CPCS Teachers Honor Women Who Inspired Them

In honor of Women’s History Month, our teachers at Community Partnership Charter School Elementary wrote personal narratives about women who inspired them. Educators, immigrants, mothers, these ladies overcame hardships and served as role models for our teachers. We are proud to share excerpts from their stories.

Derrick Dunlap, the school’s principal, wrote his personal narrative about Brigid Gala, his assistant principal.

“She inspires me every day,” Mr. Dunlap said. “She is one of the smartest women I have ever met in my life … She is very creative, very forward-thinking. So, that has helped me become better as a principal.”

Personal narratives have been edited for length and clarity.

Ms. Johnson teaches pre-K and lives in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.

One woman I admire is my grandmother, Doreen S. Vialet, a beautiful, intelligent, family-orientated woman who didn’t let anything stop her.

At the age of 16 she got pregnant where she had to drop out and get her GED. However, she continued her education journey where she received her bachelor’s degree in nursing. At this time she now had four children and decided her bachelor’s wouldn’t be enough for the life she wanted. She then continued her education journey and got her master’s degree.

She always wanted us to know, especially as young black men and women, how important education was. Also, the importance of making sure you as a woman can provide for yourself. She motivated me to go to college and make sure I saved money not just for a rainy day but to better my future. She put her family first and made sure we had everything and more.

My grandmother was like a superwoman to me and I will always live by the values she taught us.

Ms. Turner teaches pre-K and lives in Arverne, Queens.

Adelaide Sanford is a woman that I admire. Ms. Sanford has done public speaking and has worked as a national advocate for African-centered education for students of African descent. She has served in the field of education for over 35 years as an educator, education activist, principal, and community organizer. She has also served on the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York.

I had the opportunity to learn from Ms. Sanford when I took a course in education. The course required a lot of writing and she’d give feedback that would encourage you to do more research and push you to become more self reliant and become more confident in your abilities. She was easy to talk to and would not tell you what you might want to hear but what you needed to hear. I have never forgotten about my experience with her as my professor.

This experience along with many others had greatly encouraged me to pursue my career in education.

Ms. Deas teaches fifth grade and lives in the Upper West Side, Manhattan.

A woman who I most admire is my father’s mother, Violet Reid. She was born on Edisto Island, South Carolina, and was raised in Charleston by her mother and her grandmother, who was a former enslaved woman. Despite only receiving a third-grade education because of the inability to afford clothing and sometimes food she still managed to make a fruitful life for herself and family.

At the age of 17 during the Great Depression, my grandmother relocated to New York City and never looked back. She started off cleaning homes for Jewish people, then became a preparer for factories. She negotiated a higher salary on more than one occasion at a time where this was not only unheard of for a woman but also for a black woman. Proudly, this is the cloth that my daughters and myself are cut from!

Gratefully, she was able to see the first black president and would always smile whenever Oprah would do another great something. My grandmother lived to be 103 years old. She survived COVID, the Great Depression and other pandemics. Forever I will miss my grandmother and forever I will carry her memory with me.

Ms. Brisby teaches fourth grade and lives in East Elmhurst, Queens.

Shannon Green is a mother, minister, daughter, wife and friend. Better known as MY MOM! She is a hardworking woman who doesn’t give up. She is a leader in her community and is always a helping hand to her family and friends. She currently teaches second grade in Delaware and has her master’s degree in education. She loves her children and spreads her love through education.

My mother always puts her best foot forward and is very involved in her community in any way she can. She was a part of the choir in her church and also started the Patricia Ann Williams Drama Guild and put on plays for the churches around the community. My mother also studied theater while in high school at Hillcrest in Queens, NY. She continues to inspire me each and every day. After going back to school and getting her master’s she inspired me to do the same which I am currently enrolled in graduate school.

Ms. Ebanks teaches kindergarten and lives in Flatbush, Brooklyn.

Growing up, I used to try my hardest to understand why everyone gravitated to my mother like a magnet at its highest force. They would take her lead, seek advice from her, and always come over.

My mother Advira Ebanks is a phenomenal woman! She is the woman who molded me into the individual I am today. She installed morals and etiquette into my sisters and me which took us down a straight path in life. She is a shield, nurturer and the protector of our family.

My mother inspires me because she made me the best version of me. As a single parent she always provided and thrived for her girls to be independent strong women. She is very brave and taught us to use our fears to accomplish our goals.

Ms. Alvarado teaches English as a Second Language and lives in Ridgewood, Queens.

My grandmother Elsie May Wagner was and is the most amazing woman that I have ever met. She migrated to the United States in March 1971, just shy of her 53rd birthday. Like many, she came to this country for an opportunity that her country Honduras was unable to give her.

Her goal was to bring every one of her children and grandchildren to this country. She was able to reach that goal in 2007. If it were not for her, I would not have been born in this country and would not have been given the opportunities that this country has brought to me and my entire family.

Even though she passed away on August 27, 2011, we continue to remember her for the incredible person she was to all of us.

Ms. Phyllis teaches pre-K and lives in Downtown Brooklyn.

My mom, Beatrice, has taught me various things but one of the most important things was to always believe in myself. She has taught me to always be true to myself and love myself first. She taught me that true love isn’t painful but exhilarating, fun, joyful, giving, honesty, extremely respectful, loyal, amazingly wonderful, marvelous, passionate, romantic, beautiful to be enjoyed.

The legacy of my beloved mother will live eternal through her family which includes her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and a host of nieces and nephews. I admire my mom Beatrice because she was the greatest mother, wife, aunt, sister, grandmother and friend, inspiration, uplifting caregiver, supportive, trustworthy, beautiful inside and out woman I’ve had the pleasure of knowing.

Ms. Veloz teaches first grade and lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

I guess it’s true what they say, not all heroes wear capes. I can only begin to imagine the fear my mother Ysabela smiled through when leaving the Dominican Republic. She waved goodbye to the language, the food, the people, the peacefulness, and most importantly, the culture that defined her. She left the comfort of all she had known to provide for her four girls. She came to America, worked endlessly and tirelessly until my sister and I could join her.

Growing up, we lived a simple and humble life that lacked nothing and held an abundance of love. I admire her work ethic, kind heart and honesty. It is because of her that I am the zesty, independent and strong-minded woman I am today. I still live by her words of wisdom. It is because of her that I “aspire to inspire before I expire.”

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