Miesha Fulton starts every morning with a simple goal.
“I’m going to get all my work done today. I’m not talking today. I’m just going to go to school and do this today,” she said.
Each day, as she ticks through her mental To-Do list, she ends the day feeling accomplished. And as a 21-year-old, Miesha said she doesn’t have time to waste. After spending years searching for her purpose, she’s found it at LEAD and she’s not letting it go.
“This right here is my last stop. I’m not giving this up. My seat ain’t gone be taken by nobody else. That’s my seat,” she said.
A chance encounter led Miesha to LEAD about two years ago. She was 19-years-old and expecting a baby girl. Feeling smothered, tired and overwhelmed in her overcrowded school community, she dropped out when she was one year away from graduation.
“I just gave up,” she said.
Once her daughter was born, she was focused on surviving. She made some money on the side working security for local businesses, but it wasn’t enough. So she turned to the streets, selling drugs to take care of herself and her newborn daughter.
One day, as she was on the bus heading home, she randomly saw a LEAD Charter School brochure on the seat.
“I never even heard about LEAD,” she said, “so I was like, ‘Maybe this will be a good source for me. I go to school, plus when I graduate I get a high school diploma and I do a trade.’”
So she applied to LEAD. She went through the Mental Toughness process, earned her LEAD collared shirt and started working toward the diploma. But something was still holding her back from truly committing to LEAD.
“I feel like I let the streets get in the way of my education because I was thinking, If I’m selling drugs, I’m making this much money in the day. And while I’m in school, I’m not making no money. And I got to survive. Nothing’s going to be handed to me,” she said.
So, she left.
“I basically gave up,” she said, leaving behind the LEAD community; but LEAD never let go of Miesha.
She said Mr. Darrell Price, Director of Student Support Service, never lost contact.
“[Mr. Price] used to call me every day. He left me voicemails; ‘Come back to school. Please. We’re going to help you. Just come back,’” she said.
After a few years away, Miesha had a moment of clarity about her future. She couldn’t go back to traditional schools and she couldn’t go back to the streets; LEAD was the only option to get her where she wanted to go. And this time around, she said she’s embracing the supporters around here. Staffers like Price and her advocate counselor Ms. Caine have given her the support she needs to finish. And every morning meeting at LEAD, as she and her peers recite the LEAD philosophy, she’s reminded of the community she’s apart of: an extended family that always wants to see her win.
“When it says, ‘As a community, we are engaged in a united struggle to overcome the social, political, economic, educational and spiritual inequities, which threaten to destroy us as a people — That line makes my body shake because I’m used to the community not coming together. Even in struggle, we got homeless people out here; a meal is not really helping these people because they still need a roof over their heads. But when I come into this school building, this is my community. Everybody in here is my community, so that line makes my body shake. That’s my favorite line in the whole philosophy.”
Miesha has big plans to graduate in June and continue working in the construction industry.
“I feel like I have come a long way. I don’t really dwell on the past,” she said. “I just feel like I have to keep my mind on the prize of what I want because I could give up. But this is the last road, the last stop. My train is not moving after this.”