Making a post this week in recognition of all the hard work and sacrifice that our teachers make is a no-brainer…and well, I might as well say it, especially when running for School Director.
It would be so easy to find a warm, fun, and inviting message of thanks, gratitude and appreciation. I remind myself a million times a day to do this but something kept telling me not yet…not that message…it needed to be more. It needed to say more. It needed to reflect the IMPORTANCE of our teachers. The critical role they play in shaping the minds of all ages – young, adolescent, teenage, young adult, middle aged, and even those in their “twilight” years.
So in recognition of teacher appreciation week I would like to share the following interview on the 1776 Unites movement from its founder, Robert Woodson, who is also founder of the Woodson Center. Mr. Woodson is an exemplary human, a son of the City of Philadelphia, and an activist in our own community of West Chester. I hope you take a few minutes to hear about his mission to bring unity to our country.
So why this video? Why Mr. Woodson? Well, I am honored to have an opportunity later today to hear Mr. Woodson speak, and in preparation for that is how I came to learn more about him. So that I could prepare my mind and my heart for what he will say tonight, and so that I may be able to take in his message without bias or pre-conceived beliefs.
For more background information on Mr. Woodson, please visit The History Makers, which features the nation’s largest African American video oral history collection.
Because education should be, and is, age-elastic. By this I mean we can learn and grow from the day we are born until the day we take our last breath. We can, and we should. I consider myself a work in progress. Was this always true? No. Definitely not in my college years. Certainly not in my twenties and early thirties. It changed when I became a mother. Never has one moment in time humbled me so much, and shown me how little I knew and that I needed to shed my “I am a fully developed adult” mindset because the second I became a mom I realized how little I knew.
And I continue to be humbled every…single…day…since. For the last eleven years I have let go of the idea that I always know best. I learned to listen to my gut – which frequently says something different than my head or even my heart. I have learned to listen. I have pushed myself to examine challenges from all angles and to cultivate a fundamental belief that nothing is impossible.
When Ada and I started this journey together back in February we were strangers. Two mothers on opposite ends of a large district, with nothing in common but a passion to advocate for the children in our community. She was demanding answers about academic performance, desperate to understand if it was only her kids suffering? Or if they were a sign of struggles happening behind the closed doors of all our homes? Was she the only mother forcing a smile on her face and in her heart to help her children, only to hide in a closet and fall to pieces where they could not see or hear her pain and her struggle?
I give Ada a lot of credit. Because admittedly I did not hide all of my frustration and hurt from my children. After having to tell them 4.5 years ago that I might have cancer today or someday, and that mommy had to go away for a while to take care of it, I no longer had the luxury of hiding my pain and my struggle from my kids. I could not protect my childrens’ innocence from that and since then I have learned that what my kids learn from is not just forced strength, bravado, or false positivity. They learn just as much, if not more, from my struggles, my disappointments, my failures, and from my willingness to admit when something just is not right and to find a new way forward.
That is what I bring to the table as a school director. A personal and professional track record of authenticity and transparency. An open mind, willing to learn more about what my predecessors have done and a brave heart, willing to take the arrows when people get uncomfortable with change. Because we need change here in WCASD. As a 37+ year resident I have seen our community change in more ways that I can measure, but none more significant than what has happened in recent years.
So in this election cycle, I encourage each and every one of you to scratch beyond the surface. Do not just accept sound bytes or social media screenshots as de facto truths. Do the work. Educate yourself. Email the candidates. Call the candidates. Answer the door when we come knocking and talk to us. Ask the hard questions. We are prepared to give the hard answers. Because this vote on May18th is too important for the state of Pennsylvania – to place an overdue and much needed legislative check & balance on emergency orders. And for the West Chester Area School District – to determine if you want to foster a public education system that will continue to teach our children to label & minimize each other and over-compensate its administration while under-paying our teachers? Or do you want school directors who will be that much needed legislative check & balance on how our district chooses new curriculums, trains our teachers, implements effective programs to close the education equity gap, to invest its annual budget, and taxes our property owners?
Because if the latter is what you want, and what you think WCASD needs…then remember to vote for Stacey Whomsley for School Director, Region 3, and for Ada Nestor for School Director, Region 1. A better choice for a new direction for our children, our teachers, and our community.