Do you honestly believe that parents make a difference in their child’s education? Dr. Travis J. Bristol seems to think so. From the heights of New York City to a Research and Policy Fellow at Stanford University, Travis has seen it all. I asked Travis to share some insight into his personal experience of being raised in a single parent household and the benefits of a support team in school.
- Did your parents have an impact on your education? How?
I grew up in a single mother household. As a child, I remember my mother reading to me and coming to teacher/parent conferences. She was also very active in helping me with my homework, especially in my elementary years.
- Do you wish your parents were less or more involved in your education?
I think my mom was as involved as I allowed her to be. I believe the school could have been more creative in involving her, but I feel my mother did the best she could given the circumstances she was dealing with.
- Did you have a favorite teacher? Why?
One of my favorite teachers is Ms. Shapiro, she was my 11th grade teacher at Washington Irving High School. She was my favorite teacher, because she made learning come alive. Ms. Shapiro not only gave us challenging text to read, but she made us act them out. For example, when we were reading the Scarlet Letter, she had students walk around with the letter “A” across their neck so they could get a sense of what the character was feeling.
- Who helped you succeed the most in school?
I had a small group of teachers that held me to high expectations and a guidance counselor who told me I had the potential to apply to more challenging schools.
- Why did they push you?
They probably pushed me, because they saw something in me.
- What influenced you to pick your career?
I had the misfortune and fortune of going to a really challenging school, Washington Irving Heights School. In 2004, it was rated on the top twelve most dangerous schools in New York City. Nevertheless, I had the fortune of going to one of the best colleges in the country, a small little art college in Massachusetts, because of my high school. In recognizing the opportunity, I wanted to use what was given to me to help others. I thought teaching and education might be the ideal profession.
- What advice would you give to kids that are in school or about to enter school?
Read every day, don’t accept everything that people say, be critical of what teachers tell you, and what the media tells you about yourself and about people who look like you. In addition, read what intelligent people are writing and imitate their writing to help improve your own skills. As long as you can read or write, people will respect you.
- As a parent now and being successful, what do you take from what your mother did to your kids now?
Something my mother did was read to her kids. Due to my mother’s concern about my education, I have incorporated her passion into my own children’s schooling. I am very fortunate to have a very flexible job so I can work from home at times. Therefore, I can go and read in my kids’ classes. So many parents today don’t have that kind of flexibility and so the T.V. becomes their babysitter. Nevertheless, children need to read more and if possible, turn off the T.V.
More about Dr. Travis J. Bristol here