WAMU 88.5 : News

Michelle Edwards: Not A Lot Of Room For Excuses

Play associated audio
Michelle Edwards is a resident of Dumfries, Va., and the principal at Orr Elementary School in Southeast D.C.
Michelle Edwards
Michelle Edwards is a resident of Dumfries, Va., and the principal at Orr Elementary School in Southeast D.C.

I wasn't a favorite child: I was dark-skinned with bad hair. I didn't feel very loved and didn't get personal attention from anyone. I met my father for the first time at the age of 9, during a visit to see him in prison. He spent only two months of the 27 years I knew him outside those walls. My mom was a rebellious teen. I was one of many cousins that my grandparents had to raise and protect because our moms were on the streets.

At 13 I was forced to live with my mother, who really didn't want me. For the next five years, I spent as much time as I could away from home -- playing volleyball, singing and finding people I could stay with.

At 14 I enrolled in a job-readiness course and began working. I took myself to the doctor whenever something was wrong. I chose my own high school, one far from where I lived. I chose college prep classes and made myself a strong student.

A near-death experience at 17 catapulted me back to my grandmother and eventually into the arms of my son's father. The positive pregnancy result came months before graduation. I almost failed my senior year. I was scared, and I thought I would allow my mom to raise my child. But the minute I saw his beautiful little face, my decision and life changed.

My son and I moved 65 miles away to Northern Illinois University. I took courses in education by day, and read books about time management and work/life balance at night. I was determined not to ask anyone else to raise my child. I didn't want him to ever feel like he was being raised by a teen mom.

I set his sleep schedule to my study schedule. I worked in the library, and he sat behind the counter reading his own little books. If he got sick I brought him with me to class. He'd sit at a little desk outside the door with his snacks, pencil and paper. I had to find a way to be good at whatever I did because I had to provide a stable life for both of us.

I became a teacher and got my 5-year-old into a school for gifted kids. From then on, he went to the best schools. His teachers always knew who I was. He played sports, and there was always someone on the sidelines screaming for him.

Today he's finishing up his third year at Fort Valley State. He's a math and engineering major on a full scholarship. He's on a wonderful journey.

He had the childhood I didn't. And he was the catalyst for me being able to do what I needed to do. My grandmother always told me: "Where there's a will, there's a way." There's not a lot of room for excuses. You just have to figure it out.

NPR

A Compelling Plot Gives Way To Farce In Franzen's Purity

The new novel reveals sharp observations and a great, sprawling story. But critic Roxane Gay says the book gets bogged down with absurdly-drawn characters and misfired critiques of modern life.
NPR

Huge Fish Farm Planned Near San Diego Aims To Fix Seafood Imbalance

The aquaculture project would be the same size as New York's Central Park and produce 11 million pounds of yellowtail and sea bass each year. But some people see it as an aquatic "factory farm."
WAMU 88.5

Europe's Ongoing Migrant And Refugee Crisis And The Future Of Open Borders

The Austria-Hungary border has become the latest pressure point in Europe's ongoing migrant crisis. An update on the huge influx of migrants and refugees from the Middle East and Africa and the future of open borders within the E.U.

WAMU 88.5

Environmental Outlook: How to Build Smarter Transportation And More Livable Cities

A new report says the traffic in the U.S. is the worst it has been in years. Yet, some urban transportation experts say there's reason to be optimistic. They point to revitalized city centers, emerging technology and the investment in alternative methods of transportation. A conversation about how we get around today, and might get around tomorrow.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.