A Cautionary Tale of Two Classrooms


The Civil Rights Museum - Birmingham, Alabama

The Civil Rights Museum – Birmingham, Alabama

Over 50 years ago, Chief Justice, Thurgood Marshall delivered the opinion of the Court with Brown v. Board of Education, stating “We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. . .”

To this day, racial balance is not reflected in public education. In fact, the classroom is as segregated as ever. Putting ‘private independent’ in front of ‘school’ further exaggerates the socioeconomic and racial divide in education.

Recently, I had the privilege of chaperoning a civil rights and service learning school trip to Birmingham & Montgomery, AL. At the Civil Rights Museum, I was confronted with the historical and the contemporary, staring at replicas of two separate and distinctly unequal classrooms – a white classroom circa 1953 and a black classroom circa 1953. The tale of two classrooms really isn’t a tale at all.

Which classroom did I choose for my kids?

I chose one separate and unequal space, private independent (predominantly white) over another, public (mainly black and brown). This self-awareness came with not only self-critique but also self-affirmation.

Why had I made this choice? It’s simple: Exceptional education and resources.

How do I reconcile putting my kids in such a racially unbalanced space? I do it through high parent engagement and advocacy which gives me the agency to create partnerships in my school community that cultivate equitable and inclusive communities.

I have little faith that the racial imbalance in our systems of education will change over the next fifty years. Whether we choose public, charter, private or private independent, the overall success of our children is ultimately dependent on how we show up as parents. We must intentionally show up for our kids in powerful ways that remind them where they are, who they are, who they come from. We must teach them to engage, advocate, have agency, and of course, contribute back to communities that look like them.

Perhaps, our kids will be the generation bold and resourced enough to create classrooms that reflect diversity all the way around.


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This video says it all!

Screen Shot 2018-11-20 at 2.08.41 PM

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How To Be a Total School Fair Rock Star!



How To Be a Total School Fair Rock Star -before, during, and after best practices


You may have been to a couple of school fairs already. They are one of the most important initial stops on the independent school journey. It’s where you gain knowledge and make that first impression.

You can shine bright like a diamond if you take the opportunity to polish up before, during, and after school fairs.

Here are some best practices to get what you need while getting seen, heard and remembered.


  1. Have a clear vision – know why you are applying to independent schools. Have expectations.
  2. Be the best version of you -simply put, make a good impression.
  3. Walk-in with enthusiasm and curiosity -while confident in the value your child and your family can bring to a school, show a strong interest in learning what schools have to offer. Get name/contact info of the representative (parent reps too.)


  1. Stick & Move -be prepared to ask a good question (not one easily found on the website) and then move on so others have a chance to engage too.
  2. Older kids should ask the question -good eye contact and a firm handshake go a long way. Younger children are always welcome, yet tag team with significant other, relative or friend to support the little ones when they get tired.
  3. Attend workshops or panel discussions -some fairs will offer more. Take advantage of the opportunity to engage more with decision makers and families/students currently enrolled at schools


  1. Make notes about your interactions -take these notes and compare them with your open house experiences. Do you see and feel what it is they are promoting?
  2. Have the last words with a thank you -contact the representative (current parent or student included) you spoke with and follow-up with a thank-you-note and question, if applicable.
  3. Remain visible  -attend as many school recruitment events as possible. There are hundreds of families just as amazing as yours applying.

*Let RIISE Fall Boutique Recruitment Event be one of your last stops on Sunday, 10.21-register today at https://riisefbre18.eventbrite.com

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We’re Back! 10/21 – RIISE Fall Boutique Recruitment Event

2018 RIISEFBRE Post #1
Register Now

RIISE celebrates 10 years as a valued lifestyle network that understands, assists, and inspires the unique journey we navigate along with the value we bring to independent school communities.

It’s an honor to continue to build stronger bridges between families of color and independent school culture with relevant resources and events for recruitment, enrollment, and beyond!

Our 9th RIISE Fall Boutique Recruitment Event is one of the last stops on the 2018 admission journey. Don’t miss it.

If you value excellence in education and want to know more about what an independent school could mean for your family, join us this Sunday, 10/21.

Enjoy our Ten Year Celebration Video! https://youtu.be/ImGhZCtAmMs


2:00-3:00p [Panel] The Whole Story: Recruitment | Enrollment | Beyond
3:00-5:00p [Recruitment Fair]
4:30-5:30p [Answers to Good Questions]

Participating Schools
Riverdale Country School (Panel Sponsor)
Greenwich Academy (Panel Sponsor)
Horace Mann School
The Buckley School
Marymount School
Westover School
Ethical Culture Fieldston School
School of the Holy Child Rye
The Harvey School
The Workshop Independent School
Brunswick School

This year’s theme focuses on the whole story: recruitment, enrollment, and beyond for families of color.

