Kacy Coble - Why I Believe Memphis Academy
I stand with Believe Memphis Academy because the school’s mission deeply resonates with me, personally and professionally. This city, my adopted home, is full of brilliant minds and abundant opportunity. We have a responsibility to one another, to the present and the future, to ensure that all our students are given every opportunity to succeed in life, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, zip code, family structure, language, or disability. This I firmly believe. I also firmly believe (know) that education is a civil rights issue which we cannot afford to ignore.
We are all aware of the achievement gap. It is undeniable. I witnessed it first-hand at my public school. Despite the passion and creativity of so many teachers, I watched classmates fall behind and stay behind right through graduation. I took an elective journalism class as a high school senior. One of my friends, who I’d been in school with for years, asked me to proof read an article she had written for class. After getting through the first few sentences, I had to leave the classroom and go to the restroom to cry. My friend was passionate about her work and wanted to be a writer. She had always loved school and given it her all. But our school had failed her. My friend couldn’t write a complete sentence. She couldn’t spell. She didn’t have a handle on basic grammar. And she was graduating from high school in three months’ time. This friend was financially disadvantaged, but otherwise had everything going for her. That’s when I realized that this achievement gap is actually an opportunity and equity gap. I recall being struck by the inequity and overwhelmed by a conviction that something must be done. And something is being done.
Many, many educators across the country are working tirelessly to close this opportunity and equity gap, and Memphis is home to a tremendous group of individuals who are invested and passionate about improving access to quality education in our city. No matter where you are, I think you are responsible for the well-being of those in your community. My community is Memphis.
I first moved to Memphis eight years ago to pursue a graduate degree. At that time, I had no intention of staying, but this city got a hold of me, like it does for so many. The thing about Memphis is almost impossible to describe to an outsider but for an insider, that thing is impossible to deny. My best attempt to describe it will fall short. But, to give you an idea – Memphis draws you in with a richness, a depth, a passion, and a soul that is bigger than any one individual but recognizable in each face. When you go to the store, church, a restaurant, you see it. You hear it. Memphians are ready. Memphians are charged. Memphians have been fighting the good fight and they are prepared to keep fighting the good fight for the future.
Believe Memphis Academy will take up that fight against a persistent and pernicious opportunity and equity gap by providing free, quality education to students who otherwise might not have access. So, when I got the call to join the founding board of Believe Memphis Academy, I was elated. It isn’t every day that you get the opportunity to work alongside a group of talented, community-oriented people seeking to do the hard work at the right time in the right place. It is a truly an honor to serve alongside the founding board members of Believe Memphis Academy, the school’s leadership team, and Shelby County Schools.
Kacy Coble is the Founding Board Secretary of Believe Memphis Academy, and an attorney at Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP. Ms. Coble holds a Bachelor of Art degree from Union University and a law degree from the Cecil Humphreys School of Law at the University of Memphis. After law school, Ms. Coble built a strong track record of accomplishment at various law firms in Texas and California but eventually sought out opportunities to return to Memphis because she believes in the city’s potential and its people. Her passion for justice continued as she worked within organizations like Stand for Children, the Fair Housing Center and The Office of the Advocate for the Non-Custodial Parent. In addition, Ms. Coble spent several years representing undocumented immigrants before the Executive Office for Immigration Review. She currently practices labor and employment litigation and HR compliance.