Reinventing America’s Schools

Mariama Carson

Founder and Principal, Global Preparatory Academy Indianapolis

In all of my children, I see myself. In all of my children, I see possibilities, but for them, their circumstances are just different than mine. So I was raised with two parents, both professionals, had three sisters, very controlled environment, very structured. But what I see with my children here, they don't have that. Not all of them, but some of them don't. So in our school here, 70 percent of the kids come from this community. About 73 percent of our children receive free and reduced price lunch. But the vision of the school also attracts 30 percent of children all around the city. So it's a very beautifully diverse environment, but the struggles of my 70 percent are what bring me here.

There's a group of kids, no matter what, they'd be fine. They've got parents, they've got support, but it's my other children that, to many educators, they throw those kids away. They're harder. You have to prove yourself to them. You have to respect them in order to get respect. And I know that kids like these, like mine that I love, are dying in schools all over the place. Because people are not invested. So when I hear teachers talk gruff with them or lose patience with them, this can be the utopia that changes their lives when it comes to how they see themselves. How they want to serve others and what they can be. So it started as a dual language school, but this is so much bigger than that. It's like Spanish almost became secondary. Serving children well is primary. And so I tell our teachers, and I also tell people in interviews, this is my ministry. So if you're looking for a job, don't come here. Because it is too hard and it takes every bit of you to do it well.

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