My daughter’s voice mattered. Happy National Charter Schools Week!

By Alana Harris

When my daughter came home and told me that she didn’t like the food served at her school the first time, my initial thought was she was just being picky. After hearing her complain a few more times,  I suggested she write a letter to the founder of her charter school.

Someone who has always encouraged the students to be independent thinkers. But I honestly didn’t think he would respond to my daughter’s letter about the undesirable food being served in her school.

My daughter is 7 years old. To be able to express your displeasure about something that you know is supposed to bring you something good or positive (like a full stomach and satisfied palette) at such a young age was impressive. I’m glad she wrote the letter because not only did he respond but he did so quickly and with the invitation to stay in touch with him should ever have another issue or need his assistance.

He listened. And he cared.

As a busy parent, especially a single mom, we need things to work as they are supposed to. The bus needs to come on time and be safe. The babysitter needs to show up. And yes, the food at school needs to be good enough to fuel my daughter’s nourishment needs.

When the founder responded to my daughter he didn’t do so in a way that simply thanked her for her feedback and nothing else. He said that he would do something about it. He would, in fact, look into changing the food the school offered. He wanted to be sure the students, our children, were given all the necessary tools they needed to be successful in school, including not being hungry.

While this may be a small, maybe even insignificant victory for some or most, it was an experience that spoke volumes to me. My daughter is the center of my universe, but she is only one child in this school. The act of support and inclusiveness that the originator of this charter school deposited something more than a listening ear in my daughter. He showed her that she mattered and her opinion matters.

I believe that’s what a “well-rounded” education should do. It should encompass leaders and educators who care about investing in every part of the child, not just their intelligence. It requires that we understand and act upon the belief that social services are just as much part of the schoolhouse as the curriculum and assessments. It’s hard to learn when you’re hungry. 

I’m proud of my daughter for speaking up. And I salute the founder of Bricolage Academy for caring about our children in celebration of National Charter Schools Week.

This post was written by Alana Harris. Alana is the proud mother of three children. She is the Community Outreach Director of the Dryades Public Market. Alana is also the founder of the New Orleans Creole Bella Baby Dolls, a socially conscious group of black women dedicated to preserving the culture of New Orleans.