Jacob Hudson - Why I Believe Memphis Academy
I want to cultivate a space where young men and women grow into leaders. I desire to help students discover their own unique talents that will not only help them be successful but can be used to push others toward success as well. I grew up in Newbern, TN: a predominantly white farming town with few education options. There was only the county or the city school, both with average education standings. The high school I attended was very basic and most students hoped that the four years would lead to a college acceptance letter. Although it was unspoken, college was laid out as the most successful path after graduation. However, there was no college prep, no counseling or any coaching on how to actually make it through college. Only the students with the highest GPAs or greatest ACT scores were helped by the administration. No one invested in my education; this left me unmotivated and extremely unprepared for college. I received that acceptance letter but ended up dropping out because I had no idea what I wanted to do or why I was even there. My education was decent but I still lacked the fundamental skills needed to succeed in higher education and adulthood.
Living in Memphis has opened my eyes to many things. While working for Memphis Athletic Ministries, I saw the repercussions of systematic injustice within urban education. Not only are schools missing the practical skills to help students succeed beyond high school, but they are also failing to provide a strong education. The number of children who cannot read on grade level in Memphis is a reflection of how unhealthy the learning environments are in this city. I always asked my MAM kids how their day went at school, and the majority of them had the same answer each time: they hated it. The first thing I had to do some days is to try and get the kids to process their day in order to be able to move on from the chaos that happened at their respective schools. After visiting several schools, I realized that many teachers were also experiencing burn out and there was a lack of purposeful discipline. In addition, I have learned about the literacy gap between sub-groups of students in our community. This frustrates me and motivates me to encourage scholars to see that education can bring greater opportunities to have a better future. Is it impossible for this to happen in the schools they have access too? No, it is not impossible, but it is very difficult. At MAM I wanted to hear just once that a student loved school and their teachers and that they felt safe. Now, I want to be on the other side of working with kids in our community. I desire to be a part of providing a structured, warm environment full of caring people that want to see scholars have the best education possible and have access to the greatest opportunities available. I want them to be able to enjoy school and actually want to be there. I believe the culture of a school can change a child's whole education experience.
After reviewing Believe Memphis Academy’s Culture Statement, I knew that I wanted join the team. I could feel the urgency to tackle these injustices from a different angle and the expectations for change. On my tour, I noticed that every decision is based from the “Kids First” mentality and it honestly shows down to the smallest details. I truly believe that Believe Memphis Academy is part of radically improving urban education. Seeing the genuine care for these scholars and their families is what ultimately draws me to Believe.
My mission is to cultivate a space where young men and women grow into leaders. I desire to help students discover their own unique talents that will not only help them be successful but can be used to push others toward success as well. Believe Memphis Academy is strategically investing in the youth that will lead our future: “We, therefore, push ourselves to be the warmest and most strict school that provides a safe, focused, rigorous, urgent, and joyful learning environment”. Kids can grow the most when they feel safe, respected, and cared for. This will also push them to encourage and help one another. I look forward to being able to help establish this culture even more at the school. It is no coincidence that the work I have been doing at MAM has helped prepare me for the position that I will have at Believe Memphis Academy.