Mayor LaToya Cantrell pictured with Dr. Askew at her
Élan school visit.
Our Founder and Head of School, Melanie Askew, is a dedicated educator who has spent the last ten years working and leading in education. Beginning as a research assistant in the Department of Special Education at Vanderbilt's Peabody College, Dr. Askew confronted the large disparities across special education and gifted education for students of color. With the drive to close those gaps for all children, she has worked as a founding teacher, instructional coach, curriculum content specialist, adjunct professor, and educational consultant. Dr. Askew has a Bachelor of Science in Human and Organizational Development, a Master of Education in Organizational Leadership, and a doctorate in Leadership and Learning in Organizations all from Vanderbilt University's Peabody College.
"I was raised by a hard-working single mother, who stressed the importance of education. Unfortunately, and over time, the schools in our community declined in performance. With the death of my father, I received Social Security checks which my mother used to pay my tuition to a private college preparatory high school. The timing of my father’s passing changed the course of my life. However, no parent should have to die for their child to attain an excellent education. The idea that luck, or in my case, tragedy, should determine the future of a child is not a part of the American Dream. All students deserve the right to a free quality education regardless of their race, zip code, and socioeconomic status. It’s about access to choice and high-quality options. Families and students deserve the right to choose their path, fulfill their potential, and embody their dreams - a poor education should not determine anyone’s life or anyone’s future."