Inspiration on a Monday Night

Last night we attended a gathering to meet one of the APS board of education candidates from District 9 at-large now facing a run-off on December 3rd. Spending time with parents and neighbors who are dedicated to education is always energizing, but we hit a new high talking to Charles Lawrence, a father of three who recently ran and lost a race for the seat on the board representing District 5.
Charles was goaded into action by a fellow parent who convinced him to run. Entirely new to the political process, he ran his race alone, fueled by little beyond his own energy and a desire for positive change in the city’s schools. Charles walked the neighborhoods in his southwest Atlanta district, where he’d grown up, and sat down with people who knew him from elementary school. He convinced non-voters to show up at the polls. Out of his hundreds of calls and walks emerged an incredible sense of community and the possibilities for change. Charles told us story after story, smiling at the memories. “My daughter just turned eighteen,” he said, “and the first time she went to the polls, she was able to vote for her father.”
As we talked, we couldn’t help marveling at Charles Lawrence’s courage. A political novice, he jumped into the race with no experience and no one to guide him. He knocked on the doors of hundreds of strangers, made mistakes and learned from them, and asked for help wherever he could find it. Standing up at candidate forums and in people’s living rooms, he spoke from the heart about his deepest held beliefs.
Many people opened a newspaper or a computer on the morning of November 6th to see who the winners were in the Atlanta elections. Charles Lawrence was not among them. District 5’s race was a crowded one, and though Charles did much better than anyone had expected, he didn’t make the run-off. But Charles doesn’t see it that way. In running for the Atlanta school board, Charles found out what happens when you take a leap of faith and throw yourself fully behind your passion. It changes you. And it opens up worlds that you never knew existed.
Courage. Passion. Engagement. These are the very qualities we are committed to instilling in New School students. In this season of Thanksgiving, we are grateful for the many parents who are dedicated to finding and creating educational opportunities for their children. The city grows stronger and our kids are better served when we all roll up our sleeves and jump in.