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Virginia Marshall

Everybody wants to give and everyone wants to belong. We just have to teach it.

Traditionally, the teacher was the role model, the person who was looked up to. They were often the most respected and educated person in the neighborhood. If you needed some help with a paper you’d say, “Let’s go to Mrs. Jones because Mrs. Jones knows how to do this.”

But we don’t have the teachers living in the community as we once did. Urban renewal wiped out our beloved community. We had it, but we lost it. Everybody needs a home. Many of our young professionals move out because they can’t afford to live in San Francisco. They spend hours driving in and out the city every day from places like Antioch, Pittsburg, Pinole and Hercules

Our students have experiences that students on the other side of town don’t have... they just see it on TV. They think it’s not real, but it is. When you have a whole cluster of sixth graders, many of which have social needs and academic needs, what do you do? Teachers in our communities are more then just principals, teachers, and afterschool supervisors. This is what we do:

We help students and their parents access all the services they need. We make sure the kids get scholarships. We take the kids on college tours. If someone gets sick, we make sure they get the medical care they need. If someone is shot, we go to the funeral and support the family of the child who gets buried. Sometimes our kids make mistakes and get arrested. So we go to the Youth Guidance Center. Our day is not 8 to 3. Our day is pretty much 24/7. We help students accomplish whatever they need to get done so they can become productive citizens.

Our goal is simple: it’s to make education the number one priority in our community. Every school should be a great school. Why is that? We’re teaching future leaders. Who’s going to take care of us? We got to think about that. Who’s going to run the country? Who’s going to run this city? When I get sick I want a great doctor not a good doctor. So we need to make sure that every school has the resources they need. A school can’t have all brand new teachers. It needs to have some experienced teachers too.

Virginia Marshall
Vice President of the San Francisco Alliance of Black Education