Growing up Too Fast in New Rochelle

Over the last 10 days, my local community has been rocked by a tragedy that claimed the life of a 16 year old girl and shattered the future of the teen who committed the crime. Sadly, both girls were students at the high school that my son, who is a sophomore, currently attends.

Within a week of the incident, another fight broke out and a teenage boy suffered lacerations to his hands and in retaliation, he stabbed another teen in his class. To say that parents whose kids attend the high school are reeling over the lack of supervision and the poor response to the events by the Board of Education is an understatement.

While I know the community, the administration, school board members and the police are going to work to put an end to the violence that seems to be happening on a daily basis at the school, what I’m more concerned about is why these incidents keep happening. What I have learned is that there is a large gang presence at New Rochelle High School and while most students like my son just avoid the violent fights that break out and the stairwells that reek from marijuana, for a very long time, the gangs have been able to do what they want, leave the school at any hour of the day and ignore security guards who attempted to curb their dangerous behavior.

For the past week and a half, I had to grapple with the fact that while I love that my son’s high school offers great academic programs, incredibly talented and committed teachers, dozens of after school activities, fantastic sports teams and a friend group comprised of bright, funny and hard working kids, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine.

I know that my children are incredibly lucky to have a strong support system comprised of their family and friends, but I cannot say the same for the teens who have become susceptible to gangs. Which leads me back to the first story. Sadly, I heard from several people in my community that the girl who was murdered was practically raising herself. She no longer lived with her parents and she had become a target of bullies because she looked different and wore “Goth” makeup. She was enrolled in academically challenging classes and students who knew her said she was a nice girl, but she was obviously troubled. Unfortunately, on a day she was supposed to be in school, she found herself in a situation where she was cornered by a gang, pepper sprayed them in order to ward them off, was chased by the group and then stabbed twice in the torso.  Tragically, she passed away the same day.

The perpetrator of the crime has a pretty sad backstory as well. It was discovered soon after the murder that she was living in a homeless shelter in Yonkers but attending school in New Rochelle because that was the last place her family lived before they had to leave their home. There’s no telling what this girl had to go through every day just to get to school. And did all of these problems in her life lead her to decide to join a violent gang? I guess we will eventually find out what happened but I do hope something can be done to help rehabilitate this girl. I’m sure she didn’t start her morning thinking she would be arrested for murder. And the poor girl who was killed didn’t start her day thinking she’d be cornered by a gang, but somehow it happened and things have got to change now.

It is my sincere hope the students at New Rochelle High School will eventually get the chance to attend a school that’s free from gang violence. I want students who may not be fortunate enough to have the support of their families to be able to seek immediate help from administrators, teachers, guidance counselors, social workers and mentors in the community who can provide them with tangible ways to break free from this dangerous cycle and live up to their true potential. I’m not naive to think we can cure gang violence with hugs, but I do know these kids need tough love, mentorship and stability in their lives so they can find their way out of a world that is dangerous and self destructive.

Change is scary but it can also be very positive. Here’s hoping that New Rochelle High School will finally lead the way in changing the dynamic among students living in our community and attending our public schools for the better. We want our kids to be safe, to feel secure when they’re in school and be empowered to make a difference in the lives of others. As the anger subsides, we must find solutions, make much needed changes and support all of our students no matter who they are or where they come from.

Introducing the Six Degrees Podcast Network on Blog Talk Radio

I’m super excited to announce that Role Mommy is going back to Blog Talk Radio. While I’ve been doing podcasts over the last year, I decided it was time to go back to the place that gave me my start as a podcaster – Blog Talk Radio. Lucky for me, they invited me to create my own network on the site and I of course decided to call it Six Degrees – because if I don’t know someone, I definitely know someone else who does. Hope you enjoy the content. I’ll be updating it weekly so tune into our shows, “The Giggle” and “Outlier Parenting” and if you’d like to be a guest, please send me an email at beyondpr@gmail.com.

The Fork in the Road

When I started out in my career, I always thought the sky was the limit. I was a perpetual dreamer and took a chance to become an entrepreneur at a pretty young age. But what happens when you look back 10 years later and have hit a fork in the road? Should I stay the course and navigate my own entrepreneurial journey or should I go back to a stable full time job?  Listen in and find out…

 

Outlier Parenting Series…Sherri and Isabella Rose Taylor

16 year old fashion and art phenom Isabella Rose Taylor is the product of two incredibly supportive parents. I met Isabella five years ago when she was a budding fashion designer and artist when her parents hired my PR agency to introduce this incredibly talented young girl to the media world.  From the moment I met Isabella, I knew she was so special and I was so impressed with how her parents were already managing her career – from gallery openings, to runway shows, to selling her clothes to a major department store, the sky was the limit for Isabella and it continues to be as her art continues to evolve as her entrepreneurialism thrives.

So how did the Taylor’s guide their Outlier child toward success?  Listen in to our latest interview with her mom Sherri Taylor and check out her interview below.

Below is Sherri’s Q&A:

Q. What talent did you notice in Isabella when she was really young?
A. We discovered Bella’s artistic ability at age three.

Q. How did you help cultivate that talent?
A. Both my husband and I cultivated her talent for art by encouraging her to pursue her passion, helping her find art supplies that she wanted to experiment with and just getting out of her way so to speak.

Q. Did your child ever tell you that they didn’t want to pursue that passion anymore? What did you do?
A. I think her passion for being creative has morphed into different things over the years. She enjoys art, fashion and product design as well as entrepreneurship. As a parent, I encouraged her in whatever her current endeavor may be because ultimately we want our children to be happy.

Q. What is Bella doing now to pursue what she loves and continue to get proficient at it?

A. I think if I have to place an age on proficiency in art I would say when she started selling her art through a national gallery as well as her fashion designs to large retailers, both at age 11.

Q. What has been your approach to raising your child?
A. I am probably a mix of cheerleader and an outlier. Isabella has not had a traditional education in order to accommodate her academically as well as allowing more time to pursue art and fashion.

Q. What do you admire most in your child?
A. I admire her humble nature.

Q. What would you have done differently in your own career now that you are a parent with kids on the verge of making their own decisions about their professional life?
A. That is a hard question to answer but I feel that taking more risks in what I was interested in doing. I would have also preferred a more unconventional educational upbringing.

To find out more about Isabella Rose Taylor, you can visit her website at www.isabellarosetaylor.com.