Who Do You Work For?

6 Dec

Who do you work for?

you better work

This was a question posed to me, and a hundred or so other people, at a work-related conference. A motivational speaker was giving us the business.  Loudly.

We all looked around thinking – well, we work for this company that’s hosting the conference.  It’s way too early to have questions like this.

And then he laid it down.

I don’t remember the exact words he said, but the message was clear:  you work for what’s most important and sacred to you.

You work so that you can support your family.  You work to put food on the table, a roof over your head and a bed for your loved ones to curl up on.  You work to educate your children. You work to provide a life that is full of opportunities.

You work for what you love the most.

You work for your family.


Like many people, I am a divorced parent.

I work hard so I can take care of my child.

I live on a budget.  Everyone does.  I don’t have a lot of free time and when I do, I’m fairly exhausted.

Why do I do this? Why do I work so hard?

For my daughter. That’s who I work for.


science fair


I live in a neighborhood that has an outstanding public school, Miami Shores Elementary School.  An A-rated school, with a rock star Principal (Brenda Swain) and her subsequent rock star team of teachers, administrators, security guards, and more.

There are 800+ kids at this school and 9 out of ten employees of the school that I speak to know my daughter by name.  They know she belongs to me.  They know who her best friend is. They know if she’s having an off day.  They know us.

And there are hundreds of families that will attest to the same.

That is remarkable to me.

We selected this school because of their highly esteemed gifted program.  We have a kid who needs to be challenged intellectually.  If she’s bored, she’s a train wreck.

In kindergarten, Zoe reached a point where she needed more.  She was at a lovely, local, private school.  There were 9 kids in her class or so.  Zoe was working ahead because her teacher realized she needed more stimulation.

We started evaluating our options:  two good but expensive private schools , one Catholic school one Presbyterian school, and the public elementary school.

I went to private school my entire life. My mother was a teacher at the same school I attended. That’s how I got that ride.

Could I swallow $25,000 to $30,000 a year?  If I had to I could make it work.  The facilities were great, but were the academics?  Was the school diverse? Would my kid be the poorest kid in the school?  Zoe would fit in, but would I be able to deal? Would the school challenge her intellectually?

I went to Catholic school for a bit, as a non-religious person. It baffled me.  I still don’t understand it, but appreciate that it is very important and satisfying for other families. It’s really not for our family although we have many friends who attend these schools and we love them.

What about the neighborhood school?  My dear friend and former teacher, Diana Venturini, works for the Dade County Public Schools and she graciously guided me over lunch, a few years ago. She suggested the neighborhood school was the way to go. Local community, great offerings, just down the street — there was a long list of pro’s.

We enrolled and applied for the gifted program. Zoe was accepted and started in first grade.

Her experience at Miami Shores Elementary has been outstanding.  In three years, I had one call to the Principal about Zoe’s PE class. One call – three years.

We should all be so lucky.

girls library


So when it came time to do my part with MSE, I stood up and offered my services.  I’m a paid member of the Parent Teacher Association.  I’ve sold tickets to the play; had the sound system repaired; provided paper and school supplies when the budget has run out.  I’ve banded with other parents to support the teachers and PTA. I’m present (and sometimes working) school events, district meetings and more.

Well they need me again, and they need you too.

The school lost its Title 1 Funding for this year and next.  In a nutshell, that means that they did not have enough children/families qualify for free or reduced lunch.

Officially speaking – Title I Programs administer in excess of $500 million in federal funds to school districts and agencies in Florida for high quality supplemental instruction and support services for educationally disadvantaged children.

Our school lost about $150,000 in funding. The biggest loss:  Two teachers; a security guard was reduced to part time; there is no funding for FCAT tutoring (don’t get me started on these standardized tests) and most importantly, the school lost the funding for the Accelerated Reading Program.

come back

We need it back.

The school is actually required to offer the Accelerated Reading Program although the standard budget does not account for it.

The program costs roughly $5500 and it must be paid by January 15, 2014.


Instead of the usual fundraising tactics like bake sales (that’s a lot of cupcakes), and car washes, the PTA is moving forward with a direct donation campaign.

I know it’s the end of the year, and people are stretched for cash.

I get that – remember, single mom, etc.

If you work for a company that will match your donation or would consider donating on their own, please let me know. I will call, email, dance, bring cookies, whatever will help.

There are hundreds of children who benefit from this program. Not just my kid or yours, but kids who need an advocate.

Kids who need the education and skills to take them through life – to keep them on the straight and narrow.

Kids who need help.

Remember who you work for.

Wouldn’t you want someone to advocate for your child if you couldn’t?


 The link to the donation page is:  fundly.com/the-need-to-read?noguide=1

If you’d rather make a donation via check, I’ll take that too. Please make it out to Miami Shores Elementary PTA. I’ll come pick it up.

If you can’t make a donation, please share this page with friends, family, corporations, Oprah, Bill Gates, Jay Z and Bey.  Blue is going to need to learn how to read at some point.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart and Happy Holidays.


4 Responses to “Who Do You Work For?”

  1. Clarice Kodsi December 6, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

    Oh, Rebecca, how eloquent! I thank you, both as a parent of another gifted student at Miami Shores Elementary (the one in the red shirt in the picture above!), and as the PTA president.
    For the past two years we have been an advocate of reading at the elementary school. We’ve passed out bookmarks and pencils (instead of candy) to the kids who stop by our booths at community events. We instituted the Used Book Exchange at the school and now have two per year. The students love this because they bring in their old books and get to trade them for books they haven’t read yet. Students stop me when I’m on campus to tell me what book they’re reading – and sometimes I get a hug (an added bonus!)
    The Accelerated Reader program is vital in getting our kids to read. If they have the passion to read now, it will follow them throughout their lives.
    Thank you for posting about this on your blog. Thank you as a fellow parent, PTA member, and a friend.

    • uncommom December 6, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

      Clarice, I should be thanking you. For everything. This is an important campaign. I hope that it will also engage other parents, friends, students to raise awareness and funds via grass roots efforts.

  2. Brenda Swain December 8, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

    With tears in my eyes and chills on my arms, THANK YOU!

    • uncommom December 9, 2013 at 9:31 am #

      Thank you Ms. Swain. You are a remarkable role model, leader and friend.

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