Today, Vilson is a teacher, author, activist and father. The New York City native is also the founder of EduColor, a grassroots network of educator-activists, and will be a featured speaker at SXSW EDU 2018.
Vilson has said that his own personal education experience growing up as a minority in the United States education system helped lead him down the path he is on now. “I went to both public and private schools growing up,” he says. “And I was always the only Black and Latino student going to a majority white school.”
While studying at Syracuse, he was the Education Chair of La LUCHA (Latin Undergraduates Creating History in America), through which he ran workshops, study sessions and after-class programs for fellow student members, enjoying the part he played in their education experiences. “It’s where I got my first real taste of teaching,” he explains. “And having people looking at and listening to me was a good feeling.”
Right after graduation, Vilson got a job with the New York City Teaching Fellows program, where he taught at-risk, mostly African-American and Latino students. Fairly soon, he realized that he had found what he was meant to do and went on to earn a master’s degree in mathematics education from the City College of New York. “I always thought of education as a calling,” he says.
Vilson, who currently teaches 7th and 8th grade mathematics at a public school in New York City’s Washington Heights neighborhood, began his teaching in earnest in 2005. For the past 12 years, he has been a dedicated instructor and advocate for his students in his hometown. Throughout these years, he has used his drive and passion to reach out and help his students realize their own previously untapped potential.
He has since been recognized by the United States Department of Education and had his blog named by Scholastic, Inc. on its “Top 13 Teacher Blogs” list. He has also appeared on both PBS and NPR, and has been featured in The New York Times and Washington Post for his outspoken views on education activism. In 2014, he was honored with a Math for America Master Teacher Fellowship.