At a recent Beechwood event, I had the pleasure of having dinner with Jason and Michaun Auzenne whose daughter Jala is in our 6th grade class. During our conversation, Jala’s dad asked me what plans Beechwood had to celebrate Black History Month. His question served as a reminder to me that this is an important time, not just for the African American members of our school community but for the Beechwood community as a whole.
Therefore, throughout the remainder of the month, parents, teachers and students will share their “Black History Heroes.” We start this week with a contribution from Nicoshi Marzette, mother of Bryce in our 5th grade:
There are way too many heroes for me to name just one. So many that have made a difference for not only African Americans but all Americans!
We can go back to Harriet Tubman and her mission to free the slaves. Sojourner Truth and Langston Hughes, whose powerful words through poetry and speeches have made and continue to make huge strides throughout the communities.
Even if we look at more modern day, a lot of the microphones used today were developed/designed by James West. Those hot summer days that the kids enjoy running around with their super soakers, those were invented by Lonnie Johnson. For the cellphone crazed teens, Jesse Eugene Russell for his part in introducing the world to cellular technology (he got his Masters at Stanford).
There are tons of heroes and way makers both known and unknown that have made a difference. Personally, my heroes have been right in my community of East Palo Alto/Menlo Park. I will always remember Ms. Sandra Sterling who was my teacher in 3rd/4th grade at Willow Oaks. She was also my Sunday School teacher at Macedonia Church in Menlo Park. She is the reason that I was so into poetry and helped me to be comfortable with performing. She taught me the importance of being active in the community and giving back as well as standing up for what’s right! Especially in a world when women are often not taken as seriously as men.
“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” — Malcolm X
Thank you Nicoshi for sharing these thoughts with us. Next week we will share another Beechwood parentrsquo;s Black History heroes
I hope that all of you had a wonderful Holiday. Mine was great! It started with Beechwood’s amazing, uplifting Holiday Show and continued on through Christmas and New Years. It was rejuvenating to take an extended break, to be with family and friends to celebrate all of life’s blessings.
Now, however, it is time to roll up our sleeves and get back to our important work. One of the most pressing issues affecting the Beechwood Community is that of affordable housing. One of my goals for 2016, is to do whatever I can to help bring awareness to this growing problem. I urge you to get involved as well.
Most of you are well aware of what is happening with regard to rising home prices and rents. As the prices go higher and higher it is becoming very hard for many Beechwood families to stay in the area. We have lost a number of families already because they can no longer afford to live here. The grim reality is that we can be sure that more families will leave, unless the issue is addressed and solutions are found.
In addition to the issues faced by our families, the lack of affordable housing is affecting our staff as well. Teachers who are renting are having their rents raised to a point where they have to consider leaving the area as well. Our outstanding staff is an essential part of what makes Beechwood great. The thought of losing talented teachers due to a lack of affordable housing is of great concern to me as well.
So what can we do?
For my part, I have started by drafting an open letter to local government leaders, making them aware of what is happening and asking them to engage in dialogue with our community members about affordable housing for teachers. This letter will be co-signed by a group of local Principals who are equally concerned about losing teachers.
I also will be attending the next Menlo Park City council meeting, which will be held at the Senior Center on January 12th at 6pm. If you are interested in raising awareness about housing prices and urging our leaders to address the issue, I hope you will attend as well. In the past, a show of strength from Beechwood families has made a difference with regard to local issues.
I started this message by mentioning “life’s blessings.” For me, one of the greatest blessings of my life has been working in this richly diverse community. Beechwood parents come from all walks of life. You are nannies, gardeners, high tech workers, nurses, office managers and teachers. Regardless of how you make your living, you deserve to have a place to live that is affordable and reasonably close to where you work and where your children go to school. Let’s do whatever we can to make our voices heard in an effort to preserve our diverse community.