“I am an Acelero Parent”: Two-Generation Approaches Through A Mother’s Eyes

Tameka Henry | December 11, 2012 | Convenings



 

The following blog is excerpted and condensed from remarks given by Tameka Henry, a parent of children enrolled in Acelero Learning, at the 2012 Aspen ThinkXChange in Aspen, Colorado.  Tameka was nominated to speak at the Aspen ThinkXChange by Ascend Fellow Henry Wilde.

Tameka Henry, left, at the Aspen ThinkXChange

I am an Acelero Learning parent. 

My story started like the story of many Acelero Learning parents. My mother was a single parent.  She worked for about 30 years in Parks and Recreation and then in the Human Resources department with the County off and on. I remember how hard she worked to provide for me.  And I remember that she never spoke about going to college.

So, at the age of 21, I went to work at the District Attorney's office and soon after, I had my first child. Everything was going well until at the age of 8 months, he passed away of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).  It was extremely difficult to go back to work after that.  I battled with depression and I really beat myself over the head about his death. I felt like I should have spent more time with him – but at the time everything was focused on work, work, work, so you can provide and work, work, work, so you can have medical insurance and all the things that a parent wants for their child. But then this child that I am working so hard for is no longer with me.  So it was very difficult for me to pick myself up and start over again.

I was blessed a year and a half after that with my son, Zion.  I had difficulties throughout that pregnancy and despite doctor’s advice I waited it out and my son was born healthy, thank God. But I was afraid to leave him. I was afraid to go to work and I was afraid to go to school.  So Zion was always with me and I just babied him. And when it came time for him to go to kindergarten… he was babied.

When I had my daughters, I just knew it was important to get them in an early childhood education program. At the time, I was just looking for a pre-kindergarten program for my daughter.  I didn't know anything about Head Start.  I didn't know what Acelero Learning had to offer me and my family, and I'm just so thankful that they brought me in.  They helped me set goals.  The staff asked, “What about you?”  It wasn't just about my child. What do you want to do?  And who knows why, but I never thought about that.  I never thought – after everything I had been through, I didn't think about me, but they brought me back into the picture. They taught me that you have to do well in order for your family to do well.

What I was expecting was preschool services for my daughter.  I was expecting her to learn her name and numbers and learn how to behave in a classroom setting. That's what I was expecting. I wasn't expecting them to say, "Well, we have a Policy Council for parents to participate in making decisions about the program," or "We have shared governance where parents are involved with the local governing board, and you'll help set policies for this program."  I wasn't expecting to learn about reading budgets or having to approve funding applications.

I also wasn't expecting to learn about the achievement gap.  And Acelero Learning did a fine job of breaking down the achievement gap to parents and explaining to us, "This is what it is, and this is what you can do to help close it."  They really broke it down: "Okay.  This is the achievement gap, and you can do these four things to help close it" – positive discipline, consistent family routines, reading to your child for 20 minutes, and providing a language-rich environment.  These were all the things that we thought we were doing, but the Acelero Learning staff was very intentional about letting parents know about it. 

My daughter is now currently in the fourth grade and she's reading at a sixth grade reading level. She's been a straight-A student since she left the program.  Acelero Learning made sure that my children were completely prepared for kindergarten.  And they were ready.  After leaving Acelero Learning, they were ready to succeed in kindergarten. 

At Acelero Learning, I've learned to advocate for my children.  I've learned to advocate for other children – and I know I owe that to Acelero Learning for not giving up on me, and not giving up on my family. So now I advocate.  I'm in school now for early childhood education because I know how important it truly is, and I know what it did for my kids.  And I hope to one day do that for other children.

 

Related Posts

I started off the 2022 Aspen Ideas Festival at Aspen Words Book Ball, a passion project of Isa Catto and Daniel Shaw.
Ascend FellowshipJune 25, 2022
This year, the Aspen Idea Festival returns to in-person programming at our campus in the Rocky Mountains June 25 - July 1, 2022.
Ascend FellowshipJune 15, 2022
On Tuesday, June 1st, 2021, Ascend at the Aspen Institute’s Family Prosperity Innovation Community hosted a panel discussion about the recently proposed federal legislation on paid leave. This webinar presented how and why this proposed legislation matters and shared opportunities to advance paid leave locally and nationally. Watch Now https://vimeo.com/557745729 Presenters and Panelists Vicki Shabo …

Webinar: Accelerating Paid Leave for Families Read More »

June 3, 2021
This blog is part of Ascend at the Aspen Institute’s 2Gen Level Up series. Ascend challenged organizations that work with and/or on behalf of children and families to apply one of six resources listed below and level up their two-generational efforts. Of the many organizations from across the country that put these resources to use, Ascend …

