2013 Black Excellence Awards Education Honoree Diamond Suggs

March 15, 2013

BE Paper_2013.inddDiamond Suggs has been a Milwaukee Public Schools teacher for his entire 14-year career. He’s currently in his fi rst year at Clarke Street Elementary School, where he’s enjoying the relatively low stress level of teaching K-5 kindergarten. Prior to coming to Clarke Street, Diamond taught at the middle-school level.

A Milwaukee native, Diamond graduated from Solomon Juneau Business High School. It was at Juneau, as a sophomore, that he was fortunate to have “the best teacher I ever had.” Larry Gross taught social studies there and had an everlasting effect on Diamond. “He taught me so many things, he was just an amazing teacher,” he says. “I had him for several different classes. He gave me my foundation for black history, and I just ran with it.” After meeting Gross, Diamond knew that teaching urban kids, especially helping them learn about their history, was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.

Diamond earned his bachelor’s degree from Alabama State University in 1999 and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Cardinal Stritch University in 2004.

Working with very young children is a welcome change for Diamond. “Things are going great in K-5,” he says. “It’s not as stressful as middle school, where there’s a lot of drama, and issues at home, outside of school.” In K-5, he says, “The kids come in, they want to be here, they’re excited about learning. The parents are very involved, the parents are here. I still like working with older children, though,” he says.

Toward that end, he’s planning to become a member of 100 Black Men of Milwaukee in the coming weeks. And, he is a member of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Alliance of Black School Educators, where he earlier was an assisting board member for two years. He’s now working with the vice president of the Alliance, trying to help urban youth get scholarships for college based on their ACT scores.

Diamond also is a member of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations, a national study and research group that tracks slavery to the U.S. “We’re trying to get a grasp of why we do the things we do, the choices we make, why our relationships with each other are not what they should be,” he says.

Here in Milwaukee, Diamond feels he still has a lot of work to do as far as serving the community. “My overall goal as an educator is to produce model/productive citizens and potential scholars,” he says. “I can understand college is not for everyone, that not everyone is college-bound, but we can still work on establishing good morals and values in all of our young people.” Diamond has been teaching long enough, he says, that he occasionally runs into former students who, along with their parents, thank him for helping set them on the right path.

Diamond has a true passion for his job. “If I could do this job for free, I would, simply because I love children, I love to help people,” he says. “This is what God put me here to do.”