True story; it took me two weeks to write this. I was so worried about leaving someone out. The truth is I know there will be some women I leave out, but it was not intentional. There have been so many supportive women in my life that have looked out for me and helped me along the way. On the final day of Women’s History Month, I wanted to pay tribute to these women and give them the flowers they deserve. We should celebrate women every day, but one month a year, we dedicate it to them only.
There from the Start
I am going to begin where it all started. To my mother, Veronda McGuire, thank you for being you. Thank you for your constant support and for always believing in me. I know if I do not have anyone else in my corner, I have you. I love you forever, and I will work every day to make you proud of the man you birthed and raised. From the time I was a child even to now, you are always there and you would oftentimes give your last to make sure I never went without.
Throughout my time in school, I had women who supported me. This support was primarily through school and through my time from kindergarten until I graduated from college. To my first elementary principal, who happened to be a Black woman, thank you. Mrs. Patricia Brooks, thanks for the example you set early. While I do not remember much of our interactions, I remember the grace and style you showed as a principal. That stuck with me and was something I remembered later down the line when I got to this point in my career. Mrs. Ruby Watkins was my 8th grade E/LA teacher at New Augusta. You were the first educator to believe in my potential. When I won the Purdy Award for the outstanding 8th-grade student, you were so happy for me in addition to my parents. You pushed me and always believed that I would be great. When I became an E/LA teacher myself, I strived to show my students the love you showed me. There are so many amazing memories that I can recall from my time at Central State University, but meeting Lugene Bailey was arguably the best. I have spoken countless about what you meant to me in my life. I only hope that I impact someone the way you impacted me in my time on this earth.
Fresh out of college, I had an opportunity to work alongside some amazing women. At 22, I met Dr. Kimberly McElroy Jones, Traci Adams Wilson, and Erica Young. These women taught me so much in a few short years through relationship advice, financial advice, career advice, and general personal advice. I needed you all during that period of my life. Dr. Jones, you were my first mentor. You are someone that I professionally looked up to, and still to this day. I chase in the impact you had on the lives of youth especially the work you did through St. Vincent. Mrs. Traci, you cared and looked after me like a son. I appreciate that so much. I could always count on you. Erica, you were the big sister I never had. Thank you for the words of advice supports. I learned so much from you that I still remember and have to remind myself to this day.
Chasing my Dreams
When you go off and try new avenues, you need people to either help you get into the position or you need someone to believe in you first. These next two amazing women did both of those for me. India Johnson is a peer, and someone that I am chasing. She is the embodiment of an educator and her passion is contagious. If you know her, you have no choice but to embrace the passion or get ran over by it. She gave me my first connection in this education work. I remember our early study sessions as I was pursuing the principalship. I remember when we were teachers dreaming of being leaders. Now look at us leading and you are owning and leading. Thank you for that early push and the continued push. Let’s catch up soon. Judge Noelle Allen, when we first connected and I came in your office you did not know me, but you believed in me. You supported a vision I had and pushed to open doors for me. From someone of your status, that means a lot, but the person you are and your support of me means even more. I hope we can connect again soon.
My Tindley People
I love my job, and I love where I work. Tindley is a special place, and there have been some special people who have come through Tindley. I had the privilege of working alongside three amazing women at Tindley. ShaDe’ Watson, if it wouldn’t have been for you setting up the meeting, I would have never been at Tindley. The college tour meeting turned into the first interview for the best job of my life twice. Thank you for that, and I miss our pizza and wings catch-up at Keystone Sports Review! Amanda Koth, I learned some of my best leadership skills from you. Thank you for your friendship and your mentorship. You know you saved my career and helped put me back on the right track! Last but certainly not least, I can’t forget Kelli Marshall. I tell people all the time you gave the best job twice. First, you gave me my first opportunity as a leader, and then you gave me my dream job here at Summit. You inspire me, and I hope I can turn out to be half the educator you are. Thank you to my forever boss!
To the wonderful women at Tindley Summit Academy, including the women on staff and the women who serve as mothers, aunts, and grandmother to our scholars, I say thank you for all your hard work and dedication to our scholars. It is an honor to work alongside you. Thank you for having my back always through the good and the bad!
My New Village
As I enter a new phase in my life, three women play a critical part in what I call the next leg of the journey. These women are all amazing in their own right. JuDonne Hemingway, you are one of the dopest people I know, not just in the space of education but overall. I love our two-hour catch-up conversations. Your advice is always timely and always exactly what I need to hear. I look forward to the future and our next conversations about what is on the horizon. Naomi Shelton, since we first met, you have continued to put me on and help build my brand and platform. You are one of the most selfless people I know. You are always looking out, and it is my honor to know you at work but to also call you a friend. Dr. Chevella Wilson, aka Doc Locs. Whether it is career advice, advice about my personal life, or parenting advice, I am so appreciative to have met you and to know you. I often think, where have you been all my life? Thank you for your friendship, and I am excited to see our friendship grow both professionally and personally.
Behind any successful man is a village of supportive women. Take the time and thank them!