PelotonU: Principles for Engaging and Centering Parent Voice Read More »

BlogApril 6, 2021
Back to School Event
Governors, mayors, and families are on the front lines of communities coping with changes in the pandemic world. As the school year begins, the Aspen Institute turns to representatives of these three groups to ask: How can we support students and families in this unprecedented school year? On August 26, Ascend and the Aspen Education …

Virtual Discussion: How Communities and Political Leaders Can Support Schools This Year Read More »

BlogAugust 21, 2020
Physical and mental health and well-being are core components of the two-generation approach that builds family well-being by intentionally and simultaneously working with children and the adults in their lives to move whole families toward educational success, economic security, and health and well-being. Childhood trauma, for instance, has lasting health and social consequences. Similarly, economic …

Transforming Child and Family Mental Health in Washington, DC Read More »

BlogJuly 22, 2020
Aspen
States and communities are where policy translates into real life outcomes. For nearly a decade, state and local entities have leveraged various federal programs and funding streams to integrate systems and services through a 2Gen approach. This powerful momentum is bipartisan, practical, scalable and most importantly, centered around families – their needs, their experiences, and their voices.   The new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, Poverty Reduction: …

Virtual Briefing: Milestone Federal Report Drives 2Gen Momentum Read More »

BlogJuly 9, 2020
The Aspen Postsecondary Success for Parents (PSP) Initiative at Ascend at the Aspen Institute hosted a two-day convening to mark entering its second phase. More than 50 researchers, philanthropists, higher education administrators, policymakers, and student parents gathered at the Aspen Institute office in Washington, D.C. for a strategy session titled, “Postsecondary Completion: What Works for …

Postsecondary Completion: What Works for Parents Read More »

BlogFebruary 12, 2020
Families must be at the center of any and all work to address intergenerational poverty. That’s why our Aspen ThinkXChange 2019, which focused on using a two-generation (2Gen) approach to advance family prosperity, began the way that it did – with more than 240 leaders (parents, practitioners, and policymakers) listening and learning from families. At …

Aspen ThinkXChange 2019: 240 Leaders Convene to Advance Family Prosperity Read More »

BlogOctober 31, 2019
Two-generation (2Gen) convenings have the potential to create change for whole systems and the lives of the families they serve. This planning guide is the first step. Having planned and supported more than 100 2Gen convenings, Ascend has cultivated a depth of knowledge for the practical elements and nuanced factors that result in successful convenings. …

New Toolkit Offers Tips on Designing a 2Gen Convening Read More »

BlogOctober 25, 2019
It was another great day of provocative conversation at ThinkXChange. Here are three of our favorite insights from the breakout group on cash transfers: “Poverty is the absence of cash flow. If you want to solve poverty, give people money. That’s it. We can solve poverty if we want to.” — Anthony Barrows, managing director …

“We can solve poverty if we want to.” Read More »

BlogOctober 17, 2019
Speakers onstage at 2019 Aspen ThinkXChange
The racial wealth gap is well-documented and undisputedly real. The median white family has 41 times more wealth than the median African-American family and 22 times more wealth than the median Latino family. And things are getting worse, not better: The proportion of black families with zero or negative wealth rose by 8.5 percent to …

Real solutions for closing the very real racial wealth gap Read More »

BlogOctober 17, 2019
With family voices at the center, Ascend brought together leaders from across key issues and sectors at the Aspen ThinkXChange 2019: Advancing Family Prosperity on October 15-18 in Aspen, Colorado, to share bold ideas, generate new strategies, and identify critical partnerships to move families toward opportunity in the decade ahead. The convening highlighted inherent strengths of families with …

Aspen ThinkXChange 2019 Round-up: Materials and Videos Read More »

BlogSeptember 25, 2019
At the second Aspen Forum on Children and Families last month we brought together national leaders – policymakers, practitioners, researchers, philanthropists and parents – to surface big ideas for investing in the full potential of children and families, two generations at a time. Centering parents’ and caregivers’ perspectives is vital to Ascend and our work with …

Meeting Parents Where They Dream: Critical Voices and Lived Experiences Read More »

BlogMarch 21, 2019
As state and federal lawmakers prepare for the year ahead, more than 350 practice and community leaders, policymakers, researchers, and philanthropists - including Ascend Fellows, Family Prosperity Innovators, and Ascend Network Partners - joined us at the 2019 Aspen Forum on Children and Families to harness this momentum for investing in the full potential of children and families, two generations at a time.
BlogMarch 13, 2019