Antoinette Pearson, National Fellowship, Cohort 3
State and City of Residence:
What brought you to work in education?
I have always considered myself an advocate and servant for people, particularly children, who may or may not have someone to advocate for them. Our children are part of situations they didn't choose and why should they be penalized or their future diminished by choices not made by them. Consequently, I personally make it my mission to create equitable and accessible opportunities for learning for every child I encountered.
Moreover, the teachers who are charged to teach and serve our children need to be given just as much nurturing as the children. The challenges they face were not created by them yet they have to navigate through them and be successful. The desire or the will is not lacking; it may be the support and the knowledge on how that has been provided to them.
So, as I continue my journey in education, I focus to educate and empower students and teachers.
Tell us about something that you have done in education that you feel has made or will make a big difference for your community?
I have recently published a book (January 2017) entitled, Truth Transforms Education: A Framework for New School Leaders. This book was created to provide a framework to individuals beginning their journey as new leaders or educational organization leaders. A new leadership position is daunting and can be overwhelming. This book will help the leader begin thinking about foundational principles necessary to be impactful in this role.
If this book helps provide insight and self reflective thoughts for those in the role or considering the role, and helps ground them with purpose and passion in this work, I will have accomplished my goal.
What’s your favorite part about being an Educator Voice Fellow?
The ability to meet people in different areas of the country and to learn about those areas was one of my favorite parts. It provided me with opportunities to expand my experiences and my knowledge. I always want to keep learning.
If you could change just one thing about our current education system, what would it be?
I think the biggest concern that needs to be addressed but is causing much angst and despair is how we fund schools. Funding schools essentially creates inequitable systems that are barriers for students, particularly children of color or in impoverished areas. The reason why this issue has not been tackled head on is because it shifts the focus of Power and Privilege from those who have held it for years. Changing how schools are funded ask for people to move into the arena beyond their comfort zones. And that makes people uncomfortable, so it is often avoided. But for those areas of the country and districts who have found a way to create a more equitable funding formula (there is no perfect one), the dynamics of achievement has positively change. But there has to be a commitment that I don't think most people are ready for yet.
What’s the best thing a student ever said to you?
Thank you for not giving up on me and teaching me what you did. It helped me be better.
What’s your dream vacation?
To relax on white sand beaches, listen to jazz, enjoy great friends. Time is frozen.
What is one fun fact that most people don’t know about you?
I draw and love art (abstract). I am always attracted to vibrant colors and pictures that exude emotions.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
My biggest inspiration would be my mother. She always thinks beyond the present. She sees what no one else sees. And when she discusses her ideas, you would think she is crazy, but she knows the impact of her vision, and she works to make it a reality, whether she has one person or no one behind her. Why? Because there is a need and she is going to do what is in her power to address it. Failure is not even considered. She gives it her all and doesn't look back.
That's where I am trying to go: be innovative, creative and resilient.
Anything else you’d like to share?
The only thing we as educators need to consider when making decisions in education is "Are we doing what is best for kids?" If not, move on.
Dr. Antoinette Pearson has experienced every level in the public school system. Antoinette matriculated through Detroit Public Schools, graduated from Renaissance High School in 1992, and became an educator in Detroit for 18 years. Graduating in 1996 with a B.A. in Secondary English Education and a minor in US History from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, Antoinette came back to Detroit with aspirations to work in her community and make an impact on education. Her desire to be a change agent in education motivates her to provide fair and equitable opportunities for learning. From her experience teaching English and Social Studies to increasing attendance during her tenure as principal of Osborn Upper High School, Antoinette has a wealth of experience that reinforces her commitment to not only empower the young scholars in her school but also the parents and community to be lifelong contributors to an environment of support and learning.