Opinion: Hillcrest High School prepares students for success

Raising six children as a single parent in South Memphis has had its challenges but with God’s help I have beat the odds. The one thing I have always wanted for each of my six children was a great education and a college degree. Javonte is the baby of the family and will be the last to graduate high school—and I’m proud to say the last to go off to college this fall at the University of Northern Colorado.

From the moment I walked into Hillcrest High School, a Green Dot Public School here in Memphis, I knew this was the right fit for Javonte. We were invited to an open house to learn more about the school. Immediately, we were greeted by teachers who wanted to know everything about my son and his future. What was he passionate about? What were my hopes for his future? What were his hopes for his future? Did he want to play football? Has he thought about college yet? These teachers didn’t simply look at the fact that he was a 6’6 athlete. They cared more about his ability to succeed. They wanted to get to know who he was and what he wanted. Like me, they were not concerned that he played football. They wanted to make sure he was focused on getting the best education and preparation for life.

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That day began our journey to greatness. The teachers and administrators have really pushed Javonte. Too often, it feels like most adults find it easy to assume a student’s potential or define him by the opportunities he had or didn’t have growing up. But that’s not how Hillcrest operates. They are always supportive. For example, when Javonte dislocated his shoulder during football season, teachers and school leaders constantly checked on him, making sure he kept up with all of his work and didn’t fall behind. In truth, I wish every high school in Memphis operated like Hillcrest because our kids need incredible teachers to help them grow into the leaders of the future. 

You see, the Hillcrest teachers and leadership team believe in the power of good public education, and know that by working hard for every child, they can help put them on the road to college. They look out for their students because they want every last one of them to turn their ambitions into reality.

Throughout Javonte’s experience at Hillcrest, I felt like I had a team of teachers, mentors, and fellow caretakers working with me to ensure that he got every opportunity he deserves. They always informed me of his progress or where he might need some extra help, and they were always available to answer my questions and discuss his development as a student—and as a young man. I wasn’t the only one helping him with his homework, or looking out for his well-being—his teachers were, too.

Over the past four years, his teachers cared for him the way I cared. And although that was special for me, that’s just how it goes at Hillcrest. My son is officially bound for University of Northern Colorado on a football scholarship. I cannot wait to watch him walk across stage at his graduation ceremony and see what he achieves in college.

This is Javonte’s senior year and I have seen so much growth from him. He has taken responsibility of his grades and when he saw that having a job was interfering with keeping up at school, he made the decision to stop working.

No matter what he decides to do, I know that he has the tools he needs to succeed in life. He has the education, the drive, and more importantly, he has a family at home and at Hillcrest High School who will never stop believing in his potential. I am thankful for the teachers and staff at Hillcrest for all the ways they have supported my son on his road to college. I’m a proud and grateful mom.

Written by Karen Garrett and submitted on April 23 by Mackenzie Long of Rally.

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