BY Dollita Okine, 6:35pm June 25, 2024,

Nearly 50 years after being hired as school’s only Black teacher, JD Sweet retires

Sweet has been teaching at Central Kitsap High School for the past three decades. Photo Credit: 11Alive

After over 47 years in the classroom, JD Sweet has retired. Tuesday was Sweet’s last day as a teacher at Olympic High School, where he has taught social studies for the past three years. For three decades before Olympic High, he taught at Central Kitsap High School.

Being the only Black teacher at the school when he was recruited in 1977 infuriated several parents, coworkers, and kids. He told 11Alive, “It was the first time, I’m sure, there were white students that had a Black person in a position of authority over them.”

He considered leaving his position but thought twice about that. “God said, ‘J.D., there’s work to be done here,'” he stated.

The dedicated instructor said he takes pride in teaching his students to think critically, expressing, “Let’s go beyond just the facts, reading, writing, and arithmetic because the world doesn’t run that way.”

He made headlines in 1985 when he invited a communist to speak to his students during the Cold War with the Soviet Union. He recounted that in the days preceding and following the visit, he would receive “30-40” hateful answering machine messages per day. Still, Sweet has no regrets about hosting the event.

Despite his belief that students nowadays spend too much time on their phones and not enough time interacting with one another or being creative, Sweet remarked he is constantly motivated by the potential that high school students possess.

Sweet expressed, “To all students I’ve had an opportunity to serve, it was my honor. So many of you made me so proud. Somebody was listening. Somebody was paying attention.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: June 25, 2024


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