Monday, October 9, 2017

Have You Bought Wisdom?

Dr. Tony L. Burks, Educator and Writer, has written an amazing book, Bought Wisdom: Tales of Living and Learning. One of the things I cherish about my relationship with my great grandparents is the wisdom they shared with me. Often times, it was their stories that taught me how to forgive, love and embrace life as it comes.

Dr. Burks is an amazing story teller and his book is nothing short of a great example. Below are my thoughts and perspective of such life changing and inspiring experiences shared in Bought Wisdom.

Bought Wisdom displays the importance of experiences. Life teaches us how to feel comfortable with our ability when society can quite often make us feel as if our abilities aren't good enough. Dr. Burks experiences gave me hope in knowing that greatest is an endless journey, one in which we are steadily building our skill sets and stretching ourselves to do more than what's comfortable. In order to get to this place, we have to be willing to accept our capacity to learn.

As an Educator, Bought Wisdom showed me the power of having patience during the process. It helped me to connect the dots around the purpose in our pain. In order to see this, we have to know the limits of our capacity. This translates the pain of our experiences into purpose.

Learning is on going! Dr. Burk's tales of living and learning expresses heartfelt moments that reflects the power of applying what you've learned to healing not only the wounds of your past, but others as well. Sharing your story builds, inspires and elevates self actualization. One thing I've learned from Bought Wisdom is that the power of story telling helps to inspire us to our greatest potential while pushing us into greatness.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Bloody Hands

Unarmed, Black and Brown men, women, boys and girls being harassed, chased down, targeted, beaten, wounded, abused and KILLED in communities across this country. More outrage over dogs being fought than innocent lives been taken by the corruption of a system that was never designed for all to succeed. Americans being shot down in the streets by police officers who should be protecting citizens and policing crime. But it seem as if America has it backwards to where officers are policing citizens and protecting crime. Strengthening injustice through profiling stereotyping, labeling and targeting the least of them. America, there's blood on your hands. 

Preventing women, LGBT, veterans, disabled mentally ill, immigrants and marginalized groups from having back, human rights determines what side of history you will be on. In 2017, more groups that are not of the main, elite, White, Christian class are fighting for basic human rights to simply be able to walk down the street without being robbed, attached, profiled or gunned down. The hatred that keeps us divided also destroys the moral fiber of the American dream that we want to believe is not a nightmare for man. America, there's blood on your hands. 

America, your bloody hands have never been clean. We're suffocating from the hatred, injustice and blatant disregard of human life. Bloody hands that chain our children to failure, abandons our seniors and veterans, criminalizes people of color, shuns gays, bans Muslims, ships off immigrants and casts down women equality and empowerment all because of fear that those different from you will rise above the oppressive, dehumanizing expectations set. Bloody hands, blood on your hands, the blood of the people flood America's soil and will eventually drown the raise the bodies of innocent slain and cover the oppressors. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Pulling the Plug on Affordable Healthcare

Healthcare Reform is needed as it effects our lifespan. If we don't have adequate and equitable
resources to survive, then the least of them won't. We have to change systematic, oppressive notion of survival of the fittest when it comes to policies that govern our lives.Each school year, every season, as surely as time passes by, the neglect and lack of concern for equitable, quality and affordable healthcare for all Americans weighs in our education system. We often fail to look at the importance of affordable healthcare for families who have young children, those caring for their parents or loved ones or battling chronic illnesses. Policy makers have to over look how policy becomes the biggest threat to our health because of the lack of reliable resources. However, in reality we know that they are are.

The effects of affordable healthcare on mental wellness in our communities that attributes to several things including homelessness, crime, abuse, neglect, homicide and most importantly the early development of children. More families are disadvantaged at the early development stage creating more roadblocks to success for their family. In fact, it's a cycle that keeps the unprivileged, disadvantaged, overwhelmed and overlooked citizens oppressed.

We all play a role in the growing number of children developing learning disabilities due to poor living conditions, hazardous environments and the lack of proper healthcare. Children who are neglected and come to school without adequate hygiene or nourishment are victims to the lack of integrity this country has for it's own.

