Educators for Social Justice


Educators for Social Justice (ESJ) is a grassroots, teacher-led professional development group located in St. Louis, MO. Our mission is to develop and support socially just, equitable, and sustainable practices in schools and communities. We are committed to connecting educators across the lifespan and building networks to mobilize resources to promote progressive change. 

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Address: P.O. Box 179151
Richmond Heights, MO 63117
Programming: ESJ has six main initiatives. Our initiatives are unique because they are run by educators for educators.

(1) Educating for Change Curriculum Conference: This is a conference led by and for educators. We invite nationally known educational leaders to give keynote presentations. The conference features dozens of workshops, interactive curriculum tables displaying social justice curriculum, and organizational resource tables. All of these presentations are led by educators. Approximately 300 people attend each year.

(2) Inquiry to Action Groups (ItAGS): ItAGs are similar study group that come together around a social justice issue or topic. The group studies the issue and collaboratively decides on a plan of action.

(3) Courageous Educator Award: Each year, ESJ solicits nominations for the Courageous Educator Award which recognizes an educator/group of educators that has made recognizable progress on a curricular or community initiative for educational justice and equity.

(4) Educators for Social Justice Teacher Grant: ESJ sponsors a competitive grant application for educators to apply for funds to support social justice education.

(5). #Breakthepipeline: Educators for Social Justice is committed to educating teachers, parents, and community members about how to interrupt institutionalized racism as it is manifested through the school-to-prison-pipeline. ESJ is partnering with community organizations to urge all metro school districts to eliminate out of school suspensions for K-3.

(6). Racial Equity Curriculum Partnership: ESJ and We Stories are collaborating to present a curriculum partnership for mentor and apprentice teachers. They will work together over the course of a year to plan, implement, and reflect on interactive read alouds focused on racial equity and associated activities for K-3rd graders.
"Teaching about social justice is gratifying and exhausting. The ESJ conference empowers and validates this work, and allows you to "fill up" your heart and mind for the work ahead."
-Nicole Post, Conference Planner & Teacher

"ESJ is a very grassroots form of professional development. It is organic and it has many voices: students, faculty, teachers, community members. It is organic because the learning experiences emerge from the ideas of a lot of different people and not this preplanned professional development session where someone comes in and teaches us something. There are many personal connections. It is never a stale experience ever. You feel like your voice was heard. I think that was a very drastic change from the professional development traditionally offered to teachers."
-Michelle Perez, Associate Professor

"I've seen individual teachers be completed transformed by the Educating for Change conference every year. I watch life being breathed back into individual teachers and I know individual teachers that were about to quit or they were completely depressed in life because they just didn't feel like they were making a different in their students and they were just being weighed down so many things. Then they went to the ESJ conference and it opened their eyes. You don't have to feel isolated and alone."
-Elementary teacher

"ESJ models an innovative form of teacher-led professional development who are seeking to transform educational institutions. ESJ is unique because it crosses school districts, grade levels, and geographic boundaries."
-University educator

"Every year I walk away from the conference feeling affirmed. It provides the opportunity to meet others who are working and hear their stories and see what they are doing and how it is effective. This conference is rooted in the teachers' experiences and giving teachers the chance to showcase the good work they are doing..…"
-Adult education teacher

"All across the country, educators, parents, students, and community members are uniting to create social change - and improve teacher quality. The proliferation of these groups demonstrates the power of teachers working together to improve lives for students and teachers, both inside the classroom and out. ESJ boasts a diverse membership in terms of race, age, years of teaching experience, and teaching context. The group reads common texts, discusses these in relation to teaching practices, conducts action research, organizes for community activism, and participates in consciousness-raising workshops (for example, around labor rights and dismantling racism)."
-Rethinking Schools