Gifts To Our Community: Greatness Within
For some people, the place where they grow up imprints itself on them and always feels like home. Lavinia Hawkins, Ph.D., holds West Louisville close to her heart in everything she does. She was born and raised there by parents who took education seriously. That focus combined with a commitment to improving educational opportunities for West Louisville kids led to the creation of the book, Greatness Within, which Lavinia co-wrote with her husband, Daniel, the athletic director at West End School.
Lavinia and Daniel wrote the book in spring 2020 while quarantining. They thought about the important role that mentors had in both of their lives. “For both of us, mentoring and helping youth is so important. It’s how both of us were able to get to where we are now,” she says. “We wouldn’t be who we are without it.” Both of them recognized the severe impact the pandemic would have on children living in the West End because school, athletics, and community centers were shut down. They were looking to inspire children and help families.
Of course, no one imagined that we’d still be dealing with COVID-19 this many months later, which means the couple hasn’t been able to promote the book as they might otherwise have done. Lavinia would love to get the book into students’ hands at the middle and high school levels in urban schools. A personal goal for Lavinia, who recently completed her doctorate in curriculum and instruction, is to “improve education for youth from marginalized backgrounds.” She is concerned about not only the long-term impact of COVID-19 on these students but the impacts of social injustice that have come to a head this year.
Lavinia doesn’t have all the answers, but she knows that things have to improve in education. “There are too many kids, particularly from urban communities, who aren’t as successful as kids from other areas. I advocate for quality education, [but] I don’t know what that’s going to have to look like,” she says. “It needs to look like some success for each individual child.”