Growing up, Quentessa questioned why all the kids who looked like her in her urban, low- income, predominantly black neighborhood weren’t getting what she was getting. She started kindergarten at her neighborhood school, but right before she started first grade she learned that she would have to attend a predominately white school in the suburbs that was 45 minutes away. Certain sections of her neighborhood were part of the bussing that took place in Indiana for desegregation. Initially she was devasted to hear that she wouldn’t be able to attend her neighborhood school, but soon after attending the new school, Quentessa was identified as being gifted.
The rigorous curriculum at her new school allowed her to have more options, be exposed to more cultures and have more experiences. She went on field trips that none of her neighborhood friends went on and took classes that challenged her. Quentessa attributes her success today to the quality education she received, but her experiences also sparked a desire to see all children receive a quality education in their own neighborhood school.
As a young mother, passionate about making sure her oldest son received a quality education, she enrolled him in private school. However, her son had some delays and troubles with school and as it became unaffordable, Quentessa had to seek out other options. She enrolled him in their neighborhood public school, but he started being bullied. She learned that her son had a learning disability and ADHD. She struggled to get the school to give him the academic supports he needed. She tried to solve the problems, but ultimately made the tough decision to withdraw her son because she knew he didn’t feel safe or supported. Today, her son is in a public Indiana high school and doing very well with his goals to get straight A’s. Though her journey has been challenging, Quentessa has become even more passionate about advocating for her son and his two siblings, as well as all children, in their effort to receive a quality education.
Quentessa’s advice for parents:
“I’ve tried a lot of schools for my babies. Don’t be afraid to make tough choices for your babies. Be informed about your options as a parent and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask tough questions, know what your child is doing and how they are doing. Use your voice and harness your power as a parent to make positive changes.”
Quentessa is a servant at heart with a passion for her community. Having advocated tirelessly for her own children and their education, Quentessa identifies with many of the challenges her fellow community members face each day. She has been a mentor, life coach and workshop facilitator for many ministries and organizations. She has committed much of her life to volunteering and helping individuals take the steps necessary to gain self-sufficiency through employment, education, and mental and spiritual health. We are so pleased to welcome her to the Stand for Children Indiana team.