Jacque Rowe Fields - Why I Believe Memphis Academy
In 1972, the federal courts mandated desegregation of Memphis schools through busing children to integrate the schools. In the fall of 1973, I boarded a yellow school bus in Memphis and rode from my Bethel Grove neighborhood school to Fox Meadows Elementary.
Fox Meadows may as well have been one thousand miles away. It certainly seemed like a foreign land. It felt as if we were treated like refugees seeking political asylum at Fox Meadows. We did not speak the language, we did not understand the Fox Meadows culture, and although the government had given us the right to be there… well, let’s just say it was not Mrs. Adams’ classroom.
Mrs. Adams! Mrs. Adams was my first-grade teacher at Bethel Grove Elementary. I absolutely adored her and believed that I was her favorite student. EVERY student in Mrs. Adams’ class thought that they were the favorite student. Mrs. Adams was an “old school” educator. She had mastered the science of warm/strict (before that was a thing) and could manage an entire classroom with just a penetrating glance over her horn-rimmed glasses.
Mrs. Adams made me believe I could read any book and solve any math problem. Equally important as the phonics and arithmetic she taught, Adams convinced me that I was smart. Unbeknownst to me at that time, Mrs. Adams planted the seed for education that blossomed into a lifelong passion and sparked the confidence that would sustain me through the Fox Meadows years and beyond.
Undoubtedly, my Memphis public school education influenced my choice to serve young people and families. As a speech pathologist, higher education administrator and now assistant principal, I have always strived to help families make informed decisions that impact the quality of their lives. For me, nothing has more power to lift a family, impact a neighborhood and empower a community than an excellent school.
Frederick Douglass said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Building excellent neighborhood schools is an essential component to building strong families and nurturing strong children who reach their full potential. That is why I serve as a founding board member of Believe Memphis Academy.
I had the privilege of working alongside Danny Song at a Memphis charter school. Danny Song is steeped in eternal verities such as justice and compassion. His work ethic is rivaled only by his intellect. When he shared the mission of his new school, Believe Memphis Academy, I knew it was my opportunity to give back to children what Mrs. Adams had given to me.
BMA, under the leadership of Danny Song will be a school where students feel a sense of belonging. Students will be challenged academically and rigorously supported to reach their full potential at BMA. I am proud of the work we are doing to create an excellent school. Starting a new school is a tedious journey but the potential rewards outweigh the hard work. I want every student that attends Believe Memphis Academy to one day proudly say, “Believe Memphis Academy convinced me that I AM smart”!
I am thankful to Mrs. Adams for lighting that spark for me many years ago. I am thankful to serve on the founding team of Believe Memphis Academy for the chance to build strong children. I Believe Memphis…