County Commissioners are on the forefront of supporting our communities every day! One story that reminds me of how much our investment in our communities matter is the story of ILEAD. Most Charter Schools that I’m familiar with target more advantaged students across various school districts, but ILEAD had a different vision. ILEAD is a Charter School in the City of Reading, which also happens to be our County Seat. Reading is one of the poorest cities in PA and one of the poorest in the country. ILEAD Charter School was developed to recruit and help students that have dropped out, are truant or are simply failing in the Reading School District.
Angel Figueroa is the man that started this school and approached me for support the summer before it opened. When I heard his vision, I knew he was up to something good. Instead of targeting the best and the brightest students he was going after those at the bottom, the forgotten ones. The reality was that he got my attention and I knew ILEAD was important to support. To this day, I’ve spoken in some of their classes. I’ve had the opportunity to address the ILEAD teachers and I continue to help them secure funding and tell their story to anyone who will listen.
Today ILEAD serves approximately 400 students and has a waiting list. It hasn’t been an easy road, but I am proud to stand with them when most elected officials sat on the sidelines to see what would happen. The students are 98% minority, most live in poverty and were falling through the cracks. For many ILEAD was their only chance and I’m so glad I could play a small part as a county leader. This is one of those true blessings that I get to be a part of because of my role as a Berks County Commissioner. I am not a teacher but I now play a role in seeing that some of our neediest students get a quality education.