Saturday, December 31, 2016

Presents Cannot Replace Presence

A few weeks ago, I posted on my personal Facebook page about having a big, fat failure moment as a parent. Since then, I've come to the realization that I'm raising a prepubescent male and my inadequacies in handling this transition are on full display. I vehemently believe that women can raise strong, intelligent, healthy men. Yet, I simply cannot replace his father or the role that his dad is supposed to play.

In the photo above, my son is holding the book "The Boy in the Black Suit" by Jason Reynolds. Matt, the main character, lost his mother to breast cancer and his father isn't coping well. Both Matt and my son are grieving the loss of a parent, except in my son's case, he's never experienced life with his father. All of his memories are outlandish stories that he created about his father coupled with the two times they met in his 10 years.

My son and I have had some honest conversations this past year, but Christmas was the most honest. In the past, we've had those moments where he was looking forward to his dad attending his baseball game only to be disappointed because it was the last game of the season and he never showed. Or racing to the mailbox daily in hopes of finding a package that his dad promised he'd send only to be let down because it never arrived. Or sending a series of text messages with no response. In spite of all of this, I've promised myself never to say anything ill of his father because I wanted him to come to his own conclusions.

That changed a bit on Christmas. After my daughter's father left from delivering presents and spending a little time with us, I could see the hurt in my son's eyes. I knew he was longing for the same relationship with his own dad. As we sat on the sofa, I told my son that he and his dad would probably never have that relationship. Fighting back tears, he nodded his head in agreement. I watched my son throughout the day and checked on him often. He reassured me that everything was okay. Still, I have this nagging feeling that in spite of all the gifts that he received, the presents simply cannot replace his father's presence.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Texas African American History Memorial to White Lives Matter Rally (Road Trip Recap)

To be there in that space at that moment with my children was monumental. On November 19, 2016, the Texas African American History Memorial (TAAHM) was unveiled at the Texas Capitol. This is the second monument dedicated to an ethnic minority group to open on the state capitol’s grounds, and it’s located on the south lawn near other monuments honoring Civil War Confederate Soldiers. I’ll address that tidbit of information later. What made attending this event so special was that I’ve been intentional about educating and exposing my children to black history. During the summer, we embarked on a road trip from Fort Worth, Texas to Washington, D.C. and stopped along the way to tour historic Civil Rights and black history sites. The D.C. Black History Road Trip was also a family affair that included my parents, sister, myself and the kids. We discussed the richness of black history back home, Texas, The only difference between this trip and our summer vacay was this was a quick turnaround trip.

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Literacy Crisis In Our Schools

“Can you learn me to read?” this middle-aged white gentleman asked me.

His questioned stunned me, and I didn’t quite know how to answer his question. I was the Project Coordinator for a tutorial program “Juntos Podemos-Together, We Can” at a local library. We operated year-round and targeted youth ages 3-18, but I would occasionally tutor adults if they needed assistance in college courses or GED preparation. However, his request was out of my wheelhouse. Frankly, I was intimidated, and it was my first time meeting an adult who admitted not being able to read.

Where would I begin? How do you teach an adult to read? What resources do you use?

I’ve often wondered what happened to that man. Instead of attempting to teach him how to read, I referred him to an adult education provider.

But he was an anomaly, right?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Your Vote Impacts Education: Make it a Good One

This election cycle has been anything but ordinary. With all the noisy chatter, partisanship, and rhetoric, there’s one topic that’s been noticeably quiet: EDUCATION. President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December 2015 which empowers states and school districts to develop their own strategies for improving student performance and ensuring their success in the 21st century.

That’s Great! Yet there's not much discussion from our presidential candidates concerning the current state of education or solutions to improve it.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Challenging Conversations: Empower Kids to Discuss Race, Equity, and Justice

“I don’t want to be shot. I don’t want to die,” my son said as he entered the kitchen. I was taken aback. Where was this coming from? He continued, “I want to live to an old age. Like older than Papa and Gigi.”

“What are you talking about?” I demanded. He replied, “I’m kinda afraid of the police because I don’t want to be shot. I don’t want to be a police officer either because the bad guys might fight back and refuse to listen and some police get killed.”

I was astonished that he was thinking this way.

This conversation took place during the summer when Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, five Dallas officers, and three Baton Rouge officers were murdered.

I’m pretty vocal about my views on social media. However, at home, I try to shield him from the atrocities of the world. I was shocked by his concerns and knowledge of events, to say the least. He’s not old enough to have a social media account, and we stream TV. I do enjoy watching documentaries, and occasionally I’ll have him watch them with me. But that’s history, and his concerns were about present-day activities. So, where was this coming from?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

5 Tips for Education on the Go: Make Learning Fun

If you are a busy parent, like me, who’s always on the go from sunup to sundown dropping the kids off at school, heading to work, attending meetings, school functions, and sporting events – Whew! My heart is racing just thinking about everything…then you’ve probably felt guilty for not having enough time or “quality time” with your children. I have two kids (a boy and a girl) who are six years apart, my son is the oldest. I try to use the time we have in the car together as a distraction-free zone. Since I’m a former educator, that means we’re usually doing some type of educational activity on the go. However, it’s all fun, and what child doesn’t enjoy undivided attention from Mom or Dad?

First things first: TURN OFF THE CAR RADIO

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Used for Good: My Story Matters

I grappled for a long time about writing a blog, and how much of myself to reveal in the blog. Like most people, education and my childhood have had a significant impact on the woman I am today. As I develop my education consulting company and write about education issues that move me, I believe it's only fair that I liberate myself first. I've spent many years hiding my truth from most of the world, wearing a facade to avoid revealing myself and the incidences that created the woman I am today. I consider myself an underdog, and I want to write blogs for Educate to Liberate that empower and raise awareness of issues that students, particularly young women and students of color, face that are often overlooked in our schools.

Here goes! Since I was 5, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher. Books were abound in my home. I spent countless hours playing school, and forcing my sister and neighborhood friends to play school with me before they could go to recess (play on our backyard swing set). Learning was my life, and it showed because I was admitted into the Gifted Student Program (GSP) in elementary. Within a few years, I transitioned from a vibrant, inquisitive child to a broken girl and no one noticed.

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