Dear D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson,
I don’t know what you have in store as your next professional move, but I know it will be grand. I believe in you.
Thank you for giving my children hope and capacity in their D.C. Public Schools. They had wonderful teachers and school leaders. They were able to see what true diversity looks and feels like. They were (and are) given chances to excel in classrooms that had a good mixture of children of different races, genders, socioeconomic levels, political backgrounds, family structures and so on. Most important, they were able to learn while still being authentically black. Thank you. Because I’ve been in situations where my black voice was silenced as a student and as an adult in diverse environments simply because I was a minority, both in number and in the hue of my skin.
Thank you for the capacity of their schools. My children had help when they needed help and extracurricular activities when they wanted to play more and do more. They had comfort in knowing that there were resources there to assist them when needed. Without that capacity, as a working single mother of three children, I’m not sure what I would have done because there’s only one of me. Thank God and you for the village you helped create at their schools.
As a native Washingtonian, I’ve seen leaders come and go through the D.C. Public Schools. I remember growing up with Floretta D. McKenzie as my superintendent, but I couldn’t resonate with her as I can with you because I was a child then. As an adult, I see the sacrifices you make to ensure there’s academic achievement and an impact for thousands.
I’m sure I can feel your disappointment when you can’t attend a beloved child’s event because duty calls. So if no one has ever thanked you for your commitment and sacrifice, please know that I do.
Thank you for science and tech programs. My youngest son now wants to be an engineer. Thank you for your support of charter schools. My daughter is an aspiring writer, and my other son is an honor-roll student and was student of the month.
I don’t know a lot about test scores or the Every Student Succeeds Act, but I know about wanting the best education for your children. I know about the lottery system in the District that not only accepted all three of my children into out-of-boundary schools, but also taught us important lessons about dedication and inclusiveness. I’m sure you know all about those lessons, too. Because you could have chosen to be okay with low test scores and subpar standards, but you didn’t. You could have chosen to be separate from the communities you serve, but you didn’t. You chose to live among us and do the things that we do. Thank you for your dedication over the past nine years, and your willingness to remain included in our lives.
As we prepare for our next education leader, I hope you know you placed a stamp of excellence on our nation’s capital. I hope you know that you’ve had, and will have, fans here who cheered for you publicly and from the sidelines. I hope you know how much you’re appreciated and valued. I wish you well and look forward to your next big adventure.