It was more than 15 years ago. The former high school and middle school English teacher was a PhD student at Stanford, one of 12 fellows in a program called Cultivating New Voices among Scholars of Color, sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English.
For its spring retreat the group was hosted at the UW by Paris’ mentor, English professor Dr. Juan Guerra. During their visit, the group met Dr. James Banks, who gave them a presentation on the work of the Center for Multicultural Education, which he founded in 1992.
“I’d already known about Dr. Banks’ work, and his reputation as a founder of multicultural education,” Paris said. “I first learned about it as a high school teacher when my principal gave me an article by Dr. Banks on different types of educational knowledge.”
When he met Banks, Paris said he could have never imagined he’d one day have the opportunity to build upon the legacy of his work.
“And all these years later, here I am,” he said. “To be the inaugural James A. and Cherry A. Banks Professor of Multicultural Education is beyond a dream.
“And then there’s the fact that James Banks did his doctorate at Michigan State, where my wife Rae and I were professors for the past seven years. And that my mentor way back when I visited the UW was Juan Guerra, chair of the UW’s Ethnic Studies program and a UW professor of English where Rae is now an assistant professor of creative writing—those sorts of meant-to-be connections in the work are so important to me.”