Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Recap: Since I've Been Gone


I'm baaaack!!! It's been quite a few months since my last blog, and I've missed writing so much. I'm going to provide highlights, and hopefully, set the stage for future blog posts.

January

2017 Fort Worth MLK Parade
Photo by Rachel Delira
This was the first parade where both of my children walked with me. My daughter was in her element. You can see her waving, and she just loved the cheers from the crowd. As you can see in the picture below, my son's facial expression hasn't changed much.

2012 Fort Worth MLK Parade
The 2012 MLK Parade was the first time my son walked without me or participated at all. Although he doesn't look too thrilled, he had so much fun. I'm so glad Brandon Rogers, my friend, invited my son and his godson to walk with the men of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.


  • After working for a state legislator, I realized that I liked the freedom and flexibility that his office provided me. That was something that I could not get as a traditional employee. In January 2017, I filed paperwork with my county clerk's office, and I birthed a consulting business, RHN Strategic Group. Initially, I wanted to focus on assisting low-performing schools and coaching teachers. Fortuitously, my first contract was facilitating a board retreat for a local non-profit. 

February


One day, I went upstairs to get ready for our class, and I was taken aback that my daughter enjoyed learning so much that she went to her own bedroom to grab students for her class. Seeing her students brought tears to my eyes. My daughter was two when I stopped teaching, so she doesn't remember me teaching nor was she able to come to my classroom as often as my son did.



  • Fort Worth ISD Eastside Alliance Community Partnership and the Historic Stop Six Initiative sponsored their annual Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) College Fair at Tarrant County College, and I had an opportunity to speak to middle and high school students about applying to various colleges. I was a first-generation college student, and many of the students who attended will be as well. Oh, and I showed the students the trailer of a PBS documentary "All the Difference." The documentary follows two African-American males from the end of their high school career through college. It's definitely a much watch if you've never seen it.




I added the pamphlets from the HBCU Fair to our learning alcove and in my son's room.
  • I used these hashtags on social media to describe my trip: 
Toured the #txcapitol #ATX @TxStatePTA #Rally4AllKids #1K4RallyDay #txlege Resolutions #PVDay #AlphaPhiAlphaDay #AlphaKappaAlphaDay Visited the offices of State Representative Nicole Collier and Representative Ramon Romero, Jr. #TLBC Scholarship Banquet #YTLC2017

Program from Evening Gala

My sister and I at the gala






My sister speaking to panel about engaging Millennials in politics


Pictured with Honorable Candice Quarles (Desoto City Councilmember)

Speaking with Honorable Nina Morris (Lancaster, TX City Councilmember)
The TLBC ended with a Community Awards Breakfast. State Rep. Nicole Collier presented an award to the Honorable Judge Maryellen Hicks.



Notable Firsts of Honorable Hicks:
  • First African-American woman to serve on the Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth
  • First African-American municipal court judge in Fort Worth
  • First African-American woman elected to a district judgeship in Tarrant County 
  • First African-American graduate of the Texas Tech School of Law, where she received her Juris Doctorate
Finally, we ended our trip by returning to the Texas Capitol to visit the African-American Memorial. While there, we ran into some friends from Fort Worth who were with the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education (TACHE) and other organizations to protest SB4.







I returned home to the news that my son had placed second in the science fair. He did tell me that he would have received first place if I didn't forget the due dates for parts of his project.


I will say that this past school year was difficult for the both of us. I noticed in November 2016 that his demeanor towards school had completely changed. He wasn't engaged. He wasn't putting effort into his work. Bottom line, he was just disinterested. I felt like an unfit parent and a failure as a former educator. My friends and his teachers provided me some encouragement by telling me that his behavior was typical for pre-adolescent males.

March

As a single mother of two, with a prepubescent son, I felt so inadequate to meet his needs. I wrote about part of the issue here. In exasperation and desperation, I turned to my male friends for assistance. I needed a mentoring program, a male role model. Something. Big Brothers Big Sisters had a long waiting list. Most of the programs were geared towards older boys or troubled boys. He was neither. He was depressed, withdrawn, but not disrespectful or combative. I was worried about him. Concerned that he had been hurt in some way, but wasn't telling me. If you read my first blog, you'd understand where my heart and mind were.

I just needed him to talk to me, talk to me, TALK TO ME!

I would FIX IT if I knew the problem.

Fortunately, there was a ram in the bush. This new family moved across the street and set up a basketball goal at the end of my driveway. One day, I approached the father and told me my son liked playing basketball and asked if my son could play with them sometime. My son was hesitant at first, but that didn't last long. Soon he was rushing into the house from school, changing into play clothes, and heading out the front door with his basketball in hand. They'd play 3-on-3, and the father would coach my son on his techniques. That was simple. What I was searching for was outside of my front door.

I've taught 4th, 6th, and 8th grade, and this may have been complete naivety on my part, but there's something to masculinity and the expression of emotions. I know that's something that I definitely want to delve into in future blogs.


April

Washington, D.C.: The third visit in 8 months and I'm not a politician or wasn't. Whatever the case, I LOVE DC!

August 2016, I met a woman who worked for the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE). Through our conversation, she informed me that NAPE had a public policy division and membership opportunities that I may be interested in. After that, I started following NAPE on social media and learned that they had an upcoming conference, the National Summit for Educational Equity (NSEE). In December 2016, I submitted a proposal to be a speaker. While I wasn't accepted as a speaker, they did say I could present a poster on the topic at the reception. And that's what led me to DC for the third time in less than a year.



