Taking The Stage: Supporting Academic Achievement

Good morning, my name is _____________. For my recitation, I have selected…

On a damp Saturday morning, I’m on the second row in a school library, anticipation overflowing. As the parent of a child participating in a college preparatory program, my presence was strongly encouraged by the staff. My attendance was never in question, as missing my daughter’s first oratory was not an option. For months, she and her peers worked fervently to perfect the speech that would serve as the final exam for their Literature course.

Though my offspring was not scheduled to perform until the end of the hour, I got my iPhone ready to record and cheerfully settled into my chair. As a book lover, I looked forward to hearing selections from America’s literary canon and newly acclaimed authors alike. When my child’s moment came, the stage fright she worried about intensely dissipated. It was amazing to hear her recite prose from the same novel I fell in love with twenty-two years ago.

I, along with the rest of the audience, was genuinely impressed with the children. These middle school students did not disappoint! The dedication they put into the project was apparent. The joy that each one brought to their presentation showed their comfort and mastery of the material. In light of their age, I felt the performance of the children was especially remarkable!

A little over a year ago, we received our admission letter into this program. Since that time my daughters’ natural precociousness has been cultivated by the committed teachers and staff of this organization. With pride, I’ve watched my child learn to advocate for herself and accept the challenge of completing schoolwork two to three years ahead of her current grade level. It was a challenging year, but to her credit, she never fixed her mouth to ask to quit the program.

At the conclusion of today’s oratory, a teacher introduced the featured judge and thanked them for being there. Discovering that the staff had taken the time to obtain the service of a theater professional made me even more grateful for this resource. There is much discussion about the state of education in the U.S., much of it negative. For this reason, I adore the consistent efforts of all those involved in my child’s education. We have dozens of people striving to ensure that she takes advantage of every opportunity available, along with the funding and resources needed to pay for it all. The path ahead will not be easy. However, with the backing of family, teachers, and academic support staff, I’m convinced my child and her peers will continue to excel on the stage of life.

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A native Seattleite and East Coast transplant, I have been interested in politics, religion, and race from the day I saw “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” on the bookshelf belonging to my BFF’s mom back in 1991. While my zealotry has thankfully diminished with maturity, I remain the deep thinking, passionate, and humble woman I have always been.

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