As a Jacksonville native, I attended public schools, and even before having kids, I knew that's where I wanted mine to go. I think my early education played a huge part in who I am today, and I hope that attending public schools will also impart ambition and an open mind in my children.
My family is lucky to live near an excellent neighborhood school, so between home and school, I know my kids will get what they need. But what about their classmates and peers around town, I wondered. This is why I wanted to learn about how I can help other Jacksonville kids get the successful start they need and the main reason I attended ONE by ONE.
When I met my tablemates at the convention, I was impressed by the diversity of groups represented--parents, teachers, a PTA board member, a Teen Court Judge, a non-profit organization--yet all of us had but one united goal: making our schools the best they can be for our children.
After hearing the main presentations, I felt more in-the-know on the main issues at hand, like graduation rates and school grades, and after the breakout session I chose, I better understood the function of school and county PTAs and how I, as an individual, can advocate for all children in Duval County. I definitely came away energized and ready to take action (and I already have!).
So personally, as parent and educator who wants to believe in public schools, I got exactly what I was looking for at ONE by ONE. But I was amazed by how many more people like me exist!
The amount of passion for public schools that exists in this city amazed me. At the convention, there were all kinds of people, united by one mission, and if you felt that energy and heard their excitement, you'd think they must all represent a top county full of sought-after schools that's on its way to being even better. In reality, however, I hear friends talk about moving to nearby counties to get their kids into "excellent" schools, and now I want to shout, "We have excellent schools right here, along with all the culture and convenience of a metropolitan city!"
I wish I could bottle the energy and concern and optimism I felt at ONE by ONE and share it with everyone who considers going elsewhere for excellent schools!
-- Kayla D.