Pictured with Quentin Hart, the Mayor of Waterloo, Iowa
I met Mayor Hart during the networking event on the first night. As we were talking, I learned that he had recently visited Fort Worth for a Men of Color event at Tarrant County College.

Pictured with Lawrencina Oramalu, Program Manager for NAPE
Mayor Hart introduced me to Lawrencina Oramalu at the networking event, and I realized that I flew halfway across the country to meet people who lived in my backyard. Seriously!

Pictured with Dr. Robert Simmons III, the VP of Strategy and Innovation with the Campaign for Black Male Achievement
Prior to meeting Dr. Simmons, I had followed him and the Campaign for Black Male Achievement (CBMA) for sometime on social media. I also joined a few of CBMA's webinars and I receive their newsletters. Hearing Dr. Simmons speak at the luncheon was inspiring, and I'm glad that I took the time to speak to him because it allowed for a continued conversation since returning home.


My takeaway

This was the first conference that I attended where I didn't know anyone, and I left with a new network. While the sessions are good, I believe the continued discussions outside of the sessions are even better. I wish the attendees had the opportunity to connect quarterly to further the discussion and develop plans to impact education. Next time, I'll be more active and engaged and definitely participate to a greater degree in Public Policy Day and the meetings with our legislators.


My sister and I met up on Public Policy Day. We didn't tour the National Mall since we did that during our first visit. However, we did visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). For me, it was a somber experience. We only had two hours before the museum closed, and I could have spent those two hours entirely at the first level. Due to the lack of time, we somehow made it to the second maybe third level. It certainly wasn't enough time to explore the rich history and expansive exhibits. We will definitely be back, and we'll set aside a day to take in the fullness of the museum.



 

Until next time. My goal is to return in September for the for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's 47th Annual Legislative Conference (ALC).


Oh, while I was in DC, I received an email from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) informing me that I can now offer continuing education courses to educators. UNBELIEVABLE! This is a game-changer.

I'm fortunate to have a great group of friends and educators with varied levels of expertise on my team who are committed to working hard to meet the needs of teachers, students, and parents.


May 

This month was YUGE! BIG! TREMENDOUS! It was GREAT! Everything was GREAT!

DRUMROLL, PLEASE! The results are in.


I WON!

I was overcome with relief, elation, and uncertainty.

I had a phenomenal team of people who supported me by block walking for WEEKS, making monetary contributions, or sharing my posts across social media. We put in the work, and it paid off.

My children supported my endeavors week after week.




My friends sacrificed their time to help me achieve my dreams.








Once the election was over, we felt pretty lost. We had become accustomed to wearing the campaign t-shirt every weekend, and I was so used to wearing pink everywhere. Well, that hasn't stopped. I've never wore so much pink in my life, and now it's my signature.

Then we Celebrated at Lost Oak





This is Part of My Why

Dr. Anthony Johnson, a Destination Graduation Coach, invited me to the Destination Graduation End of Year Luncheon after I was elected. The luncheon took place exactly a week before I was sworn in. I sat with a freshman and two sophomores. I decided against telling them my role because I didn't want them to feel uneasy or act unnatural due to who was dining at their table. At the end of the day, I'm still Nedra Robinson. Though I may wear many hats, Trustee Robinson, although I'm grateful, is only one facet of who I am.

Pictured with friends and students at the 2017 Destination Graduation Luncheon
Dr. Johnson provided me an opportunity to speak towards the end of the program. I don't quite remember what I said, and I didn't fully grasp the impact of my words. But I feel like it ushered in something new, and I can't let these students or their peers down.

Swearing In


This was a beautiful day! Several of my family and friends came to see me installed as a new board trustee. What truly moved me was a group of girls who had attended the Destination Graduation Luncheon came to see me sworn in because they said that I extended an invitation during my speech. I was in AWE! Honestly, I don't think I would have thought twice about attending a newly elected school board member's swearing in when I was their age. For me to have made that impression tells me that the responsibility that I have been given is greater than I fathomed.


Switching Gears

Speaking of children. Guess who'll be in Gifted and Talented next year? My son. He took the placement test while I was in DC, and I gave him a pep talk before I left. I'm so excited for him. I'm hoping this will alleviate some of that disdain that he has for school. Hopefully, that was just a fourth grade thing.

CHEERS TO A NEW YEAR AND NEW BEGINNINGS!

June and July

  • School's out. Enough said.
  • Personal Branding Speaker at Tarleton State University's Developing Women Leader's Program

  • Attended my first school board conference

  • This has been a difficult year for me. Yes, I've had some bright spots, but I envision my life moving forward in certain ways and it's just not happening. I've never received so much rejection in my life. I'm sure it's preparing me for something great, but it doesn't always feel great. So I had this great conversation with someone recently, and they told me that I needed to read "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell. I definitely need something to tip in my favor regarding my business and finances.
  • On another note, my family is in Operation Prevent Summer Slide Mode (I'll be publishing a blog on this topic soon)
    • STEM Camp
    • Music Camp
    • Coding Camp
    • Good ole fashioned teaching from Mama
  • Hired by VIPKID (I'm sure I'll have blogs about this experience)

Thank You

Thanks for taking the time to catch up with me. I've met so many remarkable people over the past year, and I've learned many things along the way. May you continue to grow with me.


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