It all started with a mentor and friend by the name of Jackie Clay. We worked together on the TENSE Summit, a youth serving organization of which I am the co-director, and she invited me to an event hosted by the Women’s Democratic Party. It was there that she encouraged me to apply for Emerge Tennessee to receive training on how to run for public office.
After much research, I applied to Emerge Tennessee with the goal of running for Knox County School Board. One may ask: why the school board? Well, education is my passion. More specifically, I am passionate about our schools in District 1. With my mission in mind, I learned that I was accepted into the first cohort for Emerge Tennessee and I embarked on a remarkable journey with 21 other dynamic women from across the state. During the training, I recognized that not only was I the right person, but that I was more than qualified to represent the district.
My education in Knox County Schools (KCS), including the teachers that supported me and the community members that uplifted me while I was a student there, contributed to my future success. Nonetheless, I know what it feels like to be a student in Knoxville’s lowest-performing high school and as a KCS scholar, I endured several hardships. There were many negative perceptions projected onto me about me and my abilities, but I excelled. To this day, I feel that I am forever indebted to the community that surrounded me.
I also know what it is like to have a classroom of 30 or more kids, each one learning at a different level and dealing with the unrealistic expectation that teachers get them all on the same level by the end of one academic year. Such unrealistic goals are created when policymakers do not understand the day to day work and pressure that teachers endure.
Our students and teachers deserve better. Schools are the backbone to our communities and when a school isn’t doing well, the community suffers.
I want to increase literacy for Kindergarten through third-graders by supporting and funding successful programs in our district. Forty percent of third grade students in Knox County are reading at grade level while students in my district are at only at 8%, and that is just unacceptable. I also want to ensure that students have access to post-secondary options by supporting and funding job- shadowing and internships. College may be an option for students who meet the academic requirements but should they choose not to follow the traditional route, it is the school system’s responsibility to expose our scholars to every opportunity. Lastly, I want to expand community involvement to ensure that this seat is truly responsive to the needs of the people that live here. It is my goal to build a cohesive force among District 1 schools.
I fully believe that Knox County Schools has the potential to be a flagship system once District 1 receives overdue and adequate financial support. I will use my knowledge and connections in our community to gain the much-needed resources our students need to feel as empowered as I did from my education.