Ryemarkable Michelle Eaton!

Updated: Feb 20

Tell us a little bit about you and your family:


I am originally from New York City and moved to Georgia for about 10 years. Eventually returned to New York and moved to Rye about 5 years ago. I have 2 children-daughter who attends Rye Middle School and an older son. I work for a NYC educational nonprofit- Advocates for Children. Our agency's primary mission is to work on behalf of students who are at greatest risk for school-based discrimination and/or academic failure which can include students with disabilities, English Language Learners, those who are homeless and/or are involved in the juvenile justice or foster care systems.

How has your work changed through the pandemic?


The pandemic has only continued to show inequities within the educational system. Our families have really struggled to meet basic needs while adjusting to remote learning. Lack of access to computers and wifi, language barriers and just learning how to help their children with technology has been very difficult for our families. Assisting clients is now primarily virtual which has been an adjustment--I miss the more personal interactions with families.

You are a member of the RCSD Inclusivity and Community Task Force. What prompted you to get involved?


Quite frankly, my daughter who is African-American, has not had the easiest adjustment in finding her way at RMS. We have honest discussions about race as a family and she has asked difficult questions about why we moved here. Her elementary school in NYC was very diverse--something that I took for granted especially in terms of the impact on my daughter's self-esteem. While the academics of the Rye school district are excellent, lack of diversity can be difficult for families of color both in terms of socializing and just feeling comfortable trying to meet others. I am hoping that my participation in the Task Force will lead to more open discussions on addressing the needs of families and students of color within the school district.


Are there personal lessons you are taking from your involvement in the Task Force?


To remain open minded in learning about different perspectives on race & inclusivity. I also look forward to seeing the implementation of various goals from the subcommittees especially around student support, community education and continual development of the school district's curriculum.


Anything else you'd like to share?


Be willing to have discussions with kids about race-age appropriate of course. Sometimes the discussions can be difficult but it is important to let kids know you are open as a parent to hearing their questions and concerns. Exposure to diverse cultures is important too-avoid living in a "bubble."


Check out Advocates For Children at www.advocatesforchildren.org!