Teachers Do More Than Teach

Kindergarten:  I was selected to give the graduation speech at my mostly white Catholic school. It was pivotal in making me feel like a capable leader at a young age. I was student body President 12 years later/senior year (different school) and also delivered a speech at graduation. Looking back now I also wonder if my nun teacher was making a statement about racial equality by putting me out front like that in 1969. 

5th grade:  My black teacher Mrs. Bryant pulled me out of class and scolded me for being late after recess because I was hanging with a more wayward crowd of girls. She threatened to tell my parents and grandparents that she knew personally; shaped me up and affirmed I had a destiny that could be ruined. 

9th Grade:  There was no girls' high school cross-country in 1977 in Ohio but my brother's coach let me and two other girls run on the boys' team. I beat tons of boys in the meets and again, felt my confidence boosted. Coach Renaux remains a friend of our family to this day. 

Sophomore year at Princeton:  I had to withdraw because my parents had stopped paying my tuition the prior spring. Though I met with the dean of students and the controller, they provided no advice on how to return, get loans, or anything. My parents didn’t know anything about it either. This knowledge gap in families is part of the reason I work at City of Promise now. I still don’t have my degree, but I am newly enrolled in JMU's online adult program.

City of Promise is one of a network of neighborhoods throughout the country that target poor communities to address academic needs of kids. We are in downtown C'ville and I am the development director. Having spent my other 12 years in fundraising for private schools, I like this much better.