When Ieshia Brooks began her journey at Buffalo Public Schools (BPS) Adult Education Division, she wondered if she would – or could – finish. What kept her on her path to success was a promise she made to one of her sons, the support she received along the way, and her strong faith in God.
Going back to school was “the longest year and a half of my life,” she said. “There were times when I wanted to give up, but my team (of instructors and advisors), along with my family and friends, made me understand that was not an option.”
This is the type of student who serves as a role model for the Adult Education Division according to Amanda Vellake, Director of the BPS Division. “We are just so proud of all her accomplishments. Hard work pays off and she didn’t give up. We recognize how that can inspire other students.”
When Ieshia first started taking night classes, she was employed full-time at First Student. Eventually, she switched to part-time to ensure she could focus on her studies and reach her academic and career goals. A month after completing preparation classes, she earned her high school equivalency (HSE) diploma. She was simultaneously enrolled in the Division’s Buffalo School of Cosmetology and, upon completion of those classes, was granted a temporary New York State License. Because of COVID restrictions, NYS is not offering the practical portion of the exam until further notice.
That’s not stopping her from strategizing for the future. While COVID has put many activities on hold, Ieshia is formulating plans to open a wig store and salon with a focus on people who suffer from alopecia and cancer. She credits her Cosmetology Instructor, Danielle Mott, with seeing things in herself that she didn’t know she could do, such as becoming an entrepreneur.
Ieshia is grateful for all of her instructors and advisors at the Adult Education Division. “Surround yourself with positive people and you will get positive results.” She also singled out BPS Adult Education Division instructor Lisa Deinzer and recalled, “She often said that if I take two steps forward, she would take four to help me.”
Lisa, a HSE teacher who assisted Ieshia with math, is grateful in return. She still recalls a phone conversation last summer when the two talked about life, kids, school, and dreams. “By the end, we were both laughing. The moment made me realize that sometimes we need our students just as much as they need us. When we hung up, I just knew in my heart that this was a woman who was going to be successful no matter what came her way.”
Ieshia is the mother of six children: two in college, two in private schools, one in public school and one in a Pre-K program. “I am blessed to have all well-behaved children,” adding, “I truly believe it takes a village to raise a child. I thank everyone who has played a role in our lives.”
Buffalo Public Schools Adult Education Division offers free preparation classes for earning a high school equivalency diploma and for Learning English. A wide variety of other training and community education programs will be offered once again when the Division resumes in-person classes. Visit www.UpSkill.org for more information.