Sunday, October 7, 2012

My First Red Carpet Experience

                               MY First Red Carpet Experience                                

Felisa Hilbert (OK)and Gwen Samuel (CT)
. When I first started doing volunteer work to advocate for Education, Parental Engagement, Diversity and health issues for children, I never imagined it would take me to distant places like New York City City to a red Carpet event.   I had the opportunity to be invited to the premiere of the movie “Won’t Back Down”.  I didn’t realize how amazing my luck was until my friend Gwen told me that this was a real red carpet event and that the stars of the film were going to be there!  I exclaimed, “But I don’t have anything fancy to wear”.  Shoes!  People who know me know that I love fancy shoes.  I was already in Washington DC attending a Emerging Minority Leadership Conference with NPTA (and battling a bad case of Bronchitis that almost made me miss the whole weekend), and from there I took the train to New York to attend the Social Good Summit and see some of my shot@Life friends.  I left the summit at 4:00  in the afternoon and went to my hotel to get ready for the special event (the movie premier!). 

My red carpet experience was amazing from the moment I arrived.  Gwen Samuel, Julie Bergin and I were the first to arrive. Later we saw our friend Melissa Bilash.  The line became long and you could hear the excitement from everyone already there.  It finally hit me that this was a premiere event and that I was part of a select group to preview this movie.  We were escorted in where they checked the guest list and give me a pass.  Surprise!  The pass was also an invitation to a reception following the movie premiere.  Wow!  We got inside of the famous and beautiful Ziegfeld theater, got our popcorn and drinks and found a good seat.  It was exciting see the producer, movie stars and other important people in education arriving.  Before the movie started the producer of the movie gave an introduction.
The movie portrays Maggie Gyllenhaal, the mother of a dyslexic 3rd grade student who is struggling in school.  She is trying to ensure her child has access to a quality school.  No matter how much she asked for help for her daughter, she found no support available in her school system.  Viola Davis portrays a teacher in a school where they seem to have lost their passion and are very discourage.  These two mothers are determined to transform their failing inner schools. “Won’t Back Down” sheds light on the issues that many families, students and teachers are facing, and on how we can come together as a community for benefit of all. 
I found it very refreshing to be able to talk about something that is happening in some school’s communities.  This movie addresses issues that are relevant in communities’ throughout our country.

I believe this film will provoke and inspire parents and teachers to think, talk and find solutions.  Such dialog is needed to make sure our students are getting the best education possible - and that we are preparing our students to be college-ready.  The bottom line: this movie is not about a battle between parent and teachers.  I can tell you by my experience here in the state of Oklahoma, which ranks 48th in teacher’s salaries that teachers choose to teach because of their love for the children - NOT for the money.  On the other hand, parents want to be part of the process and want the best education for their children.  They want to be listened to and they want to be treated with respect.  Remember, you don’t need to have a teaching degree to be educated.  No parent wants to see their child left behind.

Julie B. NY, Gwen S. CT,
Miss Viola Davis & Felisa H. OK
·        Just like the mothers in the movie, I am an advocate for education who has worked tirelessly for many years to give a voice to the many parents that cannot express their opinions because of a lack of fluency in the English language.  Many of them also lack formal education or are timid at   getting involved.I try to be their voice; I do it for my children and for all of their children. In my community we had more 58 different languages and many of these minority parents have students who go to our English Language Learner program.  I had made it my mission to ensure that these parents know that they are welcome in our schools, their voices are represented and they are participating in their kids’ education.

I believe that all children are teachable, and that all parents, teachers and administrators need to be accountable for the students in their schools and communities.  I also believe that all children deserve the best education, no matter where they come from, regardless of their socio-economic status.  
Felisa Hilbert OK, Gwen Samuel CT
with Miss Maggie Gyllenhaal
Each one of us needs to work hard to ensure that we are providing our students with the tools they will need to survive, raise and lead the next generation.  I don’t want to scare you but this our responsibility.  Blaming, ignoring or dumping problems in each other’s laps is not going to help to solve the problem.  We need to acknowledge the problems with education and work together to fix them.  I would recommend this movie to all of our parents, teachers, future teachers and anyone who works with children.  I promise that you will leave the theater feeling excited and with a desire to double your efforts to ensure a better education for our children.

The reception was incredible, full of celebrities, great food and I was able to meet many important people in the field of education. My friends and I had fun trying to recognize movie stars and of course, I took some pictures with the actors, had the opportunity to meet the producer - and some of the people who inspired this movie.