Alumni Testimonials from Meadows-Livingstone Students

 I remember the community atmosphere, the group meetings, the spelling pictures, the educational board games, the drumming lessons and timed math quizzes. Most of all, I remember the rap that a friend and wrote about the 1984 presidential election. Run Jesse Run!

As 7 and 8 year olds, we were taught the importance of taking responsibility for not only our actions, but also for our education. At Meadows-Livingstone, children are not subject to the traditional confines of their given grade. This takes the boredom out of school and allows children to pursue their personal academic interests, thus creating a foundation of success that can be built upon in all of their future endeavors. I am proud to say that my fellow graduates and I have developed into self-motivated lifelong learners with an ingrained respect for both the world in which we live and more importantly, for ourselves.

I have a BS in Finance and with a minor in English from Georgetown University. I do not currently anticipate returning to school, however, I do envision myself teaching at some point in my life. I would volunteer at the M-L school. I would also not only enroll my child at the M-L school, but also recommend it to others.

Anyé Spivey

I attended Meadows-Livingstone Elementary School from 1985-1990.   I remember my first day at Meadows-Livingstone Elementary School.  I walked through the front door into a large living room and saw children of varying ages doing all types of interesting things.  Some read, some played with toys, some were being taught, but all were focused on an activity that truly interested them.

Though I had previously been in an “alternative” school, Meadows-Livingstone struck me as immediately distinct.  Students seemed more like an extended family.  We grew and developed under the supervision of our elders.  Meadows-Livingstone truly allowed the “village” to raise the children.

At Meadows-Livingstone I learned to value knowledge, community, heritage/history, diverse activities and experiences, and a sense of self.  Though I had some difficulties after elementary school, it was because no other institution upheld the standard previously set.  I have yet to find the same blend of mental, cultural, social, and physical challenges in an educational setting, even at Morehouse College.

I will graduate with a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Sociology from Morehouse this December.  I plan to seek a Master’s Degree in Social Psychology, but I will always thirst for new knowledge and experiences.  I also feel that assisting in the development of children and adolescents will always play a role in my life, and I hope that I can someday give back to the current students of Meadows-Livingstone.

Mathias Spero

I attended the Meadows-Livingstone School from 1987 to 1991. Unlike many teachers, Gail made the learning experience fun and relevant. She taught me to be a responsible and independent student. These years laid the foundation for my future educational accomplishments.

In 2002, I earned a BA in Applied Mathematics from UC Berkeley. Recently, I was blessed to get accepted into the UCSF School of Medicine. I plan to attend in the fall!

For the past several years I have returned to the Meadows-Livingstone community as a Math teacher. One of the beautiful things I have realized from spending time in the school as an adult, is how much Gail instills pride and builds the self esteem of the children. It is the solid academics and the life skills that Gail and the other teachers provide that make Meadows-Livingstone such a unique and excellent school.

Jamila Harris

It was not until Meadows-Livingstone school that my sense of sombidess became reinforced within an academic space. While attending the school I felt safe and comfortable, respected and celebrated, academically challenged and deeply valued. Gail and the community that she created made me feel important–that my blackness which had been distained at other
schools was something to be valued and something to be deeply proud of.  Now, as a graduate student in African Diaspora Studies, I have no doubt that it was Meadows-Livingstone, coupled with my family support that made me love myself and black people. Gail gave me the academic tools and confidence that I needed in order to survive within oppressive spaces. I wonder what path I would have walked if I did not have the soft walls of Meadows Livingstone School to support me for six years.

Jasmine Johnson

I am a recent graduate from Emerson college in Boston with a degree in Audio/Radio. During high school (Holy Names) I became involved in Youth Radio, a non-profit organization based out of Berkeley that teaches youth basic radio skills (commentary and news writing, PSA, DJing) and assists them in producing a weekly radio show on 89.3 KPFB (part of KPFA). During my four year involvement with the program I was part of the Youth Radio team that won the Edward R Murrow award for Broadcasting.

All of these experiences and accomplishments were positive because I was always taught to believe in myself and to know who I am and who I would like to become since I was a child. The foundation for these fundamental beliefs were obtained and put into practice as soon as I began Gail’s school, Meadows-Livingstone. Since I was in Kindergarten, Gail let me think for myself, taught me it was ok to express myself and how to stand up for myself. Interpersonal communications between students as well as conflict resolution were concepts we dealt with on a daily basis at Meadows. I can remember the morning meetings we had everyday before school began. Everyone had their day to facilitate the meeting, we all sat in a circle and discussed our complaints, our appreciations and any news we wanted to share, for example a current event we wanted to discuss. School was a community, a small village where each student, kindergartener to sixth grader, served as a role model, teacher and leader. Gail taught us from a very early age to wear many hats and to learn how to be responsible for ones self as well as the larger community.

Reyna Gillead

I attended 1980-1988. I remember, along with other students, protesting outside of Mayor Dianne Feinstein’s office in an effort to save our neighborhood library.  Mayor Feinstein approached us and I blurted out “we want our library!”     I also remember going camping; learning about the history of historically oppressed and marginalized groups.

