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This I Believe...

everyone you meet is a part of your village.

Growing up in the Daniels’ home was tough. Both my parents were gone. There were six cousins being raised by their HIV positive grandmother. Everyone was angry and sad all the time. I'll spare you the gory details; let's just say school became our only peace but even that was a challenge with no support. In the Daniels’ home, most people dropped out of high school to go to work. As a little girl, college was only a fantasy. There was this one school para, Mrs. Johnson. I remember her as far back as 2nd grade telling me I could accomplish anything. She followed me all the way to middle school. She switched schools every time I did just to keep encouraging ME.

At least that's what I thought.

Then there was Mr. Nelson. My 5th and 6th grade math teacher. He had this thing. The last student in the class had to turn on the tape player. Yes I'm that old, I listened to cassette tapes. There was a new math song with a new genre daily. We spent the first ten minutes just dancing around the room. That's the moment I fell in love with mathematics.

In middle school we, the Daniels, found out my grandmother’s health was getting worse and then DCF came in to prepare us for our possible group homes. You have no idea how out of control life was at this point. I was getting sent to the school counselor daily because no-one knew how to help me control my emotions. Then I met Mrs. Charles. She wasn't even my teacher. She randomly pulled me into her room one day and started yelling at me. She was the first person to hold me accountable for my actions. She told me no matter what is going on around me I get to decide how I react. That might have been the best advice I ever received. Whenever I got in trouble everyone just sent me to Mrs. Charles. I hated hearing her mouth so much that I started to act right. One day she invited me over to have Thanksgiving with her family. It was the first family holiday I ever experienced. At dinner the elders, who were all scholars, talked about their colleges and the children were talking about the colleges they wanted to attend. Someone asked me what school I wanted to go to. Although I had no answer this was the first time I thought, I could, maybe, possibly go to college.

So plans were made and many were changed. College was very different for me because I had to be an adult very early. I was almost ready to quit when I got pregnant and then Dr. Joe Fields brought me a baby shower gift. He was so excited for me and told me he couldn't wait to see my little boy grow. He had solidated a place in my life without me knowing. He pushed me right into this job as a school teacher.

Mr. Nelson retired but he was the start of going into a degree in mathematics without him even knowing it. Mrs. Johnson is somewhere inspiring someone else. Mrs. Charles calls me her daughter and even today is by my side with every achievement. Dr. Joe Fields, through college, was my mentor for life decisions but I am sure he was just a professor doing his job. Truth is, educating children is cool but I want to inspire. I want to hold you accountable for your education and even, your life. I believe everyone you meet is a part of your village. The good, the bad, and the great all shape you to push forward and become your greatest.

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