Trumaine McCaskill is one of the 10th-grade history teachers at Oakland Mills High School. He is not only an educator but also a passionate advocate for his beliefs. He attended Clayton High School, a predominantly white school in North Carolina. He had no real direction in 9th and 10th grade, he only knew that he wanted to go to college. The summer after his 10th-grade year, he read The Autobiography of Malcolm X, the story of Malcolm X’s life and experiences being a black man in America. The autobiography then led Mr. McCaskill to read more about Marcus Garvey and the Black Panther Party, which sparked his love for history. Inspired by his reading about other black leaders, Mr. McCaskill started buckling down with school, changing his outlook on the world, and choosing his friends wisely. After taking some time to think about what he wanted to do after high school, he finally came up with the idea of combining both of his passions – working with children and history.
Mr. McCaskill’s greatest strength as a history teacher is that he tries to get to know all of his students on a personal level to bond with them. “Before I was a history teacher and before you’re a student, we’re both humans,” he said about the importance of building relationships. According to Mr. McCaskill, his greatest weakness is that he has a tough time telling the difference between a fake excuse and a genuine excuse. He describes himself as outspoken because he expresses how he feels even if he has to be careful with his words. He is a fair teacher because he is willing to listen if you tell him about an issue right after it occurred, as long as you do not wait until the last minute. In regards to the student history textbooks that are used in school, Mr. McCaskill believes that there’s a lot of information being left out to make our books more “kid-friendly.” This makes it harder for people who are growing up because there are holes and gaps within the information that they were taught about our true history.
Besides Malcolm X and the male figures in his personal life, Mr. McCaskill’s role model is Jay-Z. He believes Jay-Z has shown that it’s possible to become rich and black without selling out and turning your back on your culture. Jay-Z is also very careful with how he treats hip-hop culture and black culture in general. In his free time, Mr. McCaskill enjoys playing games with his wife and daughter and playing PlayStation alone on his own time.
Although Mr. McCaskill is a very successful man, he does not believe a college degree is totally necessary to achieve “success.” He believes it does help with getting connections, expanding your vocabulary, and getting a decent job, but it is not necessarily needed to accomplish your dreams. He believes that school does prepare us for the real world, “…but not every student utilizes it the way it should be utilized.” He feels that students think a lot of information we learn in school isn’t necessary in the long run, but he believes that it possibly could prepare us for all the little things we have to do and will face in life.
He acknowledges social media disconnects us, and there’s a lot of information that people don’t have access to or have a complete understanding of. He feels like one of the best things that could happen to our country is if people could travel to see what others have to go through in order to help make a difference. We could all use this kind of perspective, and Mr. McCaskill is certainly making a difference in our community through his honest teaching and the connections that he builds with his students.