A native of Tampa, Paulette Upshaw-Wells, has a passion to inspire, uplift and encourage youth and young adults of all ages. Her involvement in the Tampa Bay and surrounding areas has lead to the success and well being of many, as she continues to support and engage youth from Elementary to High School including College Students. Her purpose and passion is heartfelt and is demonstrated daily by her greatest motivation, her parents who instill family-oriented values. Being the 5th daughter of 6 girls, married to her husband, Tyrone for over 21 years, her love for people is transparent.
Mrs. Paulette, extends her self in the community as a Choir Director for Grace Mary and for the Progressive M & E Baptist Convention of Florida serving well over 250 youth. Providing an avenue for youth to express their gifts and talents, she is also a choreographer for Dance/Mime team at her local church. She is the C.O.O. of Tampa Bay Gospel News and Awards, serves on the Community NFL Advisory Board for the Glazier Foundation, in partnership of the Jackson Heights Youth Education Town Center, also actively assist with the arranging of the Anthem participants for Entertainment for the Buccaneers (NFL), A Youth Counselor for (O.T.A.Y) Outreach to America’s Youth, under the leadership of RV & Frances Brown.
Her willingness to give all she can, while she can is limitless. Seeing Youth and Children develop into their greatest potential brings an overwhelming joy. In humbleness, her favorite passage of scripture is Matthew 25:40.
Growing up, my mom had a passion for working in schools that were Title 1. This meant that the schools were from areas that were under served. My mom found unique ways to get involved with the communities and families. About 12 years ago, I took a long term substitute position at Witter Elementary. Witter is also a Title 1 school. My mom was the AP at the time and I absolutely fell in love with the kids and the area. I had one student that I tried to follow throughout the years. His story changed, we lost contact and I was not able to reconnect until he was 16. At that point he was in jail, listed as an adult offender. He had been shot and likely much more. We reconnected and my hope has always been for success in his life. When I found out the path his life took, I felt a strong calling to get involved in a bigger way. I joined Tampa Urban YoungLife as a volunteer and then as a staff leader working with middle schoolers in the University Area (Witter's area). I have been a leader in the area for 6 years now. In addition, I was the youth director at my church. During my time leading I have seen incredible community leaders step up in a huge way for our kids. I have also seen major areas where we are lacking. I cannot tell you how many times I worked with pregnant teenagers with little to no support, families who were homeless or needing food but who also did not have transportation to get them to churches or other food drives. I have had youth struggle with trauma from things they see in their homes and neighborhoods with no access to counseling. I have seen teachers in inner city schools beg for resources for their students. I have watched youth that have a desire to SERVE others. I have watched students who are incredibly intelligent bounce from school to school while their education suffers and they get lost in one system only to be passed off to another one. Paulette and I have been talking about Mind Over Matter for years because our passion is to connect our babies of the forgotten communities with the resources they need to succeed. The old adage "It Takes A Village"" is needed to be today's motto. We are not here for hand outs, we are here to be a part of a team, a part of a family and a part of a community that works together to watch our youth succeed.
Born in Haiti and migrated to the United States at a young age, Gaetane grew up understanding the importance of having a strong foundation in her culture. Her parents raised her to not take for granted the importance of having an education as it’s a stepping stone to a brighter future. Unfortunately, her environment in Miami proved to be difficult yet promising.
Gaetane attended the University of South Florida where she earned a Bachelors degree in Africana Studies with a concentration in Public Health and Women of Color. She became the President of the Africana Studies Club which focused on enriching the education of the African diaspora.
Once she became a mother, she relocated back to Miami and worked as a Case Manager for the Health Start program in the very same neighborhood she grew up in. Her focus was to educate participants on Parenting, Breastfeeding, and Nutrition to decrease maternal and infant mortality rates. She lived in Miami until 2012 when she relocated back to Tampa.
