Photo courtesy of Tamir Harper
#CultureWorking with Tamir Harper
By Rashanda Freeman

What were doing your senior year of high school? Tamir Harper who is a senior at Science Leadership Academy brainstormed, developed, and raised funds for UrbEd. UrbEd is an initiative to advocate for students and families who are being deprived of a quality and efficient, urban education. 

1. Why did you get into education advocacy?

I have attended public school all my life. I have experienced the good and bad of the education system. In elementary school I attended Morton Elementary School, which proved itself to be a standard, elementary school with low-income families spanning across the neighborhood. Once I graduated from Morton, I attended one of the worst public schools in the School District of Philadelphia. And now, counterintuitively, I attend one of the top schools in the School District of Philadelphia.

Once I went through the good, bad, and ugly of the system, I started advocating for more equitable schools, teacher diversity, and more along that spectrum. Students that come from my neighborhood, as well as neighborhoods similar to my own, deserve a quality and efficient education, just like the students that live in Center City and attend private schools.

2. What’s the future of public education?

The future of public education is bright. I truly believe that the light is shining on the end of the dark tunnel that we are in right now. Once the political climate calms down and we figure out tangible solutions to some of the large and small problems in public education, every child, regardless of /zip code, will receive a quality and efficient urban education.

Within the City of Philadelphia, in order for our public education system to grow and thrive, we need to not only get rid of the School Reform Commission, but bring a school board together that will truly represent the makeup of race and worthy opinions. We also have to address the need of qualified and trained diverse teachers. Once we address those two issues, we will have a district that is growing and serving every Philadelphia child.

Books that you would recommend to read concerning education?

3. How do you practice self-care?

Sometimes I struggle practicing self-care, as I am still learning to incorporate it into my normal routine.

#1 is Sleep! Sleeping makes me happy. As a full time student and full time Executive Director, I sometimes don’t get enough sleep. So whenever I get to take a power nap or just relax in my bed, I get ridiculously excited, with a rejuvenation of my persona to follow suit.

#2 Go for a Run!  Running really allows me to zone out and clear my mind. Everytime I come back from running, I feel like I slept for 8 hours, and my stress disappears.

#3 Hang Out With Friends! My friends remind me that I am still a high school student and need to enjoy the few luxuries of being in high school.