Take Shasheema McKinney, for example — born, raised, and educated in Birmingham, Shasheema is intricately a part of the history of our city and shares some of the experiences her children are now living. Ed first met Shasheema and her three children, two of whom attend South Hampton K-8, during a home visit as a part of Ed’s Family Partnership Initiative — one of Ed’s signature programs that aims to build relationships with families and connect them to resources and opportunities that interest them.
Shasheema knows that the one of the most important things she can do for her children is to support them so they are a path to accomplishing their dreams: Joy, a 5th grader at South Hampton, who wants to be a chef, and little Noah, who is finishing second grade.
“The way I look at it, they deserve to have every opportunity to succeed—and I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure they do,” she says with her youngest – a three-year-old girl – beside her in the living room, reading a book.
When it came to connecting her children to additional opportunities, Shasheema was clear that she held high expectations for Joy and Noah’s academic success. So, through the Family Partnership Initiative, Shasheema and her family have connected with students in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Honors Program, who have been tutoring Joy and Noah ever since.
“Other families should know about the resources that are available for our students,” Shasheema says, referring in part to her experience with the Family Partnership Initiative, but also to the many outside resources that exist in Birmingham for students and their families. “For me it has meant a lot to know that there are other people who care about my kids.”
As you might have guessed, building our Network and programs is not just about Ed – it is not just a job. It is about connecting the multitudes of people in our community who believe in Birmingham’s kids and love Birmingham’s kids. It is about replicating Shasheema, Joy, and Noah’s story so more and more students are connected to all of the opportunities and experiences they desire and deserve. And it is about increasing the number of people who demand excellence for Birmingham’s students, just like Shasheema did and continues to do everyday.
“All kids deserve to experience what they are learning in the classroom — outside of the school day, we go museums to learn more about what they are experiencing in school. Even if I don’t enjoy it myself,” she laughs, “I don’t deprive them of experiencing what they enjoy and what is good for them.”
Shasheema, thank you for opening your door, welcoming Ed into your story, and for modeling what it means to maintain and act on high expectations for Birmingham students. We look forward to making history with you!