Advocating for my Child Led me to Become an Advocate for All Children

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By Yolanda Corbett

I have been a native Washingtonian and a Ward 7 resident my entire life. From my first day attending Beers Elementary School as a child, to sending my oldest son to his first day of middle school at Inspired Teaching PCS, I have seen the complete evolution of our public education system.

My passion for advocacy initially started when my oldest son was diagnosed with autism and my role as a parent in my son's education drastically changed. From that moment, I was on a journey with him to make sure that he was not being excluded from the full classroom experience. No longer was I just the parent bringing my son to and from school and making sure his homework was getting done. I became involved in almost every aspect of his school day, including advocating to make sure that the right resources were being delivered to him and students like him. This experience led me to join the PTO at Arts & Technology Academy PCS, where my son was enrolled at the time, later becoming PTO President.

As the PTO President and sitting in on the Board of Trustees meetings at my son’s school, I learned so much about what actually went into operating a school. I learned about how a school sets their budget, how policies impact the school building, and about each of the stakeholders in a school's administration. I learned so much about my son’s school and the education system, that helping others advocate for their children became infectious. I have always had the spirit of wanting to help other people, and now I finally have the tools to do it. I took on additional leadership roles this year, like becoming the Co-Chair of the Parent Advocate Leaders Group; joining fellow PAVE parent leader Chioma Oruh to found the Inclusive Prosperity Coalition; and becoming a voting member of the DC State Board of Education’s ESSA Task Force alongside PAVE’s Founder and Executive Director, Maya Martin.

Additionally, this month I am very proud to be joining 15 other parent leaders as a Ward 7 PAVE Parent Leaders in Education Board Member. PAVE has helped me build my confidence as a parent leader and has given me opportunities to apply my voice and stand up for children. I am so thankful to be a part of my ward’s PLE Board and work with fellow parent advocates. Together, I hope to build a more inclusive school system and bring the community back into the classroom