How Can We Help:
1. Support local church/ non profit food pantries
2. Advocate for quality grocery stores in food desserts
3. Write your local elected officials; hold them accountable
4. Post about it on Social Media to build awareness
5. Sign online petitions that support affordable healthcare reform
6. Ask questions in public meetings on how we can help
7. Stay up to date on affordable healthcare reform
8. Donate hygiene supplies to local schools

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

I'm With Her!

It's time for us to accept that women are next in line to run the world. . . and I'm here for it. 

One of the greatest roles in my life has been to be the Chairman of a foundation supporting grandparents raising school aged children in honor of my great grandmothers; Lillie's Foundation and a stellar, innovative, all girls Charter school building tomorrow's global leaders; Ivy Preparatory Academy. It's a great privilege to honor, support and empower women, especially the Black, Brown and mixed raced women who have led, taught, carried, motivated, birthed, reared, protected, celebrated and created our people. 

Here's why I'm with her! 

  • Women leadership matters
  • Women bring a different perspective to the table 
  • Women think critical about dollars and cents 
  • Women think about the entire picture in a more critical way
  • Women understand the importance to removing barriers that impede upon the success of all 
It's important for us to train our young boys and girls to work together, support and celebrate each other. It's equally important for us to show that gender doesn't automatically qualify you to hold a certain role or have a certain degree of power. Empowering women to be leaders doesn't take away the influence of manhood. 

Our young girls are tomorrow's global leaders and we want to see our sisters, daughters, nieces, god children, students and friends break through the glass ceiling and surpass the successes of our past and present. In order to do that, we have to be intentional about how we build success pathways but that requires us to be present, engaged, resourceful and consistently in-tune with their dreams, hopes, fears and aspirations. This is why at Ivy Preparatory Academy, we are #IvyStrong; and it's why I'm with her! I believe in our girls. 

Check out how we're building tomorrow's global leaders, our girls! #Ivy 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Institutionalized Slavery: The American School to Prison Pipeline

Companies that supported Jim Crow, pay women less than men, have discriminatory hiring practices against those who look, speak or are culturally different also support the school to prison pipeline. "Poverty and prison are a billion dollar industry!" Therefore there's direct connection to companies that won't hire felons once they've served their time and reenter society, yet they are apart of the problem that causes innocent people to get trapped into a system for rehabilitation of criminals just to fill a seat. Imagine if we were more intentional about filling the seats in classrooms that we are about filling beds in prisons.

In order for more of our children to find academic success, stakeholders need to be equally engaged, empowered and educated on and in the policy making process. All stakeholders, not just the middle and upper class citizens, but all stakeholders. If policy makers are looking to implement policy around attendance but don't talk to communities with equitable transportation resources or parents working 2-3 jobs, then the intent is for their child(ren) to become a statistic. It's time out for us to implement policies that protect some and police others. 

On the grassroots level, we must find ways to unlock those students who have been and targeted on the prison track. We must also create healthy transitions and success plans for students who struggle with certain academic areas, those who don't want to go to a four year college and the youth and adults who have served time. The revolving door and reentry to prison can be closed by the people. Public policy has a stamp on human life! Attendance, suspension and even discipline policies all have bias. They are designed to fix a targeted problem that our schools are being the driving mechanism driven by the our societal prejudices. We have to be mindful of our unconscious bias towards those who look like us and those who don't.

The United States has 25% of world's population in prisons.
The United States has over half of it's prison population Black or Latino, large numbers of males.
The United States has 2.3 million citizens are housed in prisons. 

We spend more money on citizens in prisons than we do on children in schools, seniors in nursing homes, veterans in hospitals or homeless families in shelters. If you want to know the intent, follow the money. It's clear that the wealthy are still racking in dollars off the backs of those they disenfranchise and leave us scrambling for the change. It's time for the disenfranchised citizens to do what Dr. King was calling for before this country and it's politics killed him. Organize, unify and educate in order to break the inequities in our economic, education and justice systems.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Going 1/2 Crazy

It's often hard to balance the stress brought on by societal pressures. No one is exempt for dealing with life but how we survive is based on what we do to maintain balance  That is why every day I start my mornings off in thanksgiving. How you start your day is important in helping you maintain balance. Despite the things that happen along your journey, it's important that you control your settings; mind, body and soul. In order to be in control of your spirit, mind and body you must realize that the only the you can control is you. You are responsible for your choices, decisions and actions. What makes you smile is knowing that regardless if the ceiling collapses, your foundation is intact.

