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HSE parents praise historic hire of district's first Black superintendent

Stokes makes history as first Black, second woman superintendent
Posted at 9:32 PM, Apr 23, 2021

HAMILTON COUNTY — Dr. Yvonne Stokes hasn't officially started her new job as the Superintendent of Hamilton Southeastern Schools, but she is already being met with a warm welcome.

"She has a great background! She's got a background in special education," said Carrie Black, a mother of two students in currently in the district and one alumnus. "She has a background with mental health and that's a huge thing right now in our community."

Black is looking forward to change after seeing several things she didn't like during the current administration, including a February 2021 directive from outgoing Superintendent Alan Boruff who urged teachers not to talk about Black Lives Matter in classroom, calling it a distraction.

Black said after hearing Stokes' introduction in front of the school board she's already convinced the new leader will bring a new tone.

"She's empathetic, that she's humble, and that she's resilient and she's here to get the job done," Black said.

For mothers India Elliott and Maraia Howard, Stokes' hire hits on an additional level as she makes history as the first Black person and second woman to lead the state's fourth largest school district. That's representation Howard's fourth-grade daughter has never seen.

"She has not had a Black teacher since she's been in the HSE school district, which is very important to me, which makes me quite excited about having a Black superintendent to the district," Howard said.

"This is awesome," Elliott said. "It extends beyond politics. It has nothing to do with being right or left-wing. The important thing here is to see someone in a powerful position, someone in a meaningful and impactful position that represents me, and ultimately my daughters."

All three mothers cited Stokes' extensive resume which includes positions at IPS, Munster, Blackford County, Marion, and Fort Wayne. They each say her gender and skin color is a bonus and anyone who disagrees should do the research themselves.

"They need to look at her resume. She is highly qualified. Highly experienced. She has her bachelor's degree, a master's degree and her doctoral degree," Howard said.

Stokes will officially take over as Superintendent on July First. Current Superintendent Dr. Allen Boruff announced in November 2020 his plans to retire at the end of the 2020-2021 school year.