The eighth-grader’s feet danced below the chair where she sat smiling in the principal’s office at Crain’s Creek Middle School. Amani Deona Crawford praised the middle school for guiding her journey from fail to sail!
“I didn’t have headaches in math. But I’m good with variables, letters, and words. I can get that,” Crawford said about math being a challenge.
Principal TJ Martin attained permission from her and revealed Amani failed math in sixth grade.
“I get a lot of encouragement,” Crawford said about her learning assistance. “Being able to get the right help — tutors and teacher assistants helped the most. I am a physical and visual learner.”
The eighth-grade level math is not what boomers grew up with in the 70s. Middle schoolers are taught algebra, some geometry and statistics.
A 2012 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) by Duke University researchers on North Carolina eighth-graders reveals the push for algebra originated from social justice groups. The policy was nicknamed the new civil right.
The NBER study said the policy was controversial because evidence shows slight benefits and more students struggling when they are not ready for the higher-level math.
With a current grade of 82 in eighth-grade math, Crawford is sailing right along.
Crawford said her teacher, Mrs. Chaffin, was one of her favorites, and her English teacher, Mrs. Skibitsky, compliments her daily on her favorite subject.
“I love reading. I read all the time. I’m reading “Haikyu!!” right now. It’s about volleyball and a slice-of-life kind of read,” Crawford said about her other interests.
She has played the violin since sixth grade and performs with the school orchestra.
“I dress up in black and white and have a blouse with pearls on it,” Crawford said about dressing up for shows.
Crawford wants to be a culinary artist and said she wants to have a backup plan as a tennis teacher or violinist for birthdays and weddings.
“Mom says I can be bossy,” she said about challenges, adding that she is on several medications for allergies and eczema. “Peanut oil is deadly, and I can’t eat cod fish, but I can eat a little shrimp.”
Crawford lives in Southern Pines with her mother, Demetria Hailey, and grandmother, Dolores Brown. Her father is Kimani Crawford.
Feature photo: Amani Deona Crawford smiles in the Crain’s Creek Middle School foyer on Oct. 19, 2023.
~Article and photo by Sandhills Sentinel journalist Stephanie M. Sellers; BS Mass Communications and Journalist, MFA Creative Writing.