Not only does her strong vocals command your attention but her voice demands action. Growing up she was active in chorus and drama in grade school that led her to being able to be on television and the stage and she has broadened her talents and transitioned her platform. Allow me to introduce you this phenomenal mom, educator, singer and advocate- Ms. Andrea Zachary Gayle. I got to sit down and pick the brain of this well-rounded, creative thinking, empathetic, energetic, and knowledge-seeking individual.
Erika Alexander was able to sit down with Ms. Gayle so that we are able to get a glimpse of the day in the life of an advocate.
How did you discover this was your passion?
“My unique experience of being a former special educator for 6 years, mom of a scholar with needs, and a scholar with learning differences I have a layered perspective that informs my approach to achieving the goals of the families that I support, because I empathize with the nuances of supporting a scholar with needs”
A former recipient of special education services herself she can not only sympathize but empathize with the journey both parents and scholars go through but she also loves working with mothers and babies. As a trained Community Doula, she provides services to moms who might otherwise not have access to perinatal, birth, and postnatal advocacy support. All these experiences have informed her mission to empower families with the tools they need to advocate for their scholars.
What would you say is your inspiration?
“I have always had a passion for children, always found myself speaking up for people whose voices were diminished and always desired to empower people in the manner in which I would want someone to try to reach and teach me. Those core tenants led me to teach Exceptional Education for several years,working with pre-k and kindergarten children with needs. My core vision of educational equity for all, became even more personal for me when I began advocating for my own children’s education.”
When asked about parenting she said this about her boys, “My son’s are unique thinkers and teach me something new everyday. As a unique thinker myself, I have the privilege of possessing and pursuing many diverse talents and skills.”
What sets you apart from other advocates?
“Speaking only for myself, I know that I don’t have all the answers, BUT I know how to find them! I strive to be firm in my approach, while helping families reach proverbial homeostasis. My goal is to help families reach a place of ease, by having all the systems and support in place for their scholar’s educational success.”
What advice do you have for others in your industry?
“Advocacy is EVERYONE’S job! Anyone who sees a problem can become a part of the solution. Find people who also have concerns that align with yours and who desire change. Collaborate to see that change come to fruition.”
Considering the institutional climate of the past and recent political action, what are your views on the current advocacy for minorities in schools and the representation of minorities in this field?
I can’t speak to recent statistics, however, I have disproportionately encountered minority and marginalized families whose scholars received no early intervention, refusal to diagnose, misdiagnosis, high instances of suspension and other unmitigated behavioral concerns. It is important that medical providers and early education services understand any implicit biases they might hold that impedes their ability to ensure that ALL scholars receive early interventions equitably, and access to life changing resources.
So where do you go from here?
“I realized that there are countless families who want more for their scholars, just as I do, but they don’t have the knowledge base or access to resources that enables them to advocate alone. I find purpose in helping families navigate the, often overwhelming, process of accessing all the resources, tools, supports and services that their scholar’s are entitled to.”
Her efforts will continue to facilitate learning for families, community stakeholders and leadership so that Educational Equity is within everyone’s scope of interest and action. As a facilitator at the 2023 PTA of GA Leadership Convention, she created and presented, A Quick Guide to Educational Advocacy: Advocacy 101, in which stakeholders and leaders from across the state participated in the training and walked away with a more in-depth understanding of their potential roles in advocacy. Also partnering with the Black, Woman Owned Advocacy Consulting Firm “Ariana Eaton Consulting” she supports families all over the United States that are fighting for educational equity across all social and economic lines.
“I am an advocate. I support people who need to amplify their own voices. I aim to empower my clients and enable them to rest in the knowledge that they are fully backed and supported while we work to reach our collective goals for their scholars.”
You can make contact using the following:
IG: Andrea_The Advocate