Making Family Voices Heard at Noble

My name is Miquel Lewis. I am a Noble Network of Charter Schools parent and the Vice Chair of Noble’s Board. This is my second year on Noble’s Board and my first year as the Vice Chair. A few years ago, the network made a big commitment to increasing family and community voice on its Board. Now, I am one of two parents who are on the board, and we aim to champion parent concerns at each meeting.

I’m writing this blog to share a bit more about my experience navigating Chicago’s public school system as a parent. My hope is that other parents will see aspects of their story in mine, and will decide to take on leadership opportunities in their schools.

In my family’s experience, calling the high school transition process in Chicago a challenge would be an understatement. My daughter transitioned to high school right before the release of GoCPS, and our journey felt nearly impossible. We missed some deadlines. We didn’t even know about other deadlines. It was a mess! It was especially hard to find the right entrypoint for the schools that she was eligible for. She wanted to attend a selective enrollment school, one that would put her on a solid path to college. But she didn’t qualify for those schools.

Our saving grace came from a colleague of mine whose children attended the Noble schools at the time. He encouraged me to take a look at UIC College Prep, which is a Noble school within walking distance of my work that has a reputation for its rigorous academics – both things that I found to be ideal. I contacted the school, but was placed on the waitlist. I was close to panicking – it was almost the end of summer! Fortunately, the staff member that I spoke with suggested that I look into Pritzker College Prep, another Noble campus known for its strong academics. My wife and I did our research. We found out that Pritkzer, along with its rigorous academic curriculum, also had a diverse student body, something that we value in our family. The best part was that they had a place for my daughter. Even though the school is located nearly thirty miles from our home, we accepted this position immediately. Nothing was going to get in the way of my daughter receiving an excellent education.

Our experience was truly a blessing. She was supported as a student and we were supported as a family from day one. Now, she’s in college and she is thriving, thanks to the foundation that Noble gave her. She is a sophomore at Spelman College, pursuing degrees in psychology and journalism. She loves it there. She has friends from across the country. Most times when she calls home, she talks about how challenging college life is for her peers, especially managing their coursework. But my daughter never feels like she has to do anything on her own. She has the Noble network behind her to support her whenever she needs it.

I loved what Noble did for my family and I wanted to give back. I felt that, at Noble, my voice as a parent was really listened to, so I wanted to voice it even louder. I inquired about the Noble board positions open for parents and family members and was accepted. I’m currently the Vice Chair of Noble’s Board. This is an exciting time to be a part of the board, where my role is to be a voice and champion for parents. We have new leadership and it’s truly dynamic. Noble’s new CEO, Constance Jones, has strong relationships with all team members. Jennifer is our new Board Chair. Together, we are working on a new strategic plan and my role is to support all of the parent goals and their involvement at schools.

The last few years have been filled with ups and downs. We are so grateful that we found Noble. Not only has it set up my daughter for success beyond high school, but it’s also changed our family and the way we view education.