“In many ways, I did not choose Stanton Elementary. Rather, Stanton Elementary chose me and when I came to the school, I never imaged that it would overtake my life and career in the manner that it did. From day one, Stanton gave me full access to their world and never tried to hide any of their blemishes. Teachers allowed me to be a fixture in their classes and students allowed me to move in and out of their social circles, never letting my presents deter them from their normal daily activities.
I first came to Stanton in April of 2012. When speaking with Stanton’s principal, Ms. Caroline John and talking briefly about my project and my ideas she said to me, “You have free reign.” I will always remember these words, as they are rare for a photojournalist to hear. I knew this was a place that I needed to stay in and continue working. For the next 12 months I would come to Stanton periodically and take pictures of students and teachers and the day-to-day activities of the school. The project, much to my surprise, became my graduate thesis.
I never thought that Stanton Elementary would be the main subject in my thesis, but the more I think about it, the more I believe that it was meant to be. The school has taught me so much about myself, not only as a photographer, but also as a person, and has helped me understand my craft in a way that no other subject would have.
Stanton Elementary agreed to show me its full self and in return I was able to photograph more honestly and without fear. Despite my desire to believe that as a photographer I help others with my work, in reality, my subjects are the ones who help me and in return I show my soul through my work as a way to convey the charity I have received.
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