|This isn’t a story about a kid at all. Well, at least not directly. But rather, her mother, Sylvia. A woman who remained fairly unknown by those in her Texas barrio. Until she went to school that is. Sylvia came from a tradition of women as quiet, undisruptive homemakers. Her husband worked, formed opinions, and spoke out on them. Sylvia cooked, cleaned, cared for the kids (and her spouse), and kept the house in order. She once was content doing this. It was what she knew. She was simply following in the footsteps of her mother and her grandmother and all of the respected women who came before her. Victor didn’t like her going out much. And Sylvia didn’t think twice about it. Until Tanya mentioned MicroSociety, that is.
Excitedly coming in from her day at school, 4th grade Tanya threw her bookbag to the floor, “Mama, I have a job. I was hired by the Court as a reporter.” Her glowing smile told the tale of pride better than mere words ever could. At first uncomfortable by the unfamiliar world of work, with each day’s stories, Sylvia warmed to the idea. So much so that when the school called for parent volunteers, Sylvia’s form was one of the first to reach the office.
Seeing the children, boys and girls, large and small, rush with intention to their jobs, bringing with them plans, visions, and dreams, brought about an awakening in Sylvia. She saw in her daughter a future that she had never seen for herself. And so she did what was only natural. Returned to the school, day after day, to lend her support.
Sylvia’s contributions did not go unnoticed. At the end of the school year, the principal, Ms. Vargas, asked her to come into her office. A place Sylvia had never gone before. “As you may have heard, I will be retiring next year. But before I go, I would like to extend an opportunity to you. It is unanimous…we would love for you to serve as our full-time parent coordinator.” There was a time when Sylvia would not dare ask Victor such a question. But that was before. Before he had seen such light and promise in his daughter’s eyes. Sylvia spoke with her husband that same evening once Tanya had gone to bed. “If it makes you happy,” was Victor’s response. And it did.
Sylvia attended conferences, advocating for MicroSociety. She led workshops. She rallied parents and partners for increased aid. She saved the program when it was in danger of being removed. That’s right. The new principal had other priorities. Sitting in a staff meeting, Sylvia could not believe that the teachers uttered not a word as the principal spoke of her plans to phase Micro out. Following the meeting, she approached a lingering cluster. “Did Ms. Vargas not train you better than this?” she hissed,” You are supposed to fight for what you believe in. Do you not believe in what this is doing for our kids?”
Her riot act worked. The teachers organized a group to approach the superintendent, who heard their case and had the principal removed. MicroSociety would live to see another day. Rather many days, as the model in this Texas school still thrives today. Credit to Sylvia. Now quite known in her Texas barrio. And outside of it too.
The voices of mothers serve to protect, comfort, and instill wisdom. They inject our souls with confidence, pride, and a belief in the infinite and attainable possibilities that the world holds. MicroSociety extends a Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms in our community. You are the very first teachers and nurturers of our children. There is no price tag on the tireless work that you do.