- A: Male engagement uplifts the culture of any school. It makes our students feel safe, secure and empowered in a different way. As a single mom, I made sure I knew all teachers, coaches, camp counselors, and friend’s parents. I enlisted the help of my parents and close friends to be a part of our village. Boys need to connects to their village, the family, neighbors and community around them. My Suns are the reason I became so passionate about Family and Community Engagement. I got more deeply involved in the advocacy of Black Male Engagement, because I saw first hand how important it was to have MEN in the lives of BOYS. K. Michelle said it best, “you can’t raise a man”, but I believe that you can rear boys to become strong, empowered, educated and wonderful men who take care of themselves, their families and communities. My boys have always been engaged in supporting their community, advocating for social justice causes and doing the right thing for others because they saw me doing it. I exposed them to male family members, community leaders and friends who also are the example of this. Male engagement is a critical piece to family engagement because it links our Black boys to their kingdom rite as care takers, role models and protectors.
- A: I often say my boys have taught me more than I could ever teach them. It is with that vulnerability and experience that I have used my voice to empower other single mothers. In the African American community we raise our sons with confidence and the world mistakes it for arrogance. However, it is perfectly acceptable for their counterparts to exhibit said behavior without question. You see, we have worked this thing wrong. We let go as they get older; and it is at this time that they need us most to guide them through adolescence and young adulthood. We cannot forget our history, the stigma that this country has on our culture and community. It takes a village to raise a child! As a single mother, I still had my mom, my family and influential persons to help ensure my boys reached their full potential. We made it through the middle and high school years and my Suns are now a Senior in college, Sophomore in college and a Freshman in college. I am humbled, grateful and amazed.
- In this present educational climate it is imperative that families learn to advocate for their children, and dual accountability is key! As a single mother, Tonya’s children often attended three different schools, in different areas; while this was NOT easy, it was necessary. I was intentional about ensuring that each of my Suns found success based off their learning styles and personalities. The boys possessed different learning styles that required me to facilitate what was best for who. Children are not clones, and as parents we have the responsibility of placing them in the best learning environment.
- My message to single mothers and fathers who are doing the job along to simply remember this! There are family, loved ones, fellow parents and decent human beings that are in various parts of the world, living similar stories, falling yet picking themselves back up in order for their sons to be the Kings they were chosen to be. Take every day one step at a time and remember the power of the village. You’re not alone!
LEADright , Senior Associate, Tonya Winters Buford
678 – 266 – 2852, [email protected]
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.