Anthony Chiles serves as a consultant for US2. With over 15 years of experience as an educator and administrator in Georgia, Anthony is passionate about servant leadership and applying a head, heart, and hands approach to teaching others. He has his Bachelor of Music Education from Berry College, Masters and Specialist in Educational Leadership from Georgia College and State University and a STEAM Endorsement from Augusta University. In addition to his professional background, he is married to Sherrie and has six beautiful children. As a former military dependent, Anthony has developed a rich diverse cultural background that drives his willingness to support people from all walks of life. With an emphasis on supporting all stakeholders, Anthony’s life journey includes many stories of hardships and prosperity.
Being a part of a military family, I got to see the world from many different highs and lows. As a 5th grader, I had just moved to Charleston, South Carolina after completing four years in one of the most northern cities in the world: Fairbanks, Alaska. I can remember the trips going onto the military bases waiting for housing; but this deployment was a little different – we were able live off base. My father, being a very strategic planner, wanted to ensure that all of his children received the best education possible. Therefore, we settled in a middle class established neighborhood with great schools. The first day of school is always the most important to children as they want to “dress to impress” everyone. I can remember that even though we were ‘in’ the neighborhood, we were not really a part of it. Near the pristine green lawns, boats, new cars, and the latest upgrades to the neighborhood houses, lied a modern, yet simple, home, which is where we lived. With three other siblings, an enlisted father and mother working as an attendant for a dry-cleaner, we made just enough money to make ends meet. Our yard was maintained by my brother and I weekly, the driveway contained a 1989 Chevrolet conversion van and any upgrades we wanted to do with the house was merely a dream. Trying to fit in with the students at my school was a struggle as well. Not only were you categorized by how you talk; what you wore was just as important. I took upon a clean, neat appearance from watching my father daily put on his BDU’s before going to work. Most of the clothes I owned were not name brand, but I felt as long as I ironed my clothes, it would welcome me into social status of Tommy Hilfiger, Polo, and other expensive name brands students wore daily. I found out the second week of school that ironing your clothes doesn’t get you into the “club”. The students began picking on me for wearing the same outfit the previous week. As I approached the time for entering high school, JROTC was one of the classes I knew I wanted to be a part of. First, following in the footsteps of my father, I knew I wanted to be a soldier. Secondly, being able to wear a uniform once a week would hopefully shield me from the rants of wearing the same clothes all the time. Being in JROTC taught me a lot about leadership and the value of character. While some students baulked at wearing their uniform weekly, I wore it with pride. It was the one time a week when low, middle, and upper-class students could be equals and breakthrough the barrier of classism that separated us the other four days. My school journey is one aspect of the ways in which society minimalizes and castigates people based on belonging to particular identity groups. What is your story around class/socio-economic status?