Let’s just say, all I needed to know I learned in elementary school.  At the Meadows-Livingstone School we learned more than just reading, writing and arithmetic.  We learned how to become positive social change agents.  I remember boycotting companies doing business in Apartheid South Africa and writing letters to politicians on behalf of exploited and indigent members of our community.

My post high school education is as follows: I Received my B.A. from Mills College, an M.A. in clinical social work from Smith College and my J.D. from the Pennsylvania State University-Dickinson School of Law.  I plan to continue my work with the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia

Quo Mieko Judkins

I love Meadow’s Livingstone School. I love Gail, Yele, and every single teacher there. It is a place that I learned to love myself and have that same love and compassion for others. At Meadows you learn how to be a leader. You are put in a position to challenge yourself academic level and personal level. When I left Meadow’s, I felt like I could take on the world and that confidence is what minority students cannot find in themselves. Meadows is the place where you find that.”

My fondest memories are poetry Fridays, morning meetings, African civilization class, dancing at the park, talking to Gail when I joined the “woman’s club”… everything!!! I love it there!

Tabitha Ballard

Winner of the Bill Gates Millennium Scholarship

 Parent Testimonials

When children graduate from the Meadows-Livingstone School, they are prepared to live a life of purpose. The school song is “Get Up, Stand Up” and the children know what it means. They leave knowing it would the best school experience they’d ever have. There are always tears at the graduations they call Steppin’ Up and Steppin’ On. Over 90% of the graduates go to four-year colleges, and follow their dreams out of school. They come back. It’s family.

The kids are humane, at ease, independent thinkers: leaders who understand the value of study, culture, health, friendship, art, and, because they were given an African Civilization class EVERYDAY, they know their own value. This gives them a grace and the where-with-all to make the world a better place. I wish that all children of color could share in the nobility ingrained from attending the Meadows-Livingstone School

Karen Johnson Owner of Marcus Books San Francisco

My daughter attended ML for her entire elementary school experience so I am very familiar with the school. Gail Meadows is one of the most gifted and talented teachers I have ever had the opportunity to know. Meadows Livingstone school reflects her extraordinary gifts and educational knowledge.

When my daughter began her schooling I was looking for a school where she would be valued and nurtured as an African American girl. She was admitted to French American and Hamlin but we chose Meadows Livingstone because I was convinced that she would receive a more valuable education with Gail. And, that turned out to be true.

More than just the information side of schooling, Meadows Livingstone promoted my daughter’s innate curiosity and desire to learn. As her schooling continued, her confidence as a learner grew. Meadows Livingstone addresses the needs of the whole child — her mental, physical, and emotional development and well-being.

My child received a well-rounded elementary education, participating in basic studies, art, dance, music, physical education, science, and African American studies. She was well prepared for middle school, high school and beyond. She also developed respect for learning, her classmates and teachers, and a positive awareness of herself as a young African American woman.

Being a part of the Meadows Livingstone family has been one of the most important life experiences for my daughter and our family. It’s a wonderful school.

Laura Luster, Ph.D.

I wish this school could clone itself. African American history is not just for the children of that ethnicity, it is for truth of our nation. I recommend this school because of the care, the patience and most importantly the philosophy that we want ingrained in our children.

I recommend this school most because it has made a difference in my grandson’s life. I have always wanted to raise a male who respects women, understood the values of health and well being. I didn’t discover until I became an adult, and most important the camaraderie and spirit the children enjoy. It is NOT duplicated anywhere.
Thank you Meadows Livingstone School for the decades of service and generations of children you have nurtured taught and cared for.

Ida McCray

My child, and the children of many of my friends, went to Meadows Livingstone. There are so many wonderful things about this school I don’t know where to begin. But first, I want to respond to the parent who thought that the academics are lacking at Meadows. The philosophy of that school is to provide each child with the challenges they can handle when they can handle them. That means that one 8 year old might still be working on multiplication tables, and another might be working on Algebraic equations.

My child struggled with reading at first but by 6th grade was reading Shakespeare on her own, telling me that if you just listened to the words, they were like music, just like Langston Hughes’ poetry. No child is held back because of age or an artificial grade designation, and no child is made to feel stupid because they might be a little behind some arbitrary grade-level standard. Of course no school can do it all for you.

Like any school, parents have to make sure the kids arrive ready and rested and having done their homework. But Meadows children go on to excel in high school, some end up in medical school, or with scholarships to Columbia, or in graduate school at UC Berkeley, or teaching, some go to city college and on from there, all of them knowing that they have the tools they need to set their sights high.

They go armed with not just academic skills, but with good sense, self-confidence, and the tools they need to negotiate race as they proceed through a world that does not share Meadows philosophy or commitment to justice. I have seen children who come into that school as geniuses and leave as geniuses with heart, good sense, and vision.

I have seen others who come in so battered by their life experiences in other schools that they literally cannot bring themselves to speak above a whisper for months, and they leave being able to make a speech to a room full of people about what Meadows means to them. Meadows is a family, and just like every family not every child excels at everything, and not all grasp every subject on the same schedule. But every child is nurtured and challenged and never held back. Sending my child to Meadows was one of the best decisions I ever made for her.

Denise Hulett