LIVE the Present
Updated: Dec 5, 2019
I still have a box, or four, of old classroom stuff. Among the items are stacks of crinkled handwritten cards from former students. I find joy in reading them, even all these years later. Days are brighter whenever I do, no matter how long its been.
Sometimes I think about the time I capsized on a grade five rapid while white water rafting down the Zambezi River, and what a privilege it is to be able to say I’ve done that.
Or sometimes I find myself thinking about the very first time I protested. I was in college with the Emory NAACP in Jena, Louisiana. It was there I first learned that you may cut down a tree, but it still has roots.
I consider all of it a gift.
Experiences. Opportunities. Life.
Best gifts ever.
I can’t remember the last tangible best gift I received or how beautifully it was wrapped.
This holiday season, how will you wrap your presents? May we all remember that the best presents don’t need to be wrapped, and no amount of wrapping will help even the worst gifts.
(Hint: YOU are the gift. We are allllll the gift.)
Ok. The run-down.
The latest (at CCPS)…
- Jonesboro High School’s Majestic Marching Cardinals were recently flewed out to march in Chicago’s famous Thanksgiving Day Parade! I remain in awe of our scholars, teachers, and parents. Continued congratulations to Principal Brown, and the entire JHS village, for creating a culture of excellence!
- Suder Elementary invited me to Drop Everything And Read by participating in DEAR Day. Thank you for the invitation Principal Goree, and congratulations on a phenomenal first year!
- I was invited to the social worker’s book club where we discussed Pushout, and the plights our students face at school and at home. I remain grateful to Dr. Collier and the entire team for the opportunity to be in the room, and to hear from those who are closest to our most heart wrenching work.
Anytime I’m invited to a school or gathering of employees, I do my best to show up! Thank you, and keep the invitations coming!
The latest (as a board member)…
- The last time I wrote, I talked about wanting to DO MY JOB, and “dig in” a bit more on the governance side of things. One of the biggest challenges we face as school board members is staying focused on the priorities we’re elected to prioritize. Policy. Budget. Superintendent. It’s especially tough to stay focused in the face of extreme highs and lows, like history-making celebrations or student trauma & tragedy. Knowing this, I asked my board chair for permission to facilitate a session about our core work at our recent board retreat. She said yes! I was really excited, and the main objective from my presentation was…
“Hi, I’m Jasmine. Yes… everything sucks. Everywhere. In all public schools. Nationwide. To fix THAT, we have to fix US! We’re the solution, be encouraged!”
Basically, I became a teacher again, and nerded out dissecting the policies on the upcoming agenda. In true form, I created a webpage, made handouts, and even recorded a read-aloud lol. I didn’t finish my presentation, but it was the first time I had the entire board’s undivided attention outside of a board meeting for more than 5 minutes. I remain grateful to my chair for the opportunity. And hopefully, we’ll return to the unfinished business soon. Oversight calls.
- Let the record state, I speak with (mild sarcasm) criticism and with unconditional love. Like a Mom only you can make jokes about. This is my home! I’m obsessed with improving outcomes for scholars and families at CCPS. I, too, demand excellence and there is no doubt we're falling short. But when we, as critics, complain about inequitable education, we can’t just complain about CCPS. I’m not exaggerating when I say everything sucks EVERYWHERE. There’s a painful history to unpack. And it’ll take a whole village to address systemic poverty and dismantle institutional racism. I’m trying. We’re trying. Are you? If you ask me, we should throw the whole American k-12 public school system away… here's proof. Plus, there are wins that test data doesn’t capture, like how a record number of our scholars are graduating with ASSOCIATES DEGREES & JOB OFFERS!
- Recently, I had an awesome site visit with my School Board Partners cohort in New Orleans. If you know of other school board members who seek a development opportunity and a network of support, tell them to apply to this fellowship! This network has been invaluable. While I was in New Orleans last month, I told Drew to keep his head up and that I’d see him soon in Atlanta.
The latest (on my mind)…
- I’m thinking… “I should write more.”
- I’m wondering… “I should post more.” (ok, I admit it. I’ve been on a self-imposed social media hiatus the past 30+ days). #ThyShallDetox #DoneNow #BackSoon #YallDidntMissMeAnyway #ThanksForUnderstanding lol
- I’m reading… a lot. No book right now, but one of the platforms I’ve been enjoying the past few months is Medium. I’m late to the party, but glad to be here now. And don’t be surprised if you see me begin to publish there. #2020goals
- I’m feeling… privileged and purposeful. It’s an honor to serve, and a privilege to lead. I feel that. But
- I’m craving… focus. I can do more (where I’m supposed to), by doing less (everywhere else). I can go farther, by staying on course. (Policies. Budget. Superintendent. *repeats to self*)
- I’m prioritizing… vision setting for an incredible 2020.
- I’m venting… While I am a PROUD Atlanta born, Atlanta Braves fan, Atlanta United Soccer fan, Atlanta Hawks Basketball fan, Atlanta Thrashers hock… nevermind. Mom and I enjoyed awesome seats on Thanksgiving night. #WHODAT!!!
And finally. The latest (on my heart)…
- My prophyte is running for Senate! For that reason, and more, I am proud to support Amanda for Texas! As a longtime City Councilwoman in Houston, she’s brilliant and qualified. I missed the opportunity to fellowship with her during Nu Alpha’s recent 40th Anniversary Opening Celebration, but I got to sneak in a few hugs, so it was definitely worthwhile. Click the link to pledge your support.
- A friend from Miami returned to his hometown in Haiti and started a school. For years, I’ve been proud to support Silentor and the scholars at Mission Starfish. Silentor, and his team of angels, have educated, employed, housed, and fed the entire community throughout hurricanes, earthquakes, famine, and loss. I found myself recommitting after reading his latest newsletter.
Check out the whole thing here, and donate if the spirit moves you.
- A friend and fellow Emory Alum, Noel, started a Foundation to support Black and Latinx entrepreneurs in Brooklyn. Learn more, and support Represented Foundation here.
- A colleague, fellow TFA-alum, neighbor (and therefore), constituent created a Bridge Fund for local women seeking to prevent a financial set back. Melanated Pearl’s mission is to empower, educate and uplift Black women. Donate $10 or more via CashApp $MelanatedPearlCorp or PayPal.
My most fervent prayers and thoughts are with those of us who are elderly, sick, lonely, mourning, and incarcerated.
Peace be with you.
Here if you need me. Yours in service,