How You Can Advocate for Your Grandchild at School

This blog was originally published on Education Post website. Education Post is a national organization seeking to elevate the voices of the people who matter the most in the movement to improve schools: parents, kids and teachers.

Sylvia Holt is a devoted mother and grandmother who advocates for her grandchildren as part of Nashville Rise. A retired registered nurse, former business owner, Alcohol Awareness instructor and motivational speaker, Sylvia has demonstrated great determination to rise above the many issues facing her through out her life. Recently she stated, “My most important goal in life has been to be the best parent and grandparent I can be. That alone has been most rewarding. God has truly blessed me. I love Him because He has not created the spirit of fear in me. It has allowed me to be adventurous in business, my nursing career and my travels. I have had my ups and downs. But I have never failed to go for my dreams.”

Her dream to become a published author was realized with the release of her memoir. “Between the Pews” is a moving, thrilling and often touching story. She tells how an overprotected childhood left her ill-prepared for what she would face later sometimes in the most unlikely places.


I was a product of the early civil rights era. My entire first 12 years of formal education were spent in the segregated public school system of Charlotte, Tennessee. I went to school in a one-room schoolhouse heated by a pot-bellied stove.

“Separate, but equal,” they told us, but we knew that wasn’t true. Despite the substandard conditions, I excelled in school, graduated and went on to start a family.

When my youngest son turned 1, I decided to go back to school. It wasn’t easy, but in 1978 I became a registered nurse. I worked for 25 years at Baptist Hospital in Nashville, and retired in 1999. Later I went back to nursing and spent more than 12 years working  for Veterans Affairs. In July 2016, my dream of becoming a published author came true when my first book, the Christian memoir “Between the Pews,” was released.

I HAVE DONE WELL IN LIFE AND MY FAMILY IS FINE, BUT I FELT LIKE SOMETHING WAS MISSING. While online one day, I came across a Nashville Rise training about the Achievement School District (ASD) and the state’s lowest-achieving schools, called priority schools.

I went, and I was told 98 percent of the student population in priority schools identified as African-American, Hispanic or other. I learned that priority schools could be viewed as modern-day segregation. This outraged me and led me to join Nashville Rise.


These days, when talking to my church members and friends, I’ve noticed a trend of grandparents raising grandchildren. I joined Nashville Rise to be the voice to move grandparents into action. When I’m at church, in the grocery store or just riding around, I’m always spreading the word about Nashville Rise and the importance of parents taking action.

By joining Nashville Rise, I am better informed and can help to spread the knowledge gained to inform, empower and engage other parents, grandparents and whomever I can tell about the organization. I stand in the gap not just for my own grandchild, but for every child and family across Davidson County. I want parents to know their children deserve the best opportunity to succeed.

Without Nashville Rise I don’t think I would have been informed enough to educate church members and parents on how to advocate for their child’s school, on how to tell others to engage with their elected officials or even have the confidence to go up to my granddaughter’s school and organize parents in a way to improve her school. Nashville Rise has given me the confidence to go out and conquer it all, they have given me a voice as a grandparent I never knew I had and equipped me with the information I needed in order to make change happen.

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