Interview with Chief Condra Ridley
By Eric. D. Hackley
The following is the transcription of an interview Chief Condra Ridley who introduced and spoke on One on One Education Services, founded by Ms. Jimella Harris during a Black History Month taping of Hackonomics:
“Thank you Eric. I appreciate your always being right on time in bringing out discussion about pertinent issues in the African American community. Since we’re taping this during Black History Month, I felt compelled to at least share a photograph and the name of the man who is the historian who started Black History Month and of course it is the great Dr. Carter G. Woodson.
“I think it’s really important for us to note that Dr. Woodson wrote a book in the 1930s called, ‘The Mis-Education of the Negro.’ The information is it is still pertinent today. We know that our education is our primary responsibility. The education of our children is something that is in peril right now. One on One Education Services is an organization that was formed in order to address the educational needs of our children.
“Our ancestors recognized that education was the first step on the road to freedom. I think that, somehow, we may have lost that message, but it is important that we look back into our history and remember that education is key to our success and survival right now.
“This is called the information age and without proper information, it is impossible to function well in this current society. So what we’re wanting to do through One on One Education Services is to help re-empower parents to take ownership of their children’s education.
“One on One Education Services was founded by Jimella Harris who is a partner of mine and an educator who sees the need to get our children started out on the right path educationally. It is much easier to teach a child correctly than it is to fix them once they’ve been taught incorrectly.
“So, we are serious about trying to get children into proper pre-school education programs so they can be prepared to learn to read when they start kindergarten. So one on the programs of One on One Education Services is an early literacy intervention program where children who are four years old and just about ready to enter kindergarten in the fall can go through a six-week program with Ms. Harris. The focus is centered on a one on one program where children can be taken from letter recognition to early reading skills within a six-week period.
“She works with them one on one and they are with her all day. It has been proven very successful. Students who have been through her reading program have been successful in passing the ISTEP above the average, and have been able to excel in school. And, that’s truly what we want.
“Also, through One on One Education Services, we have another program that unites parents called, ‘21st Century Parents for Quality Education.’ This is the membership wing of One on One Education Services where parents can join, pay a once-a-year membership fee and through the organization, they are able to find out the things their child needs to know at every level of their development.
“So, from pre-school all the way through high school, even into college, we have information available. We also want to serve as a united group of parents so that whenever we experience complications in the school system, or when we have concerns about what our children may or may not be learning, we have a collective voice so that we can speak out together and address these issues.
“A lot of times, I feel our problems are looked upon as being individual and without collective strength, nothing gets settled properly. We want parents to be able to unite themselves, to promote better education for our children.
“Another program we have is the Southeast Reading Academy. This is a program we hope to get started in a location on the southeast side of Fort Wayne. When we first started One on One Education Services, we were wanting to address some of the literacy needs in the southeast quadrant of Fort Wayne, especially East Allen County. In the area we’re hoping to establish ourselves, we hope to have a kindergarten for these children who go through the early literacy intervention program and we hope to have 15 children who will go through the program between the end of March and June, 2014.
“We have great hopes and do think parents can reclaim their power in getting their children educated correctly and through that we will have a stronger group of young people coming out of our community and stronger children will help make a stronger community.”
For more information, contact Jimella Harris at (260) 441-2543.