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.
Earlier this month, parents were excited to announce Nashville Rise’s next step. As of October 2017, Nashville Rise transitioned from being a program of Project Renaissance to becoming its own independent, volunteer-led nonprofit organization. Current parent leaders will fill leadership positions and drive and lead parent advocacy efforts in Nashville.
Over the next few weeks, the parents and grandparents who are a part of Nashville Rise will share their personal stories on our blog. You will see how their various life experiences have fueled their passion for high-quality education and why they are a part of Nashville Rise.
Need a Good School for Your Kid? I’m Here to Tell You That You Have Options
My mom used to say, “Allison, you have two things against you, you’re female and you’re Black—and because of that, you’ll have to work harder than your peers your whole life.” And she was right.
In school, I was an average student while my sister made straight A’s. I remember hearing someone say little Black girls like me would never amount to anything but a baby mama.
With that statement running through my mind I worked my butt off and on June 1, 2002, I walked across the stage and accepted my high school diploma—making me one of the few in my family to graduate from high school.
Both of my parents are college graduates. As a result of that, they always made sure my sister and I went to the best schools so that we could both go to college.
I can remember my mom stressing the importance of finishing school, doing well and going to college. And with their voices in the back of my mind, I took my parents’ advice, attended and graduated from Auburn University in May of 2007.
Two years later, August 13, 2009, I had my daughter. That was the scariest time of my life. When she entered into this world, I realized that I held her success in the palm of my hand. I didn’t want that responsibility.
I worried everyday about how I would provide. I wondered what she would be like when she grew up, and if I could be a good mother to her. I had questions and needed answers, but soon realized that there was no perfect recipe for parenting—I’d just have to rely on my instincts and focus on providing the best life for my daughter that I could.
I HAD HEARD BAD THINGS ABOUT THE SCHOOLS AROUND US, SO I KNEW I WOULD NEED TO LOOK FOR OTHER OPTIONS.When I began my search for a quality school in Nashville for my soon-to-be kindergartner, I knew nothing about the school process. I had heard bad things about the schools around us, so I knew I would need to look for other options. That year I toured what seemed like thousands of schools. I even considered moving out of Davidson County, but my budget would not allow me to do that.
One day I stumbled upon a community event for parents at Tennessee State University. At this event I finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel after meeting with a school leader who, in minutes, walked me through options I didn’t even know I had.
I rushed home, got on the computer and spent the entire night searching for high-quality options for my daughter. After touring about five schools, I found a great option for my baby.
Because of all the volunteer opportunities and time I spent at my daughter’s school, I was introduced to Nashville Rise. I couldn’t believe there was an organization out there empowering parents and advocating for kids. So, I joined. And because of Nashville Rise, I was able to engage and empower parents around school quality and choice.
I’m dedicated to this work to elevate the voices of parents who, like me, felt like they didn’t have a voice. Parents who, maybe at one time, were told that they would never amount to anything and believed it.
I’m here to let the lady who said that little Black girls like me would be nothing more than a baby mama know that I’m more than that. I’m a doctor when my kids are sick, I’m a taxi cab driver, I’m a counselor when there’s meltdowns at home, and I’m a cheerleader.
But most importantly, I’m an engaged parent and no one can take that away from me.
Interested in reading more Education Post blogs? Visit their website.