A voice for youth
Southeast advocate, leader Regina English joins District 2 boardBy Faith Miller
The Southeast Express
Regina English is no stranger to the spotlight.
A Michigan native who moved to Colorado Springs in the late ’90s, English is the reigning Mrs. El Paso County. She’s also the founder and director of Be You, a nonprofit that provides mentoring for young people — many of whom compete in YES M.A.A.M., a pageant system for African-American girls and “young ladies all shades of brown.”
In spring of 2019, English campaigned for Colorado Springs City Council and finished in seventh place out of 11 candidates vying for three at-large seats, drawing 19,800 votes. She plans to run again the next time an at-large seat comes up for grabs.
For now, English is one of two new members on the Harrison School District 2 board.
She said she chose to run for that position “to make an impact directly.”
“Culture-wise, it’s very important for kids that look like me to have someone represent and speak for them in their best interests, especially in terms of education and things that the community and parents would like to see change within our district,” said English, who’s currently pursuing a doctoral degree in organizational leadership.
She and Corey Williams were the only people who signed up to run for the school board’s two open seats, so the district decided to name them winners by acclamation. That doesn’t mean either one is taking the job any less seriously than they would have otherwise.
English’s five children all went to school in District 2, and she’s pushing for change, although she said she’s gained a new appreciation for what the school board does.
“I wasn’t as in-tune as maybe I could have been when my kids were in the district, but because, in my opinion, I didn’t feel like things were really changing and going in the way that us parents wanted it to go,” English said. “You kind of turn a deaf ear and say, ‘Whatever. I just want my kids to get through school, graduate and be done with it.’”
“It’s very important for kids to see someone that looks like them.”
— Regina English, Harrison School District 2 Board of Education member
English encourages parents to make their voices heard by coming to school board meetings, which start at 6 p.m. and are held the third Thursday of each month at the district headquarters, 1060 Harrison Road.
One of English’s top priorities is providing diversity training for district staff. Such programming can help teachers, staff and administration answer questions such as “How should this student be disciplined?” she said, or “What learning style should we use for this particular student?”
“I’m just hoping to see, really from the top down, a better understanding in terms of diversity, inclusion and equity,” English explained.
According to the district’s December 2019 ethnicity report, the diverse student body is 52.25 percent Hispanic, 23.47 percent white and 13.47 percent African-American.
Another big part of creating a more culturally sensitive environment for students, English said, will be increasing diversity among staff at the district’s schools.
“It’s very important for kids to see someone that looks like them,” she said. “One of the most diverse schools in terms of staff that I would say that we have is Monterey Elementary. It’s a great atmosphere in the building, and … we want to model that same thing throughout the district as a whole.”
Much of English’s energy is also focused on coaching young people through her nonprofit, Be You. Many of the girls English works with go on to compete in her pageant, YES M.A.A.M., which English organizes in El Paso County as well as Anniston, Alabama.
“Outside of school board, that’s my focus … just creating a space for young ladies to be able to thrive and be a part of the village that’s raising them,” English said.