica and then Trinidad, my family traditions are different from those of most Americans. We celebrated Christian holidays as well as Hindu and Muslim festivals like Divali and Eid-ul-Fitr. The biggest celebration in Trinidad is Carnival, which was started by slaves in the late 1700s. The slaves used costumes, dancing, and singing to mock their enslavers. Today, Carnival is an annual 2-day party in the streets with costumes, steel drums, and our local music, called soca. Trinidad's Carnival has inspired Caribbean Carnival celebrations around the world and there are large Carnival celebrations throughout the Caribbean diaspora in cities like London, New York, Toronto, Miami. There is even a Caribbean Carnival in Tampa. As a Science teacher, I am inspired by the three women featured in the movie, 'Hidden Figures' - Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Vaughan. They succeeded despite facing prejudice and racism and made important contributions to their communities and country. I most enjoy getting to know the students and working with my supportive colleagues. I appreciate that CDS is a welcoming community that encourages open-mindedness, risk-taking and a global mindset.”


Brandon Channer

Brandon Channer received his Bachelor's Degree in Religious Studies from Montclair State University. Mr. Channer came to CDS from BridgePrep Academy of Riverview, where he taught 7th-grade civics. He recently started with our LS 5th grade team and has been a wonderful addition to the team! Mr. Channer shared his thoughts on Black History Month:

“I was born and raised in Manchester, Jamaica. A small rural community where agriculture and farming are a way of life. I came to the United States when I was in the 5th grade to live with my father. He did a really good job of raising us. One of my most memorable childhood memories that I can remember is taking family vacations back home to Jamaica to visit family and learn about our culture. As we celebrate Black History Month, the first person that comes to mind is Martin Luther King Jr because of his beliefs for all to be equal. He was fair and just and wanted everyone from all walks of life to be one. Is it important for us to continue to acknowledge our heroes for the next generation to be better and understand and appreciate history. The work was started by courageous individuals and now it's your turn to continue the work for whoever is after you! The thing I value the most about working at CDS is the effort to want to be more diverse. Diversity brings culture and opportunities to work with others that are different but have the same values.”



Aliya Killion

Aliya Killion has been the middle school learning specialist at CDS since 2018. She grew up in New York and earned Bachelor’s degrees in theater and women studies, and her Master’s in educational leadership. After having worked in a professional theater company in New Mexico, she moved to Florida and began working in education as English and exceptional student education teacher. Educational pursuits are a tradition in Aliya’s family- her mother is a retired college professor, her grandmother is a retired New York City Public Schools principal, and her father earned his degrees in history and education before pursuing his career in business and human resources. Both of her sisters and her brother-in-law are currently educators in Florida.

“For me, as we recognize Black History Month at CDS, some of the significant but less commonly taught figures in Black history come to mind. Some of these are the artist Betye Saar, who was part of the Black Arts Movement in the 1970s, Beverly Loraine Greene,  who is considered to be the first American female architect, who was also Black, Audre Lorde, the Black woman poet who was an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ rights, and the photographers Gordon Parks and James Van Der Zee. I think about these individuals and many others because Black people have had an immeasurable impact and influence on society and culture, and it is important to look beyond the people and events that we are very familiar with so that we can keep learning about, and appreciating, the contributions of diverse individuals. I feel fortunate for my daughter and I to be a part of the CDS community. I especially value the culture of growth and collaboration, and the level of commitment to students’ success that is evident at CDS every single day."


Black History Month Painting - Rai Hubingerova

Student Artwork

About The Artist

Hi, I am the artist. My name is Rai Hubingerova, I am a 15-year-old girl, who has always had a passion for art and the expression of the human mind. I believe that every single person on this earth has earned their place, and should stand out in the field they thrive in. Since I could remember, I have always loved contributing to society, from raising money for multiple 3d printers at St. Joseph's hospital by forming “the world's biggest hug”, or going around DC talking to all the congressmen, and the senate offices to bring a better life for foster kids. Nothing in this world should go unseen, and I believe everything has a purpose and that is what brings such beauty into our lives. 

About the Painting

I painted this piece with the intent of shedding light on a very important figure, who rarely gets recognition for her contributions in the civil rights movements. Georgia Gilmore was a woman who risked her income, job, and safety as a human in order to provide those in protest with Martin Luther King jr with food and other necessities to allow them to continue making a change in the United States of America. She promised to disclose the name of those she was helping in order to keep them safe, and she even allowed her own home to be used for gatherings under Martin Luther King Jr in order to organize future protest events. She was most famous for making “The best pork chops in town”, which were actually Martin Luther King Jr’s favorite food. 

A special Thank You to everyone who participated to make this month Special;

Parent Helpers: Angela Smith, Moses Allen Sr., and Crystal Green

Faculty: Sara Tullis & Tony Brewington

Black History Month Planning Committee


BSU Club