I wanted to write today about something I am very passionate about. Something I hold very dear.
I appreciate you allowing me the space to share what's on my heart.
One of the questions I get asked most is, "Don't you miss being a teacher?"
The answer is, of course. I miss the kids.
I miss the days like the one where one of my girls wrote a speech for a project. When she got up to present it, voice and hands shaking, she was terrified and yet still brave.
I don't know what flipped in her in that moment, but through a couple quiet tears, she crumpled up the paper she was reading from and told her REAL story. The one that told the truth about the struggle she faced daily when she went home.
She told the class something I already knew as her teacher, but no one else would expect based on her put-together appearance. She told them that instead of being able to go home and do stuff that "normal teenagers" do, she walked her brother home from elementary school, fed him, helped him with his homework, cleaned up the home, put him to bed, and waited until her drunk mom came home from the bars. She then cleaned her up, put her to bed, and slept on the couch.
I miss that one boy in the class who recognized the fear the girl was feeling as she took off her mask. I miss the courage HE showed as he walked to the front of the room to stand next to her so she wouldn't feel so alone telling her story. I miss the tiny miracle that transpired next as the rest of that class walked to the front of the room, one by one, and then as a mass, to huddle around her, and let her finish her speech surrounded by strength.
I sat at the back of the class, weeping at this beauty I was blessed enough to witness.
What's crazy is that this story is just one example of the many moments of great strength and courage that was common in the students I had the honor of teaching in my decade as a high school AVID teacher. The kids I had the privilege of teaching showed me on a daily basis just how incredible young people can be, and how big they can dream, knowing that an education was the first step they needed in order to be free from the generational cycles that grasped at them.
WHY THIS MATTERS TO ME:
Though I'm not teaching in the classroom anymore, in my role both as an educational consultant, and as the CEO of Compliment, I’m still certain I’m able to use the gifts God has given me to make an impact--which, of course, is what we are all called to do in some way.
Three weeks ago, I had the distinct honor and pleasure to award two very deserving young women with the 2014 Compliment Scholarship: Lindsey Allen and Shelby Miller. These young women, though the details of their stories are different, demonstrate the same kind of strength and tenacity to better their lives.
Here's a glimpse into their lives.
From Lindsey's application:
"I wasn't ever going to let myself succumb to what statistically was expected of me. I became resilient after my father abandoned us. I refused to let a man who had already taken so much from my family have control over my future, too. I became attentive in class, a critical thinker. I want to be an attorney to help fight for people who were like me once, the ones who were left feeling abandoned and still were strong for their families."
From Shelby's application:
"To truly stop and listen is my gift. When actively listening to others, I am able to empathize and connect with them. I plan to use my gift while practicing psychology or social work. I believe in order to truly make a difference in my community, it is important that I listen deeply, I listen well, and I listen without regard for my own ego, so that I may help heal those who have never been heard."
These young girls have the heart to serve and make their communities better. If my efforts in education, business and philanthropy can support that, then great.
WHY THIS SHOULD MATTER TO YOU:
But I am humbled knowing that I’ve not done this alone.
Because of your generous support of Compliment, I've been able to give away over $4000 of cash and prizes since 2012.
But the dream is bigger than this. I know that together as a community, WE can make an even greater impact, one that doesn't just lighten the load, but one that creates opportunities. Education for these young women is their ticket out. We can help make that a real possibility.
I’m looking to you, sweet friend, to contribute to our first annual Compliment Scholarship Program Fundraiser: BUILD. October 25, 2014, in Sacramento, CA.
Tickets went on sale on Monday. At the door, these tickets will be $60/ea and will get you dinner, dancing, and craft cocktails (and a freaking awesome night on the town!), but for one week only, our early bird price is $40.
And if you are not in Sacramento, you can still help!
You can help create more opportunities for our girls through a Crowdrise campaign, below.
Because, after all, it's always been about more than just the jewelry.
Education changes people. And people change the world. Won't you join me?
Check out the Compliment Soul Care Series, where we interview women who are doing wonderful things!