Dear Barbara Sizemore,
My name is Imani Kirlew. Since my last name Kirlew, seems difficult for my friends to pronounce they call me Kurly Fries. I am 11 years old and in the sixth grade at Wheeler Avenue Elementary. My school goes from first graders to sixth grade. So the sixth graders are supposed to be an influence on the little ones. In school there is only one subject I love and it is math. Math to me is really fun and easy. I have been in the R.I.C.H Program for 2 years and it was a great experience, and with that great experience I learned four important principles. I learned I matter which means to believe in yourself, I am responsible for my behavior which means to have responsibility in my action, I am considerate of my classmates and others which means to help not only your friends and family but the people around you, last but not least the principle I use thinking strategies for school and life success which means to use what you learned in life and in school. This program helped me improve my grades and social life. Also, the program helped me gain a sense of responsibility and confidence in myself.
Barbara Sizemore I chose you for my NVLP project because I was inspired by your life. You were the first African American woman to head a public school system in a major city. Let’s start from the beginning. You were born on December17, 1927 in Chicago, Illinois to Sylvester and Delila Lafoon and have six siblings. At the age of eight, your father died in a terrible car accident and your mother remarried another man. After your mother remarried, your family moved to Evanston. When you were in both elementary and middle school, your schools were segregated, but you still got the best education ever. Since there weren’t any child abuse laws, you would have gotten beaten with a whip by your mother or teachers if you did something wrong in school or at home.
In 1944, you enrolled in Northwestern University and graduated with a degree in classical language in 1947. As you got older you became a teacher in Chicago’s public schools. In 1954, you earned an M.A. in elementary education from Northwestern. You stopped teaching in 1963 to become the first black female to be appointed principal of a Chicago school. In 1965, you became principal of Forestville High School and initiated efforts to turn the school from a bad place with boys in gangs and smokers into a great educated high school.
Since you did a great job educating many students, you were elected superintendent for the District of Columbia Public School System. That was the first time an African-American has been elected as superintendent in a school system in a major U.S city. Your educational views challenged many people, and with that challenge you had to face a hard time. You were fired in 1975.After that tragic incident you wrote a book called “The Ruptured Diamond” that explained everything that happened in Washington at the school and in your life. After you moved out of Washington you started teaching at University of Pittsburgh and worked with African American children.
In 1992, you assumed a professorship at DePaul University in Chicago. As the dean of School of Education, you created the School Achievement Structure program. That program started to spread around the country then around the world. The program was a very successful program to many people. As your journey ended you advised the Chicago public school system and kept on speaking and writing on many things. Barbara Sizemore, you died on June of 2004 and was a mother of six children and seven grandchildren.
As I said in the beginning of the essay, I learned four R.I.C.H principles that helps in everyday life and they are I matter, I am responsible for my behavior, I will be considerate for my classmates and others, and last but not least I use thinking strategies for school and life success. These principles helped me in life and the one that helped me the most is I matter. I matter helped me gain confidence and believe in myself. It also helped me to speak up and ignore people who bother me or who just don’t like me for some reason. But most importantly I matter helped me gain confidence in myself. Before I came into the RICH Program I was afraid of my own shadow; I wouldn’t even say hi. Even in the beginning of the first year in the R.I.C.H program I never said a word to anyone, but now I’m not afraid of my shadow. I can say, hello without regretting it. I stand up for myself and stand up for my friends as well. I will always believe that I MATTER. That is why I Matter is my favorite R.I.C.H principle.
Mrs. Barbara Sizemore in your life you used an R.I.C.H principle that helped you in your life. That principle is I Matter. I matter helped you believe in yourself and overcome what other people said to you. For example, you were fired on job that helped many students stop being a bunch of rude people into successful people. After you got fired you didn’t care at all. You went on looking for a job that suits you. You believed in yourself on finding a new job that no one will fire you from. Also, when you were in the public school system many people talked about you because you were black, but you didn’t care at all you ignored them and knew that you mattered.
Mrs. Barbara Sizemore, thank you for inspiring me. You inspired me by believing in yourself and not giving up on anything. What you did inspired many people including me. You taught me to never give up in what I want to do. You are an amazing strong woman that stands up for yourself.
May 18, 2013