Dear friends and neighbors–
My name is Royce Mann, I’m nineteen years old, a native Atlantan, a recent graduate of APS, and a candidate to be your District 7 At-Large representative on the Atlanta Board of Education. One of the people I admire most, my grandmother, was a public school educator who worked for APS and later helped launch the U.S. Department of Education as a member of the Jimmy Carter administration, and my dad is an Arts Educator who travels the state and country integrating creativity into all levels of the curriculum. Learning from my grandmother and witnessing my father taught me at a young age the vital importance of empowering students through quality public education.
Also an artist and educator, my mom instilled in my older brother and me a keen sense of our responsibilities as active community members. I have worked to fulfill these responsibilities through my advocacy and activism, organizing local efforts around issues including gun violence, racial justice, LGBTQ+ rights, and educational equity. Most recently, I co-founded Students for Ossoff & Warnock and helped mobilize thousands of young Georgians to elect our two wonderful new Senators. Prior, I worked as Legislative Director for March for Our Lives Georgia, lobbying state legislators to pass policies to reduce violence across the state.
My commitment to speak up even when inconvenient has given me a broad platform: in 2014, a poem I wrote and performed about white male privilege went viral, and I was invited to present at conferences and on numerous television programs, including at the Obama Foundation Summit and the 2017 Martin Luther King Day Commemorative Service at Ebenezer Baptist Church. These experiences have prepared me to be an effective voice for students, and my unconventional educational background has given me an innovative and ambitious perspective that I believe will be an asset to the board.
Through 7th grade, my parents taught my brother and me using the unschooling method, a form of homeschooling that focuses on encouraging students to pursue their interests in the real world rather than follow a set curriculum. In 8th grade, I started at the Paideia School, and in 2018, I transferred to Grady for my last two years of high school. In APS, I immediately found a compassionate and supportive family, and before long, I felt a deep desire and responsibility to contribute to the community that had so willingly and warmly welcomed me.
I joined the student government, started a chapter of Amnesty International, and was eventually appointed by my principal to be the student member of the GO-Team. I also led the effort to rename Grady High School by creating a student petition, hosting community dialogues, and lobbying the board of education along with the support of many of my classmates. I also interned for the board of education, conducting research on successful practices that have helped achieve equity in other districts, and was later appointed as a member of the district’s LGBTQ+ task force. Through these efforts, I became fully committed to uplifting students throughout our great city, and though I had long planned to leave Georgia for college, when I started my senior year in the fall of 2019, I realized my love for Atlanta was so strong that I needed to stay.
Now, as a first-year Woodruff-MLK Jr. scholar and political science major at Emory University, I am running for the Atlanta Board of Education to give back to the city that has given so much to me. I look forward to earning your support and working on behalf of all students, families, and educators across APS!
Candidate for Atlanta Board of Education