Dear First Teacher Network,
If you want to support us, but not read our (pretty long) letter, please click here!
In a year of exhausting, wearying, and anxiety-inducing news, we write today to tell you that First Teacher is thriving and that we are full of hope. First Teacher is thriving because every one of you has invested in something so much bigger than a school-readiness program; you have invested in the power of a strong, supportive community that builds together, shifts together, and believes together.
With you, we are building our:
Movement: This year we are welcoming 50 more families to First Teacher. (That will make 125!)
Partnerships: This year we are partnering with an incredible Boston Public School, the Haynes Early Education Center, which is located right down the street from us. This is a dream come true, and the beginning of our journey towards being fully integrated into Boston Public Schools with pre-kindergarten programs.
Community: We are currently facilitating Spanish programming to ensure the movement is accessible to all families.
Selves: Each of our nine-person staff will participate in authentic, specialized staff development to build our own capacity and that of First Teacher.
With you, we are shifting:
The way we speak: When you invest in First Teacher, you invest in the idea that the words “underprivileged”, “disadvantaged”, and “low socio-economic status” are not words that people use to describe themselves, and that the accurate words to describe First Teacher families are instead: powerful, strong, resilient, committed, and resourceful. Language matters.
The way we assess: When you invest in First Teacher, you invest in the idea that all our tools should be parent-centered, which fits our assets-based approach and belief that parents/caregivers have the power to tell their own story of growth, connection, and transformation.
The way we fundraise: When you invest in First Teacher, you invest in the idea of collaboration, not competition. We do not believe we are the be-all, end-all of parent teaching and learning and support; we operate as a critical piece in parent- and neighborhood-lead movements. In that vein, as with last year’s letter, this year we again take a risk and ask that you consider investing not only in the First Teacher movement, but in powerful parents of color that are part of our networks whose own ideas are playing a major role in re-creating a community where everyone is loved, safe, and supported:
S.H.E (Sisterhood Healing Empowerment)*was founded in 2016 by Cynda Aleida, a First Teacher parent, who is passionate about bringing healing to women in the community. Cynda facilitates monthly healing retreats, often in the First Teacher office. Many First Teacher mothers are part of SHE, and we understand that their own healing is closely tied to how they parent their children.
Phenomenal Moms** was founded in 2016 by LaToya Gayle, a Boston mom and education advocate, to help parents navigate the k-12 education landscape. They provide group & personal trainings to increase parents’ advocacy skills and access to the type of information necessary to make informed choices regarding their children’s schooling. First Teacher families have older school-age children, and we understand parent support and networking cannot stop when children enter school.
With you, we believe:
Parents in Roxbury and Dorchester know what we need, and will seek it, to ensure our children are successful in school and life.
Those of us with more access must fight for those with less; counterintuitively, we must do so by listening and learning, not talking and teaching.
Each of our investments -- of time, faith, talent, energy, and money -- is critical to the success of the First Teacher movement and ultimately, allow us to continue to have hope in our shared future.
Last year, thanks to you, we surpassed our annual appeal goal of $15,000 because you dug deep and stretched yourself to give an amount that felt significant. This year our goal is $20,000 because we are growing, and movements need money to successfully grow. Are you able to support this growth? Please click here!
And as always, thank you for believing that every child has the right to be prepared for school and that every parent or caregiver has the power to help them do so.
With love, respect, and gratitude,
Shantae and Dinah
Co-Founders of First Teacher
P.S. You will also receive this same letter in the real mail with an option to write a check if that is what you prefer!
*Tax-deductible checks for S.H.E should be made out to: Union Capital Boston f/b/o S.H.E. Please send to:
Union Capital Boston
1544 Columbus Avenue
Roxbury, MA 02119
**Tax-deductible checks for Phenomenal Moms should be made out to: South End Soccer f/b/o Phenomenal Moms. Please send to:
South End Soccer
PO Box 180833
Boston, MA 02118