Natchez-Adams School District honors parents of the year
NATCHEZ — Paul C. Hargrave doesn’t want anyone to notice when he walks the halls at Robert Lewis Magnet School, sits in on classes and helps out at school functions.
He’s not there for attention; he’s there for his children.
But NASD parents noticed anyway and named Hargrave the RLMS parent of the year.
He went on to earn the title of Natchez-Adams School District parent of the year, too.
Hargrave’s 14-year-old twins — Paul C. Hargrave Jr. and Kayla Hargrave — are in eighth grade at RLMS.
Although Hargrave said it was an honor to be named district parent of the year, he didn’t expect the recognition because he likes to perform his duties a parent quietly.
“It’s a privilege; it’s a big high,” said Hargrave, who is a consultant in real estate investing. “I kind of like to stay under the radar, but I just like to get things done.”
Hargrave said his involvement at the school means simply being present and active.
“Periodically, I would call the teachers,” Hargrave said. “If I don’t get a chance to see them, I’ll call them, or they will call me. They have access to me 24/7.
“If I can help a kid that’s in need of something, or if the school is in need — I will do what I can.”
Hargrave has two older children also. Both attended public schools in the school district. Shareka Hargrave is now a teacher at Natchez High School, and Kimberly Hargrave is a student at University of Louisiana Monroe.
For Paul Hargrave, it’s getting the job done that counts.
“It’s a joy watching them all grow up,” he said. “It’s great to be able to watch them grow up to become productive citizens that we parents intended to be.”
But he doesn’t do it alone, Paul said. Hargrave’s wife, Jacqueline F. Hargrave, works with Paul and Kayla to assure their homework is completed. Parenting is a team effort, he said.
“I’m willing to do whatever I can to help all of our boys and girls,” he said. “As parent and active community member, I understand that the challenges the students in Natchez-Adams School District face cannot be solved by educators alone.
“It takes the cohesive and collaborative efforts between school, home and the community to address some of our challenges.”
Each school in the district also named a parent of the year. They were:
McLaurin Elementary — Shounda Ferguson
Ferguson’s children, Javion, 11, and Omari, 6, are in the fifth grade and kindergarten respectively. But Ferguson assures that her children are getting the required education they need at home first, she said.
“Homework comes first, and if they need any assistance I’m there to help,” said Ferguson, who is the student support service secretary at Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Natchez. “I’m a concrete learner, so I will show them step-by-step to make sure they get it.”
Ferguson said parents who are not involved with their children or the school district should understand the importance of education.
“When you are involved you become more aware,” she said. “You learn what you can do to help not only your child, but other children also. You have to be a part of it all — academically and socially.”
West Elementary — Liz Blalock
Blalock, the mother of five children who is expecting her sixth, is a licensed teacher herself.
“Education is very important to me,” she said. “I’ve been very involved in the schools since my oldest son was in kindergarten.”
Blalock’s oldest son, Timothy, 10, is in the fifth grade and attends West with Adara, 9, who is in the third grade and Tristan, 6, who is in the first grade.
Blalock also has a child who attends McLaurin Elementary, Theron, 4, who is in pre-k-4.
Her fifth child, Adeline, 1, stays at home with Blalock.
“I’m volunteering in the library; I’m volunteering in the classroom,” she said. “So I’m very involved all of the time. I feel it’s important for the kids to see me in the schools because then my children know how important the schools are to me — how important education is to me.”
If education is important to the parent, then it will be important to the child, Blalock said.
Natchez High School — Jerry Ford
Ford, a Natchez Police Department detective, spends a lot of his time ensuring the safety of Natchez residents, but he spends just as much time ensuring that his daughter, Kiana, 18, who is a senior at Natchez High School, adapts to school and working to earn money for college.
“Before I allowed Kiana to (get a job) I wanted to make sure her grades were up to par,” Ford said. “She’s actually exceeding above my expectations and as long as the work wasn’t interfering with her academic progress, then I had no problem with her working.”
Ford said he makes it a point to check in with faculty members at Natchez High School to keep up with his daughter.
However, it’s Ford’s police background that motivates him most to be active in the schools.
“I’m trying to encourage them to do the right thing,” he said. “I stress to them the importance of getting a quality education so they can succeed at life.”
Part of being a good police officer, Ford said, means caring about those in the community — especially the young people.
“If you don’t, you’re in the wrong line of work,” Ford said. “It’s not all about putting a person in jail but to talk to people and help them to realize what’s beneficial to them.”
Ford has five children, Kiana is the youngest.
Natchez Early College Academy — Shavelle Woods
Woods does not have a difficult time connecting with her son, Chadrick Woods, who is a freshman at Natchez Early College Academy.
Woods, who was named parent of the year at Natchez Early College Academy, is the librarian assistant at the school and Natchez High School.
“I get to have a hands-on experiences with Chadrick,” Woods said.
When at home, Woods helps Chadrick by sitting across the living room from him — doing her own homework.
Woods is taking classes through the University of Phoenix, working toward a degree in business administration with a concentration in human resources.
“I tell my son that ‘mommy is a single parent,’” she said. “If I get my lesson, he can too. We both work together.”
Woods also volunteers her services at the school.
“Whenever I’m called on, I’m there,” Woods said. “It’s not just because of Chadrick, but because of all of the kids at the school.”
Morgantown Leadership Academy — Jennifer Isaac
Isaac said it was an honor to be named parent of the year.
“It’s an honor for any parent to receive an award,” Isaac said. “Especially for recognition for doing a great job as a parent because you do things every day. A mother doesn’t see it as nothing special because it’s their responsibility. So it’s good that people recognized that you do things with your children, or for other children.”
Isaac has a set of twins in the school district — Malik and Malcolm Isaac, 13.
Malik attends the leadership academy while Malcolm Isaac attends the arts academy.
But Isaac said she finds time for them both thanks to a flexible schedule at her job as an accountant at AJFC Community Action Agency, Inc.
“It’s a blessing to have the job that I have, because if I need to get off to go participate in something with my children at the school, my job allows me that opportunity to go and be with them,” Isaac said. “When you have the opportunity to do something with your children, try your best to do it.”
Isaac said it’s a challenge to balance being a single parent and work. But because of her parents and family, her children never go without seeing a face at school.
“I even have family in the school district that if something is going on, I’ll call and ask them if they can take care of it for me,” Isaac said. “I wish that all parents will push to visit their children. If you can’t make it, send someone else.”
Other parents of the year who could not be reached for comment were:
• Frazier Elementary: Troylynn Thomas
• Natchez Freshman Academy: Tanya Woods
• Fallin Career and Technology Center: Vanessa Turner