We’d love to introduce you to some great schools, awesome parents, and really cool students.

Come and be a part of our story! Spread the love and tell another who values educational excellence.

Register at https://riisefbre18.eventbrite.com

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FBLIVE: Confessions of A Parent ADVOCATE

Facebook Live Confessions of Parent Advocate-2



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Going Beyond – A Gift For You. Are You Ready?

Untitled design


Martha’s Vineyard was epic this year! Thank you to all who attended.

Shout out to Point Made Learning.

Riverdale Country School, Horace Mann School, & Westover School generously made it happen along with donations from unique vendors! We can’t forget the tremendous wisdom of our co-hosts Dr. Barnett & Dr. Jolly.

We brought you back the GIFT of legacy.  Are you ready? Unlock the potential below.


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Requirements: Advocacy & Engagement


Chaz Elon Sr Fresh

This school year is extra special! Having started our indy school journey with kindergarten, my kids are now bookends in upper school -a freshman and a graduating senior! [Applause] Thank you, thank you.

Parents, we make huge investments (our kids & our money) in choosing an independent school education. We’re busy holding it down and all together, but let’s not underestimate the power of investing in visibility and voice. It can have a tremendous payoff for our amazing kids and the entire school community. We bring so much value to our institutions.

My kids are thriving and not just surviving in an independent school because of parent advocacy and engagement. It is very intentional. It can look different between parents. But, one thing is for sure, showing up is everything! It can make things happen. Consider how you’ll advocate and engage this year, and start now. Don’t wait until you have to rely on those relationships.

We should hold schools and ourselves accountable by first building relationships.

  • Make it your business to engage with your head of school & other admin.
  • Support recruitment with the admission team.
  • Partner & volunteer with a diversity of parents & educators to build community.
  • Acknowledge and thank the staff that looks out for the kids.
  • Make suggestions for equitable and inclusive curriculum.
  • Respectfully push back when you need to.
  • Challenge the status quo with thoughtful suggestions when necessary.
  • Walk alongside, and ahead in support of your children of color navigating independent school culture.

Not sure how to build or manage those valuable relationships? Have little to no time to do it? Are you struggling with a challenge? Perhaps, you have a success story you want to share. RIISE is here for all of that through advocacy and engagement. So, stay close and reach out to us directly (info@4RIISE.org)-we got you!

Like many independent school families of children of color, we have a vision, we keep our eyes on the prize, and we have a responsibility.

How will you advocate and engage this year?



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Back to School Tips. Ready? Let’s Go.

Let’s go.
Back to school.


Hey, RIISE Fam!

FACT: The final days of summer and the start of a new school year is upon us!

There is so much to look forward to as we support our kids this new academic year.

We put together a few RIISE tips for a smooth transition and a strong start.

If you have any sage advice to kick off the school year right, please comment below!

*Keep smiling, and take a bit of summer with you.

*Yep, you have to get your head back in the game and begin to open, calendar, and respond to school notices, promptly.

*No matter the grade, take a moment to express to your child/student your excitement and expectations for a phenomenal school year and that you’ll be there to encourage, support & advocate for them.

*Partner as a parent/guardian by sending a brief introduction email to your child’s teacher or dean sharing who your child/family is student’s strengths/areas for growth, and your desire to engage for a successful year!

*Don’t underestimate the power of showing up.

Remember, it takes a village, so share a timely ‘new school year’ tip below.

One more thing…you don’t have to miss RIISE news, updates, people, schools, or events, ever! Just sign up for our upcoming newsletters at www.4RIISE.org

Ready? Let’s go.

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July 25, 12pm – RIISE MID-SUMMER Admission Info Session


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[Newsletter] RIISE MID-SUMMER MUSINGS: Admissions & Martha’s Vineyard



Missing summer already?
It seems as soon as we get into the swing of things, it begins to fade, fast.  

Fact is, summer is actually five days longer than winter.
Then why does it feel so short?

Perhaps, there too many misleading markers:
~ the end and the start of a new school year
~ the beginning and end of summer Friday’s
~ then, there’s Memorial & Labor Day

But, even if we go with Labor Day, we have 
49 days of summer left!
And, RIISE has a few cool events happening.
We hope you can join us!

want to read more? click here.

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