"No matter what they take from me, they can't take away my dignity. Because the greatest love of all is happening to me, learning to love yourself, is the greatest love of all!" There are three things necessary to maintain mental wellness. Self awareness, self respect and self empowerment. Being aware of who you are builds self acceptance that drives self respect which enhance self empowerment. Too many times we rely on society and other people to validate who we are. We give society, which determines the value of life based of the color of your skin, wealth and social class. If you don't take time to rejuvenate your mind, body and soul, then you won't be strong enough to survive.
Most people allow the media to dictate what they wear, believe in, listen to, like, aspire to be, etc. We allow outside influences to tell our story not realizing that who tells the story has the power. I am a firm believer in counseling and therapy because it helps us balance the pressures of life we face while maintaining the ability to tell our story. Having spiritual, marriage, anger management counseling, advisors, mentors, therapists or a close confidant provides a safe space to share, release  It's amazing how people would prefer not to seek wisdom but rather post about their challenges on social media and gain likes but not liberty. There's a difference in how you share your story that determines if you reach self actualization. How you tell your story matters.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Parents Just Don't Understand

"You know parents are the same. No matter time nor place. They don't understand that us kids are going to make some mistakes. So to you, all the kids all across the land there's no need to argue, parents just don't understand!" - Fresh Prince of Bel Air - Will Smith 

Being a part of a team that changed the game in how we engaged communities and families in Atlanta has been simply amazing. There have been many lessons learned along the way that I believe truly helps parents and students find their voices and reaffirms the community's role in helping students find success. 

Parenting is such a critical aspect of life. Parents influence how we learn, live, play, process things, interact with others, develop, grow and ultimately succeed in life. So you can image how much more difficult these critical things become for children who experience the death, separation of or absence of their parent(s). 

Students, teachers, school leaders, advocates, communities, even elected officials are asking where are the parents? It's true. Recent meetings about stopping school closings have been heavily attended by Atlanta residents, alumni, community organizations, students but very few parents. In fact, many would argue that the common denominator between failing schools, the school to prison pipeline, defiant behaviors in schools and communities are parents. Everyone is asking, where are the parents?

Most would agree that parents are our children’s first educator. In fact, major influences after parents are our families and communities. The role of parents and adults raising school aged children is critical. Parent and family engagement is a nationwide dilemma, causing us to ask why more parents aren’t actively present and engaged in schools. The overarching focus has been the search for the masses of parents that represent the numbers of children being suspended, expelled, labeled as failing, being pushed in special education or remedial programs and ultimately being failed in schools. I would like to challenge educational leaders, advocates and stakeholders to consider the ways that parents are connecting to the academic success of their students and how can we empower them where they are to help build more effective successful pathways for all students.

What are some ways that parents are involved?

1.     Registering children for school
2.     Getting children to school
3.     Ensuring students have uniforms
4.     Completing paperwork
5.    Signing off on homework/projects
6.  Volunteering

These areas may seem small for those who don't struggle with shelter and homelessness, economic
      challenges but getting your child(ren) to school safely is one of the most intimate times between children and parents, especially for those parents who battle extreme circumstances effecting livelihood, safety and security of their family. 

How can school Districts be more intentional about engaging and empowering parents?
By hearing and helping parents find their voices
. By supporting parents and families Pre K - 12 
. Providing communication in a timely manner 
. Providing transportation to school and District family engagement events 
. Providing child care at APTT, parent teacher conference days, enrollment days and report card/curriculum nights

One thing that would help parents become more engaged is the school's intentional family engagement program design that helps all families find success. Engagement is not a cookie cutter program designed for just happy and positive moments. Intentional engagement of families causes us to look at what does success look like for all families and the barriers that prevent it? How can schools and school Districts help the parents they serve find success so that the students we serve are successful? Too often success is tied to a standardized test, the number of parents who attend a workshop or the amount of monies donated or fund-raised for the school. It's not that parents just don't understand, it may be that we don't quite understand parenting and families the way that we think we do. 

Engagement is a two way street!