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Pleasant Grove is my neighborhood

I’m a working mother of two boys—one who is of elementary age, the other already a grownup. I’ve raised my older son, and I’m raising my son in Southeast Dallas, in the community which is known as Pleasant Grove. This corner of Dallas—my corner of the world—feels like home. My son attends Henry B. Gonzalez Personalized Learning Academy, our neighborhood school. I’m also a Dallas ISD team member, who lives, shops, dines, and volunteers in my community because I’m intentional about supporting it..

As a district team member, I believe in public education. I made a decision early on, that my children would attend public schools, and that we would work as a family to find that sense of community in our schools. My father was a public school teacher and always taught me the value of public education. I didn’t grow up in Dallas, but I’ve lived here longer than I have anywhere else. I’m proud to live in Southeast Dallas, the home of many hard-working families whose children attend neighborhood public schools that are gems in our community.

You may hear a lot about Pleasant Grove, not always wonderful things, but those things don’t define us. I can assure you that there are many people who put the “pleasant” in Pleasant Grove. It is my favorite part of the city. We have the Trinity Forest and a public horse park practically in my backyard. On Lake June, across from the Pleasant Grove Branch Library, we have the largest outdoor mural gallery in the country. There are many hidden treasures in our community that should be celebrated, and our schools are no exception.

There’s a sense of connection and synergy that I’ve seen in recent years. It’s an exciting time in our schools and in our community. There are leaders and volunteers, everyday people, who are working collaboratively to advocate for this area that has been historically economically disadvantaged. I see much of this good energy in the schools, as there are active Parent Teacher Associations and different educational and extracurricular enrichment options for students. With many new opportunities available in our neighborhood schools, I see more and more community members sending their children to schools in their own neighborhoods.

From the moment I step out the door, I see a community that works together. I see parents walk their kids to school every morning, and they are greeted by volunteers, teachers or community members who work as crossing guards. There’s a sense of empathy, unity and a community that cares.

I feel good knowing that my child is attending a Dallas ISD school, where he feels nurtured, seen, heard, and where team members work with him and other students to help them be the best scholars they can be. As a parent, I genuinely feel that the district is playing an important role in fostering a happy, healthy, and future leader, whether his role in the world is big or small. They make me feel like my child is significant, like every child is significant. He loves art and choir and is an avid reader who loves numbers. He expresses his feelings and says things like, “Mom, that makes me happy,” or “Mom, that frustrates me,” and tells me why. His school is working with me to raise not only a smart, active child, but an emotionally intelligent child.

A friend, who is a small business owner in the community and who grew up in Mexico, says the language of her heart is Spanish. She would tell me about her dreams of her son being the first in his family to go to college. He attended schools in our neighborhood, and when it was time to attend high school, he and his mom chose W.W. Samuell High School because of the Early College option. It was his mother’s biggest, boldest dream for her son to graduate with his associate degree and attend college. Her dream came true. Her son graduated with a two-year degree and is currently attending a local university. His mother recently told me that the years of sacrifice, the blood, sweat and tears were well worth the effort.

This is what my community is made of—hard-working families that want the best for their children, and they’ve found it in our Dallas ISD schools, where there is something for every child. My community is changing the narrative of what Pleasant Grove used to be known as. These leaders—from administrators, teachers, cafeteria workers, custodians, to students—are making history and changing the future.

Seeing things from the lens of a parent, at Gonzalez PL Academy, I found exactly what I always wanted for my child. I’m thankful that I can find it a couple of blocks from my home. I don’t just see this in my son’s school but in all of the schools in my community. It is fitting to see the names of history makers like Sylvia Mendez and Henry B. Gonzalez in our neighborhood schools where future history makers are growing up today. When my son says he is a senator (the school’s mascot), I think to myself that maybe someday he will be one in the U.S. Congress. Whether the kids that we are growing up in our neighborhood schools will become senators or not, they are the ones who will lead us into the future and they are learning how to lead in their neighborhoods.

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