We had the good fortune of connecting with Sanidia Oliver Stone and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sanidia, how does your business help the community?
Our school helps the community by providing an alternative to traditional school models that don’t work for a lot of kids. School sizes should be smaller and more intimate with the opportunities for teachers, children and parents to develop relationships which support and are reciprocal to one another.
At MOS, we believe that kids everywhere deserve the right to an exceptional and inspiring educational experience. Many of the social issues we’re facing as a country and as a collective global humanity arise from a lack of proximity to folks who don’t look or think like us. Schools are more segregated today than they were during the Civil Rights Movement. The racial and socioeconomic vacuum schools exist in aren’t accidental. They’re absolutely intentionally designed to either isolate the poor kids of color, or protect the wealthier, whiter counterparts. No one wins when this happens, it only exacerbated the problem. There’s always this really awkward moment in integrating schools in gentrifying neighborhoods where the super brave white urban pioneers sacrifice their kids to the masses, and start enthusiastically advocating for better books, facilities and teachers. Like Tank from Tank and the Bangas says in “There Goes the Neighborhood”
“As if those things weren’t important or needed before they came”
We also contribute to the community by providing jobs to teachers which provide a living wage. When teachers are professionalized and paid well, their quality of life improves which in turn frees them up to be their best selves for our children.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’d love to say I spend most of my time teaching, but these days, it often feels like I’m juggling dozens of different balls. I spend my time supporting teachers, managing the daily operations at our elementary, writing grant proposals, giving tours, navigating licensing island accreditation, talking with architects as we develop our future home site on Bouldercrest Road, updating the website, interfacing with parents, carpool, supporting the Director of the early care, and interviewing families, kids and future teachers. My favorite parts of my week are teaching the Kindergarten and 1st graders writing, teaching school wide permaculture and our Antiracist Curriculum which centers marginalized people and voices alongside common core standards.
I’m also lucky enough to sneak in a hug and kiss or two from my own kids who attend the school. Quinlan, 8 and Sophia, 12.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Atlanta is such a cool place. It’s changed a lot since I arrived in 2007, but what doesn’t change? The nice thing about Atlanta is that it has a little bit of everything. From walking Funky Little Five Points, eating at some really amazing places like Holy Taco, Revival in Decatur, Butter and Cream to shopping at Ponce City Market, Dekalb Farmers Market or Gunshow. The Zoo or Aquarium is always a fun place to visit and seems to change every time you go. There are also some incredible green spaces in and around Atlanta, my favorite being Intrenchment Creek or Constitution Lake. It’s an urban forest that truly feels magical and nestled right here, inside the city.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
When an idea is generated, it requires time and skill to allow it the space to grow and become.
I am grateful for all of the parents, for our board, friends and my family and most importantly kids and teachers who believed and continue to believe in my idea of a more equitable educational sphere and who give so much of themselves so that it could become more. I am endlessly full of love for the beauty and hope humanity contains. It is our time now, to do better.