Sharon Lemons, a preschool teacher, is the mom of bright and creative daughter Johnae. The family lives in Ward 7, where Johnae is a rising ninth grader at her in-boundary middle school. For Sharon and her family, a quality education is a priority, and making sure that Johnae attends a quality high school has remained top-of-mind for Sharon throughout her daughter’s education. “I tell her to try her best but I don’t accept Cs, because Cs are average – and she’s not average.”
Sharon was contacted by her DCSRN parent advocate when the common lottery opened in mid-December. Initially, she was completely overwhelmed by the process; Johnae’s in-boundary high school was not quality, and Sharon had never completed a lottery application before.
“I was like ‘Lottery! Oh lord.’ I wanted the whole process to be easier – like just go and enroll your kid somewhere – but it wasn’t as bad as I thought because I got help.”
For Sharon, having her daughter attend a high school that challenged her daughter academically became the most important factor when choosing schools, and she was excited to learn about the variety of quality programs available in the District. Her advocate spoke with her about what a quality school entailed, and helped her research schools that would be the best fit for Johnae’s interests. Together, they completed the My School DC application and highly ranked several selective high schools, including School Without Walls, Banneker, and McKinley Tech. After the lottery results were released, Sharon was informed of Johnae’s acceptance to McKinley Tech. However, the family still had some hesitation.
“Everyone keeps saying it’s such an amazing school, but we weren’t sure. But she absolutely loves it – she attended Shadow Day at McKinley Tech where a senior girl took her around for 3-4 hours and she absolutely loved it. She showed her where the classrooms are, where the lockers are, said things like ‘Stick with the winners, stay with people who have your best interests at heart, strive for perfection’ so then I absolutely loved it. I was like ‘Wow, this sounds positive!’”
Seeing that McKinley Tech would be the perfect fit for Johnae, Sharon quickly completed enrollment to secure her seat with her advocate’s support. Not only will the school challenge her daughter academically, but it also has a wealth of opportunities and extracurriculars that appeal to Johnae, including ROTC. Now the family eagerly awaits the Fall when Johnae will start as a McKinley Tech freshman, and her mom feels that the school will keep Johnae on the right path to college.“She’s an honor roll student. My hope is that she succeeds and then she says she wants to be a doctor or a lawyer. Anything that she dreams, I have her back.”
“I really appreciate [your help] because it made me feel like I wasn’t alone. A lot of the time parents want to feel like someone’s got their back and will help them with whatever we need.”