JAMILAH HAJJAH THOMPKINS-BIGELOW
Program Director, MW South (15th & Christian)
Where I grew up: I was born in Washington, D.C. and lived in the D.C. area until my family came to Philly when I was 9. We lived in West Philly and then eventually Upper Darby, for the rest of my childhood.
College: B.S. from Temple University. I attended NYU for first two years of undergrad. I completed my Masters at University of Pennsylvania.
Favorite author: Toni Morrison.
One of my biggest heroes is: Ida B. Wells. I admire and envy her courage in speaking truth to power-— to wield writing as a weapon against oppression. She was a feminist and an anti-racism activist who used her skills as a journalist to expose Southern brutality at risk to her own life.
Last book I read: The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi.
Person who inspired me to appreciate writing: My father. He worked blue collar jobs that kept him busy but he’d make time to write poetry and he was always reading the newspaper. I developed a fascination with words because he was always so interested in them.
Most important thing to always remember when teaching kids: Children contain multitudes. They have abilities, skills, talents, and knowledge we might not ever know about unless we give them a chance to show them. Their potential is boundless so don’t underestimate what they can do.
Mighty thanks to the marketing firm, Garfield Group, for raising money for Chromebooks for MW… and for ALL their time and energy helping us prepare for our recent Posada holiday party.
A Mighty 2019 shout-out to our pioneering MW rec center leaders: TIERRA JONES, program director at Penrose Rec (11th & Susquehanna) and EVA SMITH, program director at Rivera Rec (5th & Allegheny).
Nobody quite rocks it like these two Mighty leaders!
In his tweet about Mighty Writers’ student Richard Jenkins, the former president linked to this story (cnb.cx/2PvCAVX).
We just received word that “Mommy’s Khimar” (Simon & Schuster), a children’s book authored by MW South Program Director JAMILAH THOMKINS-BIGELOW, has gone into its second printing. #SoMighty
5 Tips for MW Parents.
by Amy Banegas
1. DISCONNECT TO CONNECT
Practice full presence with your child by disconnecting from all electronics. Work emails, text messages from family and friends can all wait. Unplug!
2. BE MINDFUL OF REACTIONS
Tempting as it is to get aggravated when your child spills juice or doesn’t do well on a test, pause and take a breath instead. Remind yourself: accidents happen. Nobody’s perfect. Step outside the moment and into a space where you can breathe and cool down.
3. ASK QUESTIONS
Take a moment in your day to ask your child engaging and open ended questions: How was school today? Really? What made the school day feel like that? How are your friends? What do you and your friends like to do at recess? Show with your questions that you’re interested in their day, their life and their feelings. Allow them to express themselves openly.
4. PRACTICE ACTIVE LISTENING
Welcome your child’s stories by being fully present. Smile. Make eye contact. Don’t interrupt when they stumble over their words or the story goes on and on. You don’t have to say much to show you’re listening. Children love to talk and tell stories. Share in the excitement. Embrace the moment.
5. PAUSE TO MAKE SENSE
The bustle of everyday life tends to consume most of our energy and time. We get caught up in the moment and lose sight of what can wait and what’s important in the moment. Carve out time with your children, whether for a game night, an afternoon walk, an hour of shooting hoops or baking goodies (all good for the soul). Connect through arts and crafts, watch movies together and, of course, make time for writing. Making time for them should be your biggest life priority.
Amy Banegas, program director at MW North, incorporates mindfulness when teaching writing to students.