Patricia “Pat” Payne has seen and experienced a lot.


A child of the 1940s, who attended high school in the ’50s
and worked as an educator during the height of the Civil Rights Movement in the




’60s, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that race — specifically racial
equality — is high on her list of concerns and causes.


It’s what Payne has spent most of her career as an educator
fighting for … whether in the schools or via the curriculum.Pat Payne


For a little over 52 years, Payne has served IPS in various capacities.
A former elementary school teacher and former director of the Crispus Attucks
Museum of African American History, Payne currently is director of the Office
of Racial Equity.


The proud graduate of Shortridge High School (Class of 1957)
is a true advocate for multicultural education in the district. Throughout her
career at IPS, Payne was named the 1984 IPS Teacher of the Year and was
inducted into the Shortridge High School Hall of Fame in 2016.


Of all her accomplishments, Payne said she is most proud of
being an IPS teacher and of her deep compassion for instilling a love for education
in all children, but specifically black children.


Payne recently took a few moments to talk about growing up
in Indianapolis, her life as an IPS educator and graduate, as well as her
vision and dreams for the district.



Early life in
Indianapolis …

I grew up with both parents, two brothers and a sister. I am
the eldest of the four (children). My father was the only black man to own a
city market where he sold fruits and vegetables. At the time, he experienced a
lot of racism for being the only black man owning a business. However, he
taught my siblings and me to always love and he always protected us from the
ugliness of racism. All I knew from my parents and growing up was happiness and


Your experience at Shortridge

During the late 50’s I wanted to go to Crispus Attucks
because Attucks ministered to black students. However, my mother and father
wanted me to go to a college preparatory school.  I appreciate the education I received at


My IPS education
prepared me for …

Shortridge prepared me well for college.


Fondest IPS memory as
a student…

I really appreciated going to history class and having Mr.
Ray Aberson as my teacher. Mr. Aberson made sure his students saw themselves in
the curriculum he was teaching. He certainly did not leave the black students
out on black history, and I appreciated him for that.


Your life since
graduating …

Both of my parents went to Indiana University, Bloomington
(IU), so I went there because it was all I knew at the time. I earned my master’s
degree in education and my Administrative License from IUPUI.  I served on the IU Alumni Board of Directors
and also have a scholarship in my name at the IUPUI School of Education, which goes
to African-American students.

Aside from college, I started teaching in 1962. I taught
second grade and I taught in the IPS district my entire career. I absolutely
loved teaching. … I miss it.


accomplishments …

All of my experiences have made me who I am today. I give
Shortridge credit for making me who I am — a strong black woman. Traveling to
South Africa, Egypt and Israel all have been amazing experiences that I am
proud of as well. But teaching is my No. 1 proudest accomplishment. Specifically
teaching in IPS, because I love this district!


Vision/Dreams …

I want IPS to become a strong advocate for black children
and families. … My vision is that one day, people will actually really know and
love the genius of black children. My dream is for teachers to learn the
classroom environment for our students and understand our parents’ love. I
unapologetically say, I am an advocate for black children and for this reason I
still serve in the school district — to help shepherd black children.