STUDENTS | December 1, 2021
When asked to recite her school pledge, fifth-grader Megan does so confidently and without any hesitation. As a student at Jane A. Neil School, I will promise to soar today. I will strive for success. I will own my actions. I will act respectfully. Today is a great day to soar at Neil.
Not only is she able to recite the pledge perfectly, she embodies it. She’s become one of Neil’s top students academically and is a role model for and leader among her peers. But, even though she’s been a Neil student since pre-k, she admits that developing confidence in her abilities has taken time.
“When I was little, I had a fear of talking to people,” said Megan. “I know now that everyone at school is really nice and will make learning here fun.”
While she’s developed close relationships with many adults at Neil, one of her strongest bonds is with Mrs. Latoya Dameron, her counselor. Mrs. Dameron notes that Megan always keeps her on her toes—in a good way—because she is always looking for new ways to make a difference at school.
“Megan is exceptional. Not only does she excel in her academics, but she is an amazing friend to all,” said Mrs. Dameron. “She sets the bar high for others to look up to her. It’s a privilege just being her counselor, and she makes it so easy.”
Inside the classroom, Megan has gravitated toward reading as one of her favorite subjects. She’s also discovered an interest in perfecting her cursive skills. And her fifth-grade teacher, Ms. Ja’Toya Sims, shares that one of her favorite memories of Megan was when she sang in front of the school for career day, since Megan wants to be a singer and actress when she grows up.
“She is just a wonderful student who is always very helpful with her classmates,” said Ms. Sims. “It’s a joy having her in class because she’s always upbeat, always loving, and a really great person and friend.”
Principal Ms. Tawane Knox and Assistant Principal Mrs. Angela Harris have known Megan for years and have become accustomed to seeing her name when they prepare certificates for students on the academic honor roll and those that achieved perfect attendance.
“I always tell people that school is like a party. The party can’t be fun unless you’re at the party and making it fun,” said Principal Knox. “School can be amazing if you’re there making it amazing, and Neil is amazing because of students like Megan.”
As the adults at Neil have seen time and time again, Megan is an incredibly positive influence on the students around her. This is most noticeable between her and her best friend Dache, who she met in first grade. She explains that they have been able to keep their friendship going because they don’t spill each other’s secrets and always have hugs ready when the other person is having a bad day.
Megan wants many of the same qualities that have been central to the relationships she has built at Neil to inform a future career as a singer and actress. She currently looks up to stars like Ariana Grande and Tia and Tamera Mowry because she believes their songs and movies are inspirational for aspiring performers like her.
Eventually, Megan would like to inspire students like her through her career, encouraging them to believe in themselves and make their own decisions free of peer pressure.
But, at least for the next few years, working toward that dream will take place at Neil Elementary, and, with the support of her teachers, counselor, and school leaders, it shouldn’t be too difficult for Megan to stay motivated and continue to excel.
“I think I’ve been able to be a good student at Neil because of the teachers making school so fun. And I also have the best counselor and principal ever,” said Megan. “In one word, Neil is amazing. I’ve been here for so many years, and I keep thinking to myself: ‘What an amazing school.’”