A Powerful Response That Stopped Me Dead In My Tracks

She responded. And, she’s doing something about it.

When we tell educational stories our strongest desire is to connect people. That’s it. Because if we see ourselves in someone else’s life then maybe we behave differently. Maybe we will be a little more patient; not look away from the uncomfortable conditions; strike up a conversation to learn what we don’t know; or educate someone else when they say something stupid. Or maybe we actually do something about it, and help. That’s what Brandie Dickerson does and continues to do.

Her powerful response to our story on Bonita Spring Elementary deserves to be shared. Here’s the email she sent to Ms. Caputo and I.

Hi Mrs. Caputo,

I literally cried reading the article. Thank you for sending it. It described you and the Bonita Springs Elementary [BES] family perfectly! What you, your staff, students and parents working together have accomplished is truly magical!

I am inspired, challenged and encouraged by your fierce devotion to excellence and uncompromising belief that though your students might be poor in worldly goods they are rich in potential. I told David, your intern that formerly worked for me- “David you have too much potential to be a world class teacher to serve under any old principal, you need to be with Caputo, she will cultivate your greatness.”

I want to personally thank you for setting an example of rejecting a poverty mentality. As long as that mentality is embraced it will be generationally perpetuated. The posture of expectations and accountability you have set is helping crush the physical, intellectual, and emotional affects of poverty in the lives of these children and their families for generations to come.

This hits close to home for me. My mother was the baby of 14 children raised in the Mississippi Delta in a sharecropping family. If you know anything about sharecropping in the rural, Deep South it’s not much different from migrant farm work. My mother picked cotton beginning at age 5, and my uncles typically dropped out of school in the third grade to pick cotton full time. My mother also dropped out in eighth grade to work to survive.

She remembers her first pair of shoes, her first bologna sandwich, wore dresses made from the cotton sacks the flour came in, and I am but one generation removed from that impoverishment.

To know better is to do better. I am thankful for people like you, and places like BES, that serve as shining beacons or “magical unicorns” guiding these precious, potential filled children towards freedom from impoverishment. I am living proof of how transformative breaking that cycle can be.

It is no small thing to play an active part in helping others achieve the American Dream. This is still the land of opportunity because of people like you and places like BES.

As for Bonita Kiwanis, we are so proud to call BES our new home, to continue the Reading Rocks program, and we look forward to many more magical moments!  We will share the below beautifully written article far and wide.

Thank you,


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