‘You make things happen for your children’
Real estate broker Jamila Lindsay understands the power of investment. In fact, she began her career as an underwriter, so forecasting the potential return on an investment just might be second nature. Not surprisingly, she brings a similar perspective to education. Parental investment, she believes, positions a child and school for long-term success.
Jamila has found a philosophical home at Lake Norman Charter School (LNC) in Huntersville. Her son, Bryce—who loves books, baseball, and band—is a 6th grader there. Jamila is often on campus, too. The president of LNC’s Middle School PTO (Parent Teacher Organization), she has volunteered extensively in her six years as a school parent, starting with LNC’s lunch program.
Clearly, parents are valued partners at LNC; the school was founded 25 years ago by a group of parents. LNC remains anchored to its origins today. The school promotes involvement through an ongoing Serve 10 program, encouraging parents to volunteer 10 hours annually.
Helping with school lunch may seem trifling against the broader backdrop of a child’s K-12 education. But Jamila believes it reinforces a powerful message. “As far as the investment, it matters to Bryce. I think it always has,” she says. “He sees that if it’s important to me, it’s going to be important to him. I have to continue investing in his education, so he can continue to know that matters in our home.”
‘I wanted to go to a school where parents were engaged’
Jamila’s belief in parental investment, while instinctive to her, was not widely shared at her son’s first school. Bryce began kindergarten in the Charlotte Mecklenburg School System. While his elementary school was walkable—the embodiment of a neighborhood school—it lacked community cohesion.
“It was only kindergarten, but I just knew that was not the route,” Jamila says. As the classroom mom and PTA member, she had difficulty drumming up parental interest. That didn’t feel right. “I wanted to go to a school where parents were engaged and helping to support the staff,” she adds.
So, she and her husband, Taswell, began looking earnestly at charter and private school options. “I was on a mission for about 6 months,” she says. She applied for first grade at several schools, including LNC. Bryce was waitlisted. Two weeks before school started, they got the call. He had gotten in.
Community—and teachers that ‘speak the love language of your child’
This time around, things felt different. Other parents were highly invested, creating a school community that felt like family—and watched over kids. “It definitely makes you more connected to each other,” Jamila says. “Our group of friends knows that if I see their child and something is going on, we’re going to find out!”
Bryce has flourished amid the attention. “This year, he and his novels are taking off,” Jamila says. “I am loving his English Language Arts teacher. She knows him. She knows him from the books he reads; she knows his personality. She knows what makes him tick, how to get him motivated.”
“That’s a difference, too,” she adds—”the quality of teachers that can home in and speak the love language of your child.”
As she invests in her son’s education and school, Jamila is working to reframe discussions with friends about charters. A recent gathering offered an opportunity, she says. “The conversation was, ‘Well, charter school is not an option for people who can’t provide transportation or pack a lunch every day.’”
“My rebuttal to that is, ‘It could be. You make things happen for your children. We carpool. There are ways to make it work,’” she says. “We find a way.”