The parent members of our community chapters across the city are the heart of our work. These families work to ensure their children, and students across New York City, have access to excellent, equitable education.
In the latest part of our #ThankfulFor series of blog posts, a few of these parents share the people who they are most thankful for, and who have had an impact on their lives. Read their responses below, and explore our first and second posts from a couple of the StudentsFirstNY organizers.
Dr. Marin Luther King Jr. is my inspirational figure. Dr. King has impacted my life because he was a leader for change. I think his work was amazing. The way he always believed in what he stood for and did it non-violently was truly awe-inspiring. His work is still being used as an example around the world today. The work I am involved in today with StudentsFirstNY makes me think of Dr. King because he was working hard to make changes. We are doing the same to change the face of education.
I am thankful for my aunt Dorrett Ellwood. Aunt Dorrett believes in the motto that it “takes a village to raise a child” and makes it a point to provide assistance to children when needed. She used to volunteer at the library and is now a staff member. Through my work as a parent advocate, I try to emulate Aunt Dorrett’s commitment to ensuring every child has the support and education they need to succeed. As a new member of the StudentsFirstNY community, I’m looking forward to continuing to work with other parents over the next year.
I am thankful for my middle school teacher who never gave up on me. He went beyond the call of duty to ensure that I lived up to my potential, and I’m grateful for his unwavering support. To pay it forward, I’m working to give back to my community by working with youth in my church community, providing support and guidance just as my middle school teacher did for me.
I am thankful for Governor Cuomo. The Governor has been open-minded and thoughtful to the educational needs of inner-city youth. He has gone against the grain, making hard, tough decisions to improve the quality of our schools for students. He is a true leader.
My high school teacher Mr. Smith taught me the value of education as a foundation for college and beyond. Mr. Smith also instilled in me the idea that access to a quality education is a right that all children have. I've taken that lesson with me into my adult life, where I've served as a mentor and tutor to students of various ages. Educational reform is necessary in order to guarantee that our students have the right to learn now and live a better life later. I personally believe that if wasn’t for this great teacher I would not have the same success I have now.
I am thankful for many people in life that has inspired me to continue fighting for quality education. The person that really impacted my life the most is the one closest to me, my sister, StudentsFirstNY Senior Organizer Asia Thomas. Asia's dedication in fighting for a quality education is what inspires me to have that same dedication for education reform. Asia's passion & sincere concern for changes, has shown others, including myself, just how much can be changed when we speak up & stand as a unit.
Not only does Asia's professional life show true dedication, but her personal life reflects the same in her struggle for ensuring that her son has a quality education. She gets up at 5am every morning to make sure her son gets to school on time in another borough. I don't know many people that would travel that far just to insure their child would get the quality education they deserve.
I am thankful for Pastor Frederick Lucas. Pastor Lucas is always there for my family and me. He is a strong believer in families, children and their education and he has become a mentor to me in my journey as a single father. Pastor Lucas is a strong leader. He is personable, genuine and he puts others before himself. I am helping to build strong leaders for the future by fighting for students’ rights for equal education.
I am thankful for Governor Cuomo. As a young black woman trying to become successful in a male dominated world, it's a breath of fresh air to see an elected official, such as Governor Cuomo, push for equality for women. I have always been aware of how women were treated differently but it wasn't until recently that I experienced prejudice against me because I am African American and because I am a woman.
Governor Cuomo has inspired me to take a stand of my own and fight for rights for everyone, no matter age, sex or race. Governor Cuomo showed dedication and determination to get the agenda's he set forth into action. One of his priorities is the Women's Equality Agenda: Now or Never. He also is advancing education reform to help the students in my community. With the Governor’s work, and more people learning about the need for reform, we can mobilize broader efforts for change and more quality schools.
I am thankful for Reverend Dr. Johnny Rae Youngblood. Pastor Youngblood inspires everyone around him, to strive for greatness & to lead by example. He believes we should always be working to make things better for self, family, and the community as well. Pastor Youngblood is a natural born leader with integrity and a true love and passion for his people. He is a believer that education is the key and that we stand on the shoulders of those that came before us, therefore we must make a collective effort to educate and lift up those who come behind us. I work with a growing group of parents, grandparents and other concerned people to improve things in NYC’s sub-par education system. Together we advocate for ALL of our children to be given a quality education. There is strength and power in large numbers the more people we can get involved in this fight. Fighting for our children is my way of lifting those who come behind me up so that they can have quality opportunities that allow them to surpass their wildest dreams.
StudentsFirstNY is New York's leading voice for students who depend on public education for the skills they need to succeed, but who are too often failed by a system that puts special interests, rather than the interests of children, first. Join us in celebrating the people in your life that have inspired you to seek and fight for a better world. Tweet at us @StudentsFirstNY using #ThankfulFor and let us know who else is out there making a difference.