One day at Vision and Voice…
The room grew warmer with chatter and excitement as each parent arrived. The group has been meeting monthly since January as a part of Vision and Voice Family Leadership Institute* and I’m excited see them in action today. Together they have reflected on topics like empowerment, self-care, family context & culture, goal identification with follow through, and early childhood literacy. At one session, they told the mayor’s office what they would like to see happening in education here in Clarkston. Now they are on to making change themselves.
The day started off with the question: “what famous leader do you want to meet, and why?” Then the group reflected on what they learned from each other’s role models and how that might relate to parenting. Conclusions varied from “leadership doesn’t always have to be famous, it can be local” to:
“I want to tell my kids to never be afraid to change”
Throughout the day participants continued to work in pairs, small groups, and large groups to navigate questions like “what have I learned since the last session” “have I made any headway on the goals I set last time or used any of the skills I learned last time?” and “what exactly is my focus right now?” One parent, who is running for school board, responded to this query with:
“My vision is that all voices are heard. My passion is for us to have real dialogue, to take policy off of the paper and put it into action. I want the everyday parent to understand their power and how to use it.”
They brainstormed, as parents of young children, what it would take for Clarkston to have the best elementary schools in the states. They practiced skills of articulation and advocacy.
Guest speaker Nitza Vega-Lahr, Director, Georgia Coalition for English Language Learners, presented on qualities of good early learning programs and the importance of learning to read by third grade. Samia Mohamed, a parent participant and interpreter, shared a wealth of personal and professional experience with the group about multilingual parenting and child advocacy.
Role plays were another highlight of the day. Upon watching a common parent teacher interaction, one parent commented “that’s what happens to me!” A role play of a more empowered and proactive interaction followed. Parents practiced talking about their children’s strengths, building their advocacy skills. Participants reflected on cultural differences in leadership, and one even commented:
“I’ve been here for five years and now my eyes are wide open.”
As the day wrapped up, small groups planned their final community projects. Again, excitement and chaos filled the room. I feel privileged for the opportunity to be with this powerful group of people. Look out, Clarkston, here come the parents!
*A partnership with CDF, United Way, RFS, Mommy & Me, & The K.D. Moore Community Development Center.