Imani London: A Parent Engagement Success!

Imani London says she’s not one of those parents who sit on the sidelines of their child’s education – and she’s proving that at Next Door.

“I think it’s just the type of person I am – just wanting to really be involved and see what’s going on. Being involved in my daughters’ education is very important to me,” lmani said.

Imani enrolled her two daughters — Eliora and Aadya — at Next Door in the fall of 2018. She spent their first year volunteering in Aadya’s room every day.

“I would eat breakfast with the children, sit on the floor and sing songs, play in the different learning areas and interact with all the students – not just my daughter,” Imani said.

Imani joined both of her daughters for family learning events hosted by Next Door throughout their first year. These opportunities allow parents to engage with their children in educational and interactive activities based on different themes, like recycling and the holidays.

“Those are really fun and the kids love them!” said Imani, pictured below with her family.

Imani’s heavy involvement led to close relationships with her daughters’ teachers, who told her about another way to engage with Next Door and advance her own education.

Imani enrolled in the Early Childhood Scholars program – a collaboration with Milwaukee Area Technical College that allows Next Door parents to earn an early childhood credential to launch a teaching career at Next Door. The scholars take evening classes at Next Door taught by MATC faculty with additional training from Next Door staff. Imani hopes to start teaching here next year.

“Next Door has given a lot to me when it comes to my children and their education and the relationships they’ve built with me, so I would love to be able to give back to them,” she said.

Over the past year, Imani took one more step furthering her parent engagement with Next Door. She joined the Policy Council – a parent governing body required by Head Start agencies like Next Door. Parents get a chance to learn about agency operations and programs, develop family engagement plans and vote on a variety of business matters.

“I like seeing the under-workings of everything and seeing what’s really going on behind your children’s education,” Imani said.

Now into her family’s second year at Next Door, Imani is feeling more empowered as a parent and feeling good about her family’s future.

“Next Door has really made me more confident as a mother. When my daughters come home, I feel more confident to be able to give them what they need,” she said.

Imani receiving her Early Childhood Scholars completion certificate during a special ceremony for families at Manpower in July of 2019. 

Imani and some of her classmates in the Early Childhood Scholars program.