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Meet Trailblazer Patrice Meadows

Today we’d like to introduce you to Patrice Meadows.

Patrice, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Over a decade ago, I graduated from college and moved to Atlanta to start my journey in education. I joined a movement called Teach for America which places ambitious and somewhat naive (I definitely was) new teachers into underserved schools all across the country. In my first year, I was placed in a high school teaching chemistry to students just 3-4 years younger than I was. Before the school year began, my principal told me I wouldn’t make it to the end of the year. The students went weeks without class schedules, there were fights, skipping class and some teachers who gave up hope long ago. We lost students to drugs, prison, pregnancy, and death. Albeit a challenge, not only did I make it to the end of the year, but I am returning to the neighborhood where I started to open and lead a school called Atlanta SMART Academy.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
This has not been a smooth road. I lost my job, twice. This made me really question my calling and my ability to be successful in education. This also leads me to be creative. When you are desperate, tired or broke, whatever is inside of you has to come out. During my times of unemployment, I created streams of income that are still flowing today and I learned to market my own gifts.

If you are just getting started, spend time discovering who God has called you to be. This confidence will keep you focused and encouraged no matter what challenges you face.

Please tell us more about what you do, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I am the founder of Atlanta SMART Academy, proposed tuition-free art infused middle school in SW Atlanta. We plan to open in Fall of 2020 with 5th and 6th grade then grow a grade level each year. We will serve all students in Georgia and instill in them confidence and competence through creativity, compassion, and collaboration. Our students will leave with experience and exposure in the arts, earn high school credit and be prepared to enter college and pursue the careers of their choosing.

I am not doing this work alone. I have the best board of directors who serve alongside me and are deeply committed to serving students and families in Georgia through Atlanta SMART Academy. We are different because of our heart. We believe in our mission to use science, mat hand the arts to build innovative solutions. We also believe that our work will positively impact and change the life outlook for families in our community for generations to come.

I a proudest of my faith that has grown tremendously in this process. When God gave me the vision, he also supplies provision. Last year I quit my job and stepped into the unknown. Since then, God continues to amaze me and I look forward to what’s to come!

Finding a mentor and building a network are often cited in studies as a major factor impacting one’s success. Do you have any advice or lessons to share regarding finding a mentor or networking in general?
What has worked well for me is to join organizations and attend events that cater to my interests professionally and personally. It is through these avenues that I am connected with like-minded individuals and eventually mentors in my field. If you’re shy, you can start by following these individuals or organizations on social media. Like posts, repost and share their content. Eventually, work your way into the comments, then the DM or email and request a meeting in person. Know what you want and expect from the relationship and don’t be afraid to ask!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Abigail Pope Photography

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