Shanieka, mother of 1 (PS 217 Colonel David Marcus School)

“My son has ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and autism, so partnering with the school, being a parent advocate so he can thrive—academically, socially, emotionally, whatever other “-ly” there may be—is important to me. A quality education is about learning core concepts, principles, subject matter, and meeting the students where they are.”

“My son is in an ICT (integrated co-teaching) class and there is something positive about putting children with autism in a class with neurotypical students. He can see how they move, how they behave, and those students can learn compassion and kindness and empathy.”

“My greatest struggle has been reeducating myself, being able to step back and process how he’s learning and putting supports in place to help him, especially now (during quarantine), where I’m also the teacher, the lunch lady, the therapist and everything else.”

“The quarantine is also an opportunity. I can see how he’d function in the classroom. I can see in areas of writing where he may need more graphic organizers and, for math, he needs to show his work more.”

“When my son was young I constantly read to him. We are building a library collection at home. Today, it’s mostly graphic novels, but books of any kind are essential. Not everyone is a fan of Dog Man/Captain Underpants but he’s still reading. For me, having a love of reading and writing has informed his love of reading and writing. I am an only child, and I got lost in writing my own little stories, and reading for pleasure. In my freshman year of high school reading gave me a feeling of freedom. I got into African American fiction. In college, reading Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, contributed to my development.”

“I went to Catholic school for elementary, middle and high school. These were predominately African American schools. I was in the honors classes and could take courses at college while I was a senior in high school. Every summer I was in an academic camp that was fun but also reinforced what I learned during the school year.”

“I’ve become a very big supporter of public education. It should be free and also top quality. Everyone should teach and approach students the way they learn best, whether it’s graphic organizers or a video companion to a book, or reading a graphic novel version of Shakespeare.”

“The key is understanding where the kid is at.”

Parents of New York is an occasional post sharing the stories, ideas and perspectives of parents or caregivers with children in the New York City public schools. It is inspired by the popular Humans of New York website and book but is not connected to it. If you are interested in being interviewed email us at and put "Parents of NY" in the subject line.

(Edited from a longer interview by Lydie Raschka)