Family Academy Interview with Vince Frazier

Parents are the first and primary teachers of their children. NAZ Family Academy is one important step in NAZ’s ecosystem of support that provides parents with the knowledge and resources to help their young scholars succeed. These classes are an important part of our layered and aligned collaborative strategy and focus on providing parents with the skills and tools they need to strengthen the stability of their family and support the academic success of their children. Courses include:

-Family Academy Foundations, for parents of children of all ages.
-College Bound Babies, for parents of 0-3 year-olds.
-Ready to Succeed, for parents of 4-5 year-olds.
-College Bound Scholars for parents of elementary age scholars.

Since the new session of classes begins January 10, we talked with Vince Frazier, Family Academy Program Manager, to learn more about Family Academy, its classes and how beneficial it is for the Northside community.

What is your favorite part of your job at NAZ?

My favorite part is partnering with our Northside families. I’ve had many jobs where work feels mundane and the same, but when you’re working with families who have a desire to change, it feels brand new. Not all change for humans is the same. Everyone has different life stories and perspectives, so the joy I get is that I can share in that commonality. I don’t feel like I’m above anyone because I’m a parent and while I may not relate to every struggle or success, I’m coming at it on the same level. It’s also incredibly rewarding to work with folks at NAZ who, like me, are truly invested in the community.

How would you describe Family Academy?

Family Academy is a community space and refuge for families. It’s not a NAZ-owned space, families are the creators of it, they cultivate it, and NAZ is allowed to be in it. A lot of systems are designed for people to be dependent on, but Family Academy is not that. It’s a community of learning where parents tap into their own power. It’s less about “teaching” and more about “reminding” – reminding families that they know what they’re doing, that they’re supported, they’re heard, and that we can offer tools and resources for some new ideas to help them along their journey.

Why is it beneficial for people with scholars to take classes?

It’s rare to find a community of parents who participate in something so positive. Family Academy helps parents discover their power; they get to enhance the knowledge they already have and see their scholars in a different light. What one parent might see as a deficiency in their scholar, once they take a class, they can see it as “normal”, they see it as a strength. They think, “My scholar isn’t bad or awful, they’re just developing the way they should be. They’re discovering life.” It’s beneficial because parents and caretakers are provided a different view point, I can be a part to enhance that and cultivate it. The shame starts to dissipate around “Am I doing this right, how do I do this?” and folks are able to celebrate things as they’re more aware. A lot of that is curriculum and other parent voices, too, to reinforce what they’re learning.

Vince with his daughter, Sorayah

What is a parenting win you’ve had from what you learned via Family Academy? 

I have increased in my power as a parent, as a result of being around our NAZ families. I have learned something every single session. I’m humbled – I think I’m teaching and then a parent says something and I think ‘I’m gonna apply that to my parenting.’ Our Family Academy facilitators also love it because they glean new knowledge and wisdom from our parents – it’s reciprocal. We’re not the sole providers of answers. It really does go back and forth. It’s rewarding for that reason. All of the family academy facilitators are parents, so they can relate and empathize.

What have you learned from your role with Family Academy?

Here’s the thing – our parents, they’ve been through some hard stuff, but they have hope. It’s really incredible to be a part of a community where you’ve been beaten down so much but not destroyed. There’s something in the middle – you’re beaten, you’re down, but you’re not broken – and that piece in the middle is hope. When families look at their scholars, they’re reminded their babies are strong, they’re talented, they’ve loved. And it’s really inspiring to see it. When they work with NAZ, they truly believe they have a partner, a relationship, within the community, and they know we’re not giving up on them. We provide them with tools of resourcefulness and to feel empowered, and in turn they provide us with hope.

For those interested in learning more about Family Academy, click here.