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DR. SHARIFAH LEE

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I was a public school teacher. I am a product of public school and so are my siblings. But things have changed. So when I moved back to Miami, I realized that I did not want my sons in the public system, even though I grew up there and worked there. As a teacher, I did my best and I did impact the students there. But I knew for my boys, I wanted to be at a school like Columbus.

The Step Up scholarship gave me that opportunity. I was recently divorced and, as a public school teacher, was not making that much. Moving back to Miami is exactly what I needed for my sons, and for them to receive the faith-based education. Columbus has given them the opportunity to grow into the men that they need to be. Their faith has been established and sustained at their school. And I am just so grateful and want to sincerely thank those who made their scholarships possible.

Now I teach at Columbus. I teach U.S. history honors. By trade, I am a lawyer, and am licensed in Georgia. Here, I am an educator and soon I will begin teaching law education. I am very excited that Columbus has given me the opportunity to use my law degree. Next year, I will be teaching law, criminal justice honors, which is going to be a dual enrollment credit with FIU, and criminal law.

Each year we are going to add a new law class. This year, we are starting with our mock trial team. We are bringing our alumni back to start our mock trial team so we can stay competitors. It builds crucial critical thinking skills for our students.  I try to promote and market that law is in every facet and every discipline. We have a great legal alumni population: judges, attorneys, and people in the criminal justice field. 

“I have a child who has an IEP, but he is still held to the high standards as other students.”

I am hometown Florida girl. My parents came to this country as immigrants with seven kids and they educated all seven of us. I went on to law school and did all my schooling in Georgia. In Georgia they are really big into charter schools and the charter schools have different levels. My boys went to a linguistic charter school. They were supposed to learn Spanish. Half of the instruction was supposed to be in Spanish. But due to personal issues, we moved to Miami.

When I was with the charter schools, I was happy with the alternative choice. I’ve always had my sons in some sort of alternative choice school. There are some great public schools, but not every school is great for every child. In some, the students are no longer thriving. They are just railroaded.

I have a child who has an IEP, but he is still held to the high standards as other students. They are still learning the same thing, but just on a different level. They don’t just put him to the side. I felt the public school did that. You have to teach to a test so you no longer have the creativity that the private schools offer or that the alternative school offer. I’ve seen that as an educator in the public school system. Because of the size of Florida choice program, Florida is an attractive place to live.   

When I moved back to Miami, I initially started teaching at a public school. This is my first year teaching at Columbus. My boys started at Columbus before I did. I was a public school teacher in Miami Dade County. I was thankful for the opportunity because they had a criminal justice magnet program. And since I am a lawyer, that was my field and I was excited about that opportunity.

However, I am happier now that I am teaching at a private school because, at Columbus, I can express my faith without being stifled. I am encouraged to express my faith. I know that but ‘by the grace of God’ I have overcome so many battles and my sons are not statistics; I am not a statistic. I appreciate the teacher choice to come to a private school, as well as the parental choice.

BECOME A VOICE FOR CHOICE
BECOME A VOICE FOR CHOICE