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My Family Ties

The Jones family 1928. My Grandfather Horace Bidwell English, back row 2nd from right, married Olive Jones, seated 2nd from right. My mother Helen English, is 3 years old in the front row farthest right. My great, great grandmother Schell is seated, middle.

The Roots of Belonging

We all have family roots. Some of us are closer than others to our siblings and extended families. But what has always been a concern for me is how connected we feel, how much do we belong to our families, our tribe, and to our communities.

Attachment theory teaches that our earliest relationships with parents or caregivers are critical to forming the capacity to connect and belong. And I believe that our early childhood experiences in school are also critical to helping us form a positive sense of belonging in the world. 

It is for this reason that I believe strongly in the concept of "inclusion." It pains me to see our School Board dismantle inclusion and equity in the name of political pandering. Every child needs to belong, and some need more help in that area than others.

Because I've mentioned my grandfather a lot, I wanted to let you know a little more about him and my family roots.

Granddaddy English with his second wife, Ava English

My Grandfather, Horace Bidwell English

Granddaddy English was a child psychologist at the Ohio State University, studying and publishing widely on how children learn. He died when I was young, so I know him mostly by the many stories about him.

He was an expert witness in Brown v Board of Education, the landmark Supreme Court desegregation case in the early 50s. He testified that a child's ability to learn had nothing to do with his or her skin color, debunking the concept of white supremacy. 

But he also testified that play was an important and integral part of learning (something that was just highlighted at a recent Smart Start presentation.) And when black children had to spend so much more time walking to far away schools--the only schools that would admit them--they lost crucial play time. And when those schools had lower expectations of their performance, their grades suffered even more.

My Parents

Mom and Dad

My dad was a life-long educator. My Mom went back to school when I was 11 to become a therapist. They worked hard to ensure my brothers and I had the skills to succeed in life. Beyond learning the 3-Rs they exposed us to different cultures and different perspectives about the world. They travelled with 5 boys, ages 7 to 16,  through Europe to Africa, where we lived for 2 years. I remember my mom bought us nylon shirts and would wash them at night in hotel sinks and air-dry them for the next day's travel. Thanks Mom and Dad!

My Aunt Joanne, Great Grandmother Jones, Grandmother English (Horace's 1st wife), and my mother, age 13, circa 1938

My mother was my first grade teacher. My father was my middle school principal. My four brothers and I learned our values through the eyes of educators. We were taught that every child is unique and important. 

One of my playmates growing up was a girl with developmental disabilities. Once when I complained that Laurie wasn't very smart, my mother explained that while every child can't learn the same way, every child has a gift to offer and it's up to us to find out what that special gift is. 


Here I am, age 7 in my first month in Africa. It was a great learning experience but if you look closely you might see how scared I was! 

When I was 22, I had a 3 year-old step-son. His mother and I were so young, trying hard to parent him. The disruption in his early life brought socialization and behavior challenges. Head Start was a life-changer for him and for us.

I support universal access to Pre-K so that children like my step-son get the structure they need to start school strong.

Our Families

Family is so important. I'm grateful for the love and support I received but I'm also cognizant that we don't all get the same opportunities. Many children have one parent, or live with a grandmother or relative. Some parents work multiple jobs. 

Roots and belonging must sometimes be fostered outside of the family unit. Our public schools play an important role in including children in the community. It takes an intention from the Board and Superintendent, all the way down to the teachers and staff to make sure every child is seen and represented, regardless of what they look like or where they come from.

Help me change the culture in NHCS so that every child belongs and has the chance to succeed.

Last Minute Appeal

Sunday--TONIGHT--at midnight is the last opportunity to post contributions in our quarterly report. (I jumped the gun last month thinking it was end of May. Doh!)

Showing the public that we have raised funds sends a real message. Despite the fact that I've knocked on over 2700 doors, if yours wasn't one of them, you might not know how busy I've been. Fundraising doesn't just allow me to purchase the media buys and other marketing I need to reach the voting public at scale. It tells a story that garners trust and support.

So if you've been considering contributing or thinking about donating again, I hope you'll do it now, before midnight tonight. It really helps a lot. 

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your support. The kind words of encouragement, the many house parties and fundraisers, the volunteers that help me at every step of the way. And of course, the contributions. It takes all of us to create the change that we envision.

Til I see you!

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