Thank you for welcoming me into ATC to join you in the powerful mission of providing all students with equitable education everyday. I don’t take our work lightly: we have the privilege of serving some of the most resourceful, most resilient students and communities in the nation.
I grew up in a community like that of many of our students: right along the Mississippi River in Tunica, MS, a place that grows cotton as well as character, promise as well as profit. Country folks in the Delta live unique narratives: powerful stories of purpose, struggle, and triumph.
All too often these narratives are overshadowed by narratives that show obstacles rather than opportunity and are crafted by those who choose to oppress rather than uplift the voices of people in the Delta. As educators, we have the responsibility of helping our students discover, create and celebrate their own stories.
More importantly, as educators we have the duty to help counter the negative narratives that are told about our students and communities in our spheres of influence. When we empower students to pen a new narrative on their own terms, celebrate those stories, and share them with the world, we help reverse the plague created by bias against our student communities, and expand opportunities in present and future.
The Arkansas-Mississippi Delta birthed the Blues, Rock & Roll, soul food: all pillars of Americana. But I wonder how often our students are reminded of this narrative of their past and of the power of their own narratives in present and future.
My work the past ten years with students, in education and in the nonprofit sector, has convinced me that the students and communities we work with–whether in Eastern, Central, or Southwest Arkansas–are invaluable to the future of this nation. They make a way out of no way. They make something out of nothing. It is a privilege to serve and work with them.
I am also humbled to work alongside you in creating equitable empowering classrooms and positive contributions to your communities. I cannot wait to see more of the work you do with your students, schools and communities, and I cannot wait to pen new narratives with the communities in which we serve.