Women of Intellectual Power

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ALL IN THE FAMILY- From left, Century Academy for Excellence charter school board president Aarika Pardino, Century Academy for Excellence vice principal Dr. Stephany Glover and principal Dr. Lisa Edwards, former United States Navy Eileen Langford-Knox, all sisters who grew up on 65th and Van Ness Ave. and worked to become symbols of the American Dream.

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.” – MAYA ANGELOU-

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has put a damper on everything. All we’ve hope for and lived to achieve has been brought to a screeching halt, but it has not slowed the steadfast determination of four African American women siblings of academia from continuing their efforts in education consequently resembling symbols of success and the American Dream.

Each of their journeys, albeit independent are collectively at the forefront in resurrecting Century Academy for Excellence charter school (CAFE) located at 2400 W. 85th in Inglewood.

Dr. Lisa Edwards, third eldest of the four siblings, is currently the principal at CAFE, which like many other schools throughout the nation has been forced to transform into online an institution as a direct result of the pandemic.

Every waking day, Edwards rises early to oversee lesson plans, maintain direct communication with teachers and students, while making sure the daily lunch program is efficiently run.

Then during the evening hours her attention focuses on audit deadlines and the future of the school.

Her indefatigable spirit for education brought her to this relatively little known Lennox charter because of her sincere desire to impact the lives of poor and underprivileged children.

A graduate of California State University Long Beach where she received her doctorate, Edwards is highly decorated in academia with a Master of Arts degree in Spanish, credentials in Administrative Services, Single-Subject Teaching-Spanish and Introductory English and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Loyola Marymount.

Those are just her introductory credentials, there is not enough space in this newspaper or on our digital platform to list all of them, but they were surely instrumental in Edwards foray into the education arena in 2009 when she arrived at Legacy Charter High School in Los Angeles where she held multiple post of co founder and lead school developer and co-principal along with her sister Dr. Stephany Glover.

Two years later she moved on to serve as supervisor of instruction at Bright Future/K12 Tutor, Inc. in Wilmington, California.

By 2015, Edwards was attracted to Inglewood High School to become activities director and A. P. Spanish teacher.

Inglewood recognized the bright future that Edwards has in education and elevated her to the post of assistant principal in charge of curriculum and instruction, a position she held from 2015-2017.

“I was able to observe her willingness to serve a school in a myriad of capacities, aside from her role as Teacher she served as the ASB Coordinator, Test Coordinator and performed multiple quasi-administrative duties. Within her role as Assistant Principal she has been able to utilize her conflict resolution skills, address complex employee matters, and guide a leadership team through the WASC accreditation process,” wrote Sherryl Carter, Inglewood director of human resources.

Staying true to her long sought mission to invest her skills and knowledge into children, Edwards was inspired by the challenges at CAFE in 2018.

The school she inherited had been severely mismanaged, crippling the student’s opportunity to learn and excel.

Handicapped by a myriad of encounters, Edwards sought support in the only direction in which she could find it. She reached out to her overly qualified family members because she knew they not only shared an equal vision, but also were individuals she could trust and afford.

Dr. Glover, who for years has worked side by side with Edwards and also shares the equal credentials in academia achievement was among the family members who decided to join the team at CAFE.

Glover previously worked at Fremont High School in Los Angeles as ELD Instructor from 2014-2017 and is currently the Assistant Principal at CAFE.

She was praised in abundance by her college professors because of an exceptional understanding in course content and broad knowledge in academic language development. “She’s a true catch!” boasted a professor.

Aarika Pardino, the youngest of the sisters, is studying for Doctor of Medical Science– Healthcare Leadership at the University of Lynchburg in Lynchburg, VA after earning a Master of Science in Healthcare Management and Leadership, at Rutgers University in Newark NJ. She resides in Palm Springs, but also serves as the CAFE board president.

The eldest sister Eileen Knox is equally brilliant, a graduate of California State Dominguez Hills with honors, earning an MA in public administration. A former member of the United States Navy, Knox has worked extensively with public officials and leads one of the nations most highly recognized educational achievement organizations.

Each of these distinguished women are the by products of two dotting parents who taught them early on the value of education.

Mother Melba A. Kirkendoll and father James E. Kirkendoll have been married for 51 years.

Both are a native’s of South Los Angeles, graduates of Los Angeles Southwest College and comfortably retired.

James is retired from the railroad at Union Pacific/Department of Transportation where he held the title as a Hostler/Engineer.

Melba retired from City of Los Angeles (Community Redevelopment Agency) as a Computer Analyst.

In addition excelling professionally, the women have also become model parents to their children.

Glover has an autistic son, Edwards has a blooming daughter and both of them are excellent college students.

Often we measure success in dollars and cents, instead of knowledge and sense.

This family represents the power of knowledge, the passion for enlightenment and the willingness to stay committed to it.

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