After earning my bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University and my master’s degree in educational leadership from Florida Gulf Coast University, I taught first, second and third grades in Florida and most recently at Claxton Elementary in Asheville.
I found the opportunity gap between Black and white students in Asheville egregious and disheartening. I knew I wanted to broaden my reach and support children beyond my classroom, and that’s when I found Read to Succeed Asheville/Buncombe.
Fully aligned with the mission and heart of R2S, I decided to take a leap out of the classroom and into nonprofit work in the community.
Kids always inspire and challenge me to think bigger, brighter and outside the box. Once when I was teaching, a student noticed that I was feeling frustrated; she walked up to me and said, “Mrs. Stanley, remember there is always more than one way to solve a problem.”
She was right! I take that with me everywhere I go. The opportunity gap is a problem, but we can work together to support our students. Our children — all children — deserve the very best that we have to offer, and it is our duty to give them the best possible education.
Who inspired me to pursue my work? Black women! More explicitly, Edna, Jonnie Ruth, Betty, Gloria and Joan (my grandmother, mother and aunts). I come from a long line of Black women educators. Education runs through my veins! Despite any and all obstacles we face, the Black women in my family and all over the world have risen and continue to rise to the occasion/challenge. It is only with direct input from Black women leaders in our community that we can dismantle systems of oppression and close the opportunity gap.
I am overjoyed at the sight of dedicated community partners coming together to support our children who have historically been pushed to the margins.
While the transition from managing a classroom full of young students to leading an organization full of adult volunteers had its challenges, as a co-executive director, I’m also learning the complex ins and outs of financial management. As a small organization with limited staff, R2S faces its own challenges around serving our community with as much fidelity, intention and high-quality resources as we would like.
— Jaimee Stanley
Read to Succeed Asheville/Buncombe