Hale Cook Elementary
How are you working to increase equity in education and opportunity for students in your school?
I implemented an After-School activities program to try to give KCPS students the opportunities that so many of our kids lack. A student’s experiences, or lack of, can shape their self-worth and their priorities. When people feel they don’t have value it becomes more difficult for them to see the purpose of applying themselves academically. When they feel they have skills, important things to do, and opportunities coming their way, it becomes easier to find motivation to struggle through difficult things.
What message about public education do you want to share?
A lack of emotional and mental support for our kids living in poverty, violence, and neglect is one of the most important issues in education today. Kids can’t prioritize learning when they’ve witnessed something traumatic or they are busy raising brothers and sisters. We can’t control their home lives, but we can make decisions in and out of the classroom that improve their daily outcome. In my classroom I do my best to lead on this issue by supporting them outside of the classroom whenever possible. When I have a student living in a state facility, I know I need to spend quality time with him in his environment because he doesn’t have a home to school connection otherwise. When I have that student who struggles to show me respect when I address him, I get his game schedule and show up for him, so that on Monday when I give him consequences he is aware that I don’t accept his behavior, but I do accept him. You have to accept that doing this job, where we do it, requires more than what we get paid for.