At Providence Englewood Charter School (PECS), we celebrate and recognize black excellence every day. Black excellence means not being afraid of hard work. I see the hard work our children put in every day, and I completely understand it. I am a black woman from the Englewood neighborhood. Throughout my K-12 years of school, I was educated in the CPS. During this time, I overcame many barriers related to the negative impact that poverty inflicts on communities. However, despite these barriers, my diligence allowed me to earn multiple advanced degrees. I have learned and come to understand, more importantly, that black excellence is not about status, but it is being a servant and addressing the needs of the community where your roots are so deeply embedded.
At PECS, we believe in the whole child and ensure that all possess a growth mindset, interpersonal skills, cultural competence, confidence, creativity, health/wellness, and self-knowledge. Therefore our school leaders contribute to our community and the world by taking the time and opportunity to create a nurturing environment that facilitates growth. We take our mission very seriously; even with limited resources, we find a way or make one. By seeing our dedication and experiencing our commitment, our scholars embrace their ability, desire, and gift to demonstrate excellence, and even if things get difficult, they, in turn, find a way or make a way.
From day one, our community of scholars embarks on a journey that provides opportunities that make them lifelong learners and lead them to better economic and social outcomes. PECS future scholars become trailblazers that persevere because of the courage and determination instilled in them. They excel and are afforded opportunities to attend top-tier high schools and universities that teach and train students; this is the essence of black excellence.
PECS supports its students and staff by tailoring the school to meet dynamic students and staff needs. The process involves all stakeholders’ voices and remains focused on models of continuous sustainability, learning, planning, and pedagogy. As a school leader, I believe it is vital for our public education system to double down on our investment in black excellence. As educators, it is our responsibility to help our students to reach their fullest potential and pursue lifelong dreams. Let’s not lose track of what we are here to do when we combine equity with equality for all students; we then break through structural and systematic issues. Doubling down on our investment in black excellence is an important way to support, promote and honor the black community. By promoting equity and equality, in all schools it allows every student to reap benefits that come from a quality education; this equity and equality can only come by creating equal access to the resources that exist. We must make our investment in black excellence a priority.
Shinwe Shelton is the Deputy Director of Operations at Providence Englewood Charter School, affectionately known as (PECS). PECS is located on our city’s south side in the Englewood community and serves 460 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.