Hearts Touched with Fire

Written By Natasha Trivers, CEO of Democracy Prep Public Schools

While bidding adieu to the summer is always bittersweet, we greet the fall with renewed energy, greater focus, and a determined mindset. The school year has officially begun in all of our regions and it feels incredible to get back into the swing of things, where scholars are in the classroom and eager to learn.

As we prepared for the 22-23 school year, we took the time to reflect on the past year, understand what we do best, and center ourselves in our “why”. My why is that I love to work shoulder to shoulder with people who believe in providing every single child, regardless of circumstance or zip code, with a high quality education. I enter this new chapter of Democracy Prep, with this quote in mind:

“Through our great good fortune, in our youth, our hearts were touched with fire. It was given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate thing.”
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Former Associate Supreme Court Justice of the United States

When I came across this quote, I could not help but recognize that this is a fitting way to describe what a Democracy Prep education does for our scholars. At our best, we nurture in our students a great passion for learning, a deep commitment to do their civic duty, and the power to make this world a better place.

I remember during my first year teaching in Providence, RI, I taught a group of 9th graders who were 3-4 grade levels behind, in terms of their literacy skills. Towards the end of our unit on Richard Wright’s Native Son, one of my students, Francisco, said, “I never liked English class before this. My teachers would give me these baby books and tell me I should love reading but I hated it.” Francisco loved Wright’s Native Son. It moved him to reflect upon how Cape Verdeans were treated in Providence in the early 2000s, the legacy of slavery in this country, the inequities that have persisted for centuries, and how the legal system often perpetuates these inequities. In our mock trial related to Native Son, Francisco assumed the role of lead prosecutor and approached this project with incredible passion. He stayed late into the evening for weeks, got multiple sets of eyes on his opening statement, and maniacally prepared his witnesses for cross examination. He came alive that year. He wouldn’t have necessarily characterized it this way, but as his teacher, I saw his heart was touched with fire. There was no stopping him. He went on to attend the University of Rhode Island three short years later and became a teacher himself. I know that today he is inspiring his students and igniting that fire that exists within every child that enters his classroom. 

Every day is an opportunity to ensure our scholars’ hearts are touched with fire. Whether you are an educator, an alumnus, a board member, a community partner, a funder, or a friend of Democracy Prep, you are supporting our radical stance to change the face of public education in America and ensure our young people’s hearts are touched with fire!

I look at all of the phenomenal work we have done and continue to do and I am proud, not only of our scholars, but of every person who played a role in our scholars’ education. These accomplishments are a culmination of all of our work and a testament to our passion in ensuring that our scholars receive the best possible education at Democracy Prep. From their very first day of (pre)kindergarten to their high school graduation, so many of us have touched a scholar’s life.

We believe in the transformative power of a great education and we believe in our democracy. Our hearts are touched with fire and we take each day as an opportunity to pass the torch to our young people, so that they may unlock their brilliance, brighten their future, and enrich the world around them. 

We thank you for being a supportive member of our community and watching Democracy Prep as we grow and evolve into the best version of ourselves. While we may not know exactly what lies ahead, we know that the future is bright with you at our side. 

Cheers to the beginning of a new school year and a future full of brilliance!

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