When students and parents arrived at the Lincoln High School Communications and Humanities Magnet on Monday morning, they were greeted by doctors, lawyers, judges, counselors, engineers and entrepreneurs.
The wide range of Dallas professionals welcomed students at the request of Lincoln’s Head Girls Basketball Coach Carlesa Dixon, a Lincoln alumni turned teacher. Dixon organized the event via Facebook in an effort to involve alumni in welcoming students back to school. Her inspiration came from seeing a picture of 100 men greet students at an all-boys school in Maryland.
“I looked at that picture and just thought that those young men were so inspired by that simple greeting,” Dixon said. “Having our students walk through the door at Lincoln and hear simple words of encouragement from a professional, who doesn’t even personally know them, could have such an everlasting impact on their lives.”
Christopher Lewis, a member of the National Society of Black Engineers who works as an electrical engineer for Nokia Networks in Las Colinas, was among the group of professionals at Lincoln. Lewis, who attended Whitney M. Young, Maynard Jackson, O.W. Holmes and Skyline High School, saw the opportunity to welcome students back to school as a chance to reach students like himself.
“Being a former (Dallas) ISD student and growing up in a very similar environment as some of the students at Lincoln, I know the effect of someone genuinely coming to support your education growth in any possible way,” he said. “When a student can see someone that looks like them who has accomplished the goals these students aspire to achieve, it resonates deeply and encourages them to continue on their respective achievement paths.”
Shawn Scott, the Chief Technology Officer at VenueCenter.com, is an alum of Charles Rice Elementary School, Alex W. Spence Middle School and a W.W. Samuell High School. He said the event showed students that the community is there to support them.
“It’s our job as the community to embrace students in our local schools,” he said. “Teachers and administrators are often at their limits with that they can contribute and there is still much that needs to be done. This is where the community needs to step in and help fill the gaps that still exist at the end of the day.”
While Lewis and Scott’s motivation to participate in the “welcome back” event at Lincoln was due largely in part to their experiences as students in Dallas ISD, Amber Sims’ desire to participate came from her involvement with Reimagine Fair Park. Sims, vice president for strategic partnerships at Literacy Instruction for Texas, said she hopes the event will help students understand that “education is about community.”
“The most valuable thing we can provide for our students is hope, encouragement and our time,” she said. “What I really hope is that young professionals will continue to volunteer because our students need us on the first day of school and beyond. This area in South Dallas needs our commitment and I am committed to that year-round.”