She soon furthered her education to become a Certified Lactation Counselor, Childbirth Educator, and Postpartum Doula. She continues to want to make a difference in the lives of minorities because she also had the guidance of many who believed in her. Each one, teach one.
Hi, my name is La'Quana. I am a 19 year old mom of a toddler boy. I am extremely passionate about pretty much everything I do. At the same time, I am dedicated to my dreams and obtaining the utilities that I feel will better help me succeed in life.
I am described by others as sweet and friendly. I have an old soul which to others comes across as a wise character trait. I am a visionary, which means I always see the big picture even when the frame is small. My favorite personality traits consist of me being insightful and adaptable. I am a person who likes to put my own creative twist into things because an artist at heart sees the beauty in everything and everyone.
The teen pregnancy/parent program is highly important to me because it gives me the opportunity to do for others things I wish someone had done for me in my first years of motherhood. Becoming a parent in your teen years is a huge and very hard step. It is very new, very stressful and can take a huge mental toll on us. In society, teen parents are automatically set to fail. I feel that if I was informed about some of the resources that I know now back then, it would have helped a lot. Many young parents have no idea about the many resources that can help them grow physically, financially etc. because no one tells them. To be a part of something hat can increase the success of teen parents in our community, that helps us became a part of a better statistic and helps others to see us for our true self and talent, not our mistakes is something I am proud to be a part of. No parent should feel like they can't succeed and it is my job to show them, to assure them, and to give them the support that proves they can.
Tonya Brinkley Wright, mother of five, wife, sister, daughter and Hillsborough County Public School Educator for 20 years. Born and raised in Miami, Florida, decided to venture away from down south to the Tampa Bay area in 1996. Graduate of University of South Florida, Bachelor degree in Special Education with a specialization in Specific Learning Disabilities and Emotional Disorders and a Masters degree in Elementary Education from Nova Southeastern University. Creator of The Phoenix Financial Literacy Services, in June 2020 after teaching less than 6 months as an AVID Teacher at the largest Middle School in Hillsborough County serving over 1900 students. It was there where the phrase "preparing students for life" took on a personal new meaning. Statistics show two-thirds of American adults cannot pass a basic financial literacy test. Students are graduating without the proper knowledge and skills to manage their personal finances. You ask why? Mainly because it is not being taught in the school setting and we are left to figure it out as we go or learn from others who had not been adequately taught. According to Forbes, overall, "people want to make good financial decisions that set them up for success both today and in the future, but most never had the opportunity to learn how to do it." Just by that alone, The Phoenix Financial Literacy Services was born to pour financial literacy into our community starting with our youth, starting at the age of 9. It is never too early to begin learning how to make, save, and invest money. It is time that we, as a community, understand how a checking account works, what using a credit card really means, and how to avoid debt. Financial literacy impacts the daily issues an average family makes when trying to budget, buy a home, fund education and ensure adequate finances for retirement. It is time we rise to family financial empowerment. Let's get educated! Knowledge is Power!
Susan, along with her two daughters moved back to her home town of Temple Terrance in 1997. Susan began teaching at Sulphur Springs Elementary school as a first grade teacher. She went on to be the reading coach at Sulphur Springs, then Broward and Oak Grove Elementary before moving on to her position as an administrator. Susan spent her last 15 years as both the assistant principal and then principal of Belle Witter Elementary where she worked with both Paulette and Tonya for many years. Susan retired in June of 2020 as a full time educator.
Susan enjoys spending time with her amazing daughters and grand sons as well as traveling with her husband Mark. Her favorite place to visit is The Florida Keys.
Susan has a passion for education and has always worked in Title 1 schools and schools that were considered to be in areas of special need. She has worked her entire career supporting teachers and children teaching them that every child deserves and will get an equal opportunity for education. Susan is passionate about our educational and teacher support program because she knows how amazing our teachers are and that when they are given the supportive tools and resources they need there is nothing they would not do to see a child succeed.
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