Asia Fuller Hamilton is a community volunteer, school principal, mom of four, and doctoral student. We have no idea how she does it all – and does it so well. Fuller Hamilton has been with the Champaign Unit 4 School District for 14 years – her entire professional career — and is a home-grown thought leader, first working as a middle school teacher and then later as an administrator, becoming principal of Booker T. Washington (BTW) Elementary in 2009. She is also currently a second-year graduate student working toward my doctoral degree in Educational Leadership and Organization. In her not-so-spare time, she is the financial secretary of the Epsilon Epsilon Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., a service organization that provides scholarships to young ladies within the Champaign, Urbana and Danville communities. She and husband Jermaine Hamilton have four children — Jeremiah, 11; Isaiah, 9; Noah, 6; and Anaiah Grace, 3 — and live in Urbana.
See why we think Asia Fuller Hamilton is a Chambana Mom to Know.
Q: You have shepherded BTW through many changes, including the remodeling, starting a magnet school, etc. What are some of the most leadership important lessons you have learned from this experience?
The most important leadership lesson I have learned is that that no one person can do the work of change alone. There have been many individuals who have put in sweat equity to see Booker T. Washington as it is today. The district administration, teachers, community members and parents work together tirelessly to see the vision of the STEM Academy come to fruition. Booker T. Washington is a concrete example of what can be accomplished when we all work together.
The next important lesson that I have learned is that the change process takes time. We live in a culture that likes immediacy, so it is easy to forget that. This is a lesson that can be applied to both personal and work contexts. At BTW, want to focus on doing things well, not just seeing them completed.
Q: Why should parents of children entering the Champaign Unit 4 schools consider BTW?
I think parents should visit all of the elementary schools and choose the one that is the best fit for their child(ren). The Schools of Choice process is not a competition; it gives parents the opportunity to learn about all of the programs we have to offer and have input in where their child attends. No matter where your child attends, you help to make that school a better place of learning.
Booker T. Washington is a place that seeks to work with all stakeholders to ensure the best education possible for the children. There are multiple opportunities for parents to come in and assist, visit, and have a voice within the school community. I believe in the adage ‘It takes a village to raise a child’.
As a STEM Academy we really want to build upon the curiosities that our students have. We expose them to a variety of STEM related activities and lessons so that they may see the possibilities that exists when they graduate from high school.
Q: What tool or resource in Champaign-Urbana can you not live without (either as a parent or an educator)?
My faith in God is the foremost resource that I cannot live without. It has what has helped in overcoming obstacles that I have encountered. Whether trying to figure out how I could move an entire school to a temporary location or how to get all of my boys to baseball games on different fields, I remember that, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phillipians 4:13).
I also rely on the assistance of others to help accomplish my tasks. My husband, mother, aunt and friends all provide me with help when I request it. They are my life-savers.
Q: In your opinion as a parent and a school administrator: what do you think is the most valuable thing parents in C/U can do to support their schools, teachers, students, etc.?
The most valuable thing that parents can do for their children is to be an advocate for their children. As a parent, you are the first teacher your child will ever have. Ask your children what they learned in school. Help them understand to how to apply that information in real-life experiences. Listen to what they have to say. To support the schools, lend your ideas and insights. Let us know when you see things that you were really impressed with as well as lend us your constructive criticism. Visit the schools whenever you can. We are always looking for volunteers, especially during lunch recess.
Q: If you were given $10,000 for BTW to spend any way you would see fit, what would you do with the money?
I would like to see that money used to begin a scholarship fund. We spend a great deal of time teaching children about the learning opportunities that are present for them outside of school. However, many of these activities have a cost attached to them that many families might not be able to afford. What a great opportunity to have a scholarship fund where students could apply to gain assistance with membership fee to STEM camps, creative writing workshops or even to college sponsored camp! Learning extensions would be a wonderful way to support our students in the summer time or on weekends.
Q: How has being a mom of four impacted your career?
My children have been some of my best teachers! I have learned to be hyper-organized, overly-prepared and to not sweat the small things in life. Through them, I have also learned how to be persistent, how to value people for who they are and how to love unconditionally. There is no job that is more important to me than being a mom. They inspire me to always be at my best. I know that they are watching me and learning from me. The same way that I seek to have a positive impact on their lives is the same way that I hope to have a positive impact on the students I work with. Being a mom and being an educator is ‘heart’ work.
Q: How has working in the school affected how you interact with your own children’s teachers/schools?
I believe in and respect my children’s principal and teachers. I understand what they have to do on a daily basis. If I have questions, I ask them. I visit the schools, attend events/meetings and find ways that I can help within my scope and schedule. Schools are what we